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Rob Parker Suspended Over RGIII Remarks

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

ESPN Pundit Questioned Quarterback's Blackness

School Shooting Moves Ethics Questions Up Front

In '80s, Obama Says, He'd Be Called Moderate Republican

Given African Past, Rice "Absolutely" Made Right Call

2nd Fired Shreveport Reporter "Trying to "Lie Low"

China Daily Establishes African Edition

Magazine Publishes Mug Shots Even for Petty Crimes

Right-to-Work Laws Originated With Segregationists

Short Takes

ESPN Pundit Questioned Quarterback's Blackness

ESPN commentator Rob Parker was suspended Friday after igniting a firestorm when he questioned whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a "real" black man.

Parker said Thursday on ESPN's "First Take," "Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?" Both men are African American.

"He's not real. OK, he's black, he kind of does the thing, but he's not really down with the cause," Parker said. "He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he's off to something else.

"We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about how he's a Republican ... Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin but don't call me black.' "

ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said in a statement, "Following yesterday's comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review."

Griffin's father, Robert Griffin II, told USA Today that "he was baffled by the comments but wouldn't fire back Thursday night, even though Parker's remarks ignited the blogosphere and sparked angry social media responses," Jim Corbett reported for USA Today.

"A few minutes later after his father spoke, Griffin III tweeted to supporters: 'I'm thankful for a lot of things in life and one of those things is your support. Thank you.' "

Parker's comments have landed him in hot water before. In January 2009, Parker resigned as a sports columnist for the Detroit News after the criticism that followed asking losing Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli at a postgame news conference whether he wished his daughter had married "a better defensive coordinator."

Parker said then he "asked the people for a buyout and they granted me one" after the climate at the paper had deteriorated for him.

Less than two months before that, Parker apologized for implicating Michigan State University backup quarterback Kirk Cousins in an off-campus assault in a comment on WDIV-TV's "Clubhouse Confidential." Cousins now backs up Griffin for the

In 1991, Parker was brought up on charges by the Newspaper Guild for crossing picket lines during a bitter strike at the New York Daily News. The charges were later dropped, and Parker moved on to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Writing of Griffin in October in a 3,600-word profile in the Washington Post, Dave Sheinin said, ". . . He was raised in a military household, by two now-retired Army sergeants who taught him to see the world without much regard to race, and those lessons continue to inform his worldview as a young adult

" 'My parents raised me to not ever look at race or color,' Griffin said recently, 'so it doesn't have a big part in my self-identity. [But] I think it has played a big part in how other people view me, just going back to when I was a kid, to even now, doing the things that I've been able to do. As an African American, I think other people view that in a different way than I do.'. . . "

In the Washington Post, Dan Steinberg recounted Thursday's "First Take" exchange:

". . . Panelist Rob Parker was asked, 'What does this say about RGIII?"

" 'This is an interesting topic,' Parker said. 'For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don't know who's asking the questions, but we've heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.

" 'I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,' Parker continued. 'Nobody's out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You're just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.

In April, ESPN the Magazine put Robert Griffin III, known as RGIII, on the cover

" 'But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,' Parker went on. 'And I've talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I've known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?'

"What does that mean, Parker was asked.

" 'Well, [that] he's black, he kind of does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause, he's not one of us,' Parker explained. 'He's kind of black, but he's not really the guy you'd really want to hang out with, because he's off to do something else.'

"Why is that your question, Parker was asked.

" 'Well, because I want to find out about him,' Parker said. 'I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he's a Republican, which, there's no information [about that] at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I've got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.'

"Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII's braids.

" 'Now that's different,' Parker said. 'To me, that's very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you're a brother. You're a brother if you've got braids on.'

"Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.

" 'Well first of all let me say this: I'm uncomfortable with where we just went,' Smith said. 'RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It's irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that's his business, that’s his life. I don't judge someone's blackness based on those kind of things. I just don't do that. I'm not that kind of guy.

" 'What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,' Smith went on. 'I think it's something that he may feel, but it's also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I'm finding relatively irritating, because I don't believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things. . . . ' "

"Late Thursday, Parker remained confident there would be no disciplinary action taken," Todd Johnson reported for the Grio. "When a Twitter user sarcastically wished Parker 'good luck' in his 'next line of work,' Parker shot back:

"Typical silly response. Watch me on First Take tomorrow and Sat.#pleze"

A candlelight vigil beginning outside the White House honors Newtown, Conn., sho

School Shooting Moves Ethics Questions Up Front

"'There's a lot of trying to shield the children from the eyes of the media,' ABC News reported in the aftermath of the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting, describing the scene," Joanne Ostrow reported Friday for the Denver Post.

"There was a lot of shoving of microphones in the faces of the children, too.

"Shielding and shoving, the media plays its part in what has now become a too-well-rehearsed ritual.

"Television did its usual best and worst Friday morning to relay information of the latest national horror. For hours, a confusing array of raw information, much of it unconfirmed, was pushed through social media and TV outlets. More questions than answers kept the spectacle a blur. Were there multiple shooters? How many fatalities? How many of them children? Did the killer or killers have a connection to the school?

"On CNN, Soledad O'Brien said, 'we want to remind viewers this is raw reporting from various networks, we cannot independently confirm.'

"In special reports pre-empting regular programming, news anchors used the media's familiar backhanded trick of lamenting media intrusiveness while furthering media intrusiveness in the pursuit of information.

"Beyond the sickening events, beyond the much needed discussion of gun control, the Connecticut tragedy moved questions of journalistic ethics to the fore.

"Questions like: Does it serve any journalistic purpose to put children on live television in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting? Is it ethically [permissible] to put shocked parents on live TV, to give the nation a taste of the horror? . . . "

In '80s, Obama Says, He'd Be Called Moderate Republican

Tavis Smiley's radio partner Cornel West, the Princeton University professor, made headlines last month when West called President Obama a "Rockefeller Republican in blackface."

Alina Mayo Azze On Thursday, the president agreed with the first part of that phrase. In an interview with Alina Mayo Azze of Univision's Noticias Univision 23, Obama said, ". . . The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican. I mean, what I believe in is a tax system that is fair."

Azze asked Obama, " . . . why reach out to the local media? I'm from a local TV station in Miami, why reach out to us?"

Obama answered, "One thing that I found is so important during the course of the campaign is that the conversation here in Washington isn't the same as the conversation out in the country. The people are worried about paying their bills, about paying their mortgage, about the quality of their schools, about getting their kids to college, big potholes in roads, flooding, making sure that we have safe streets. And so when I — whenever I talk to local stations where what I find is the ability to reach more Americans, and in resolving issues like the fiscal cliff here, it's so important that members of Congress hear from people back home.

"So I'm hoping that if one thing comes out of this — this interview, I'm hoping that people will watch me and say, 'You know what? I want to reach out to my member of Congress and say, "Compromise. Let's go ahead and get this thing solved. Let's think about the country first and not politics first." ' "

Susan Rice with Meles Zenawi, the autocratic Ethiopian prime minister who died i

Given African Past, Rice "Absolutely" Made Right Call

Howard W. French, New York Times bureau chief for West and central Africa in the 1990s and author of "A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa," wrote Dec. 3 about Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations then viewed as President Obama's choice to become the next secretary of state.

". . . In any discussion of Susan Rice's career, there is no escaping Africa," French, who now teaches at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, wrote in the Atlantic. "It is the place where she cut her teeth and built her essential record as a diplomat and national security official. Although there has been nary a hint of this in the fuss about Benghazi, I would go further still and say that one would be hard pressed to find anyone in American government who has played a larger and more sustained role in shaping Washington's diplomacy toward that continent over the last two decades."

U.S policy toward Africa ". . . remains mired in an approach whose foundation dates to the Cold War, when we cherry-picked strongmen among Africa's leaders, autocrats we could 'work with,' according to the old diplomatic cliché.

"These were men like Zaire's late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, whose anti-democratic politics, systematic human rights violations, and high tolerance for corruption we were willing to overlook so long as they stayed on our side in the great strategic struggles of the day. We counted on them to hold down the fort in their respective countries and regions, and in so doing, as the thinking went, to protect U.S. interests."

Does that mean that Rice's announcement Thursday to withdraw her name from consideration for secretary of state was a good thing?

"Absolutely," French told Journal-isms by email. "Her legacy in Africa has been a very negative one."

2nd Fired Shreveport Reporter "Trying to "Lie Low"

A second reporter at KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La., was fired for defending himself online, but unlike his former colleague Rhonda Lee, the meteorologist with the short Afro who has been the center of a media whirlwind, Chris Redford would rather not talk about it.

Chris Redford

"I'm really just trying to lie low and keep things private right now," Redford, a crime reporter at the station, messaged Journal-isms on Friday.

However, Lylah M. Alphonse, senior editor of Yahoo! Shine, reported Friday, "one source with ties to the station tells Yahoo! Shine that Redford was fired without warning for responding to a personal attack on his own Facebook page.

" 'He is an openly homosexual man that denounced gay slurs left on same KTBS site,' the source, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, wrote in an email to Yahoo! Shine. 'The only difference is he did not write on the KTBS Facebook page, he responded on his own PERSONAL FB page and was given NO prior warning.'

"Redford .  .  . was defending a straight coworker who was being harassed online, the source wrote. KTBS [general] manager George Sirven told Yahoo! Shine in an email that he had no comment.

"In November, Shreveport, Louisiana police arrested a local man accused of stalking Redford. 'KTBS gave emotional and financial support to white females that faced problems with stalking, but directed Chris Redford to ignore the public humiliation this man put him through,' the source told Yahoo! Shine."

Asked about an earlier report that he was dismissed "for using Facebook to respond to a reported gay stalker," Redford messaged Journal-isms, "I did not 'respond to a gay stalker.' "

Meanwhile, Jennifer Vanasco, writing Friday in Columbia Journalism Review, wrote that Lee should not have been fired.

". . . News organizations are not ordinary businesses. They have a duty to the public to inform and educate. What Rhonda Lee did in responding to those Facebook posts was correct misinformation on a Web page administered by the station as well as educate viewers about African American culture. Lee was using social media as a journalist; she did exactly what she should have," Vanasco wrote.

"But she shouldn't have needed to do anything, because the station should have responded first, either by taking the comments down (most organizations have a policy of deleting racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise inappropriate comments) or by replying in a way that supported its African American staff members and viewers."

More than 13,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate Lee.

China Daily Establishes African Edition

"China Daily, China's biggest English-language newspaper, has launched an African edition — the latest of several Chinese media initiatives in Africa," the BBC reported last week.

"The state-run weekly, which also comes in digital form, aims to explain 'the relationship between China and the African continent,' its editor says.

"China's CCTV and Xinhua news agency already have operations in the region.

" . . . 'The relationship between China and the African continent is one of the most significant relationships in the world today,' said the paper's publisher and editor-in-chief, Zhu Ling.

". . . China has also implemented other innovative media projects, like giant news screens in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, and thousands of scholarships for African journalists, reports BBC Africa analyst Mary Harper."

Last month, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. military's Africa command had established two newswebsites in Africa as part of a propaganda effort aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa's most dangerous regions — Somalia and the Maghreb. The sites' American origins are not immediately evident to viewers.

Magazine Publishes Mug Shots Even for Petty Crimes

". . . Last week, I stopped at a gas station on the South Side and a quirky magazine caught my eye," Mary Mitchell wrote Monday in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Nab Shot is a compilation of mug shots and bills itself as 'Chicago's Premier Crime Stopping Publication.'

Nab Shot is 'a cash cow.' "For $1, you can look at people arrested in a two-week period for offenses ranging from retail theft and prostitution to DUI and first-degree murder.

"The publisher, identified only as Jeff, said, 'What I am doing is exposing criminals and people that have been arrested. Bottom line, I am just putting everybody's business out there.'

"That idea is actually a throwback to the 'Evening Whirl,' a weekly publication Ben Thomas started in St. Louis in 1938. Thomas developed a strong following by dishing up sordid details of crime, scandal and gossip going on in the black community. . . . "



Right-to-Work Laws Originated With Segregationists

"This week, Republican lawmakers in Michigan — birthplace of the United Auto Workers and, more broadly, the U.S. labor movement — shocked the nation by becoming the 24th state to pass 'right-to-work' legislation, which allows non-union employees to benefit from union contracts," Chris Kromm wrote Thursday for the Institute for Southern Studies.

"While Michigan's momentous decision has received widespread media attention, little has been said about the origins of 'right-to-work' laws, which find their roots in extreme pro-segregationist and anti-communist elements in the 1940s South.

" . . . Civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who saw an alliance with labor as crucial to advancing civil rights as well as economic justice for all workers, spoke out against right-to-work laws; this 1961 statement by King was widely circulated this week during Michigan's labor battles:

" 'In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights."

Short Takes

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this idiot should be

this idiot should be suspended.. why do we hate on one another so much?  we're still being divided and conquered by the powers that be.. we can't even get along because we have different experiences growing up.. there's no one way to be black in this country.. while we celebrate buffoonery, we down the brothas and sistas who "talk white" and take education seriously.. we can't get out of our own way because we always call successful blacks sellouts instead of congratulating them and asking how we can get to that level as well.. smh

Rob Parker Suspended

While I don't know Mr. Parker, I've known people like him who take advantage of a public platform to expose a level of ignorance that few people of reasonable common sense would tolerate. Questioning a person's degree of "blackness" is a bullying technique that many recognize, nothing more.

Therefore, his behavior is not acceptable. Substitute blackness for other hurtful words in Parker's argument and it would reflect the same derogatory atmosphere. I assume it must be an adolescent cry for attention among alphas. Perhaps what Mr. Parker hasn't realized is by creating such a dour track record of "oops" as he has, eventually it becomes a reflective beacon on his personna. The end result as determined with his suspension by ESPN is to question his ability to represent the sports network, not being taken seriously and whether he's worth the investment to pay for his commentary. Some will call his actions embarrassing, others will question his skill as a sports writer. Personally, I think his actions are that of an uneducated kid in a grown-person world where civic responsibility still counts.

People who are Black are Black, nothing more. If Parker read Stephen Smith's comments, he clarified the discussion by implying, "it's none of your business." Get it? Otherwise, the swamp of ignorance Parker stepped into has claimed another victim.

Why am I always the last to get the memo?

I must have been somewhere outside "the hood" when the announcement came down naming Rob Parker the supreme arbiter of blackness in America. Now I have to go dig out my official Black American membership card to check the expiration date. 

Maybe it's under that pile of Izod sweaters in the back of the closet. Damned alligators...

Even if the card's up to date, however, my official standing as a member of the black race in the United States may be on shaky footings. Let's see:

No braids. No mouth full of gold grilles or chains around my neck big enough to tow trucks with. No tattoos.  To me, "bling" is the noise a bicycle bell makes.

I've never been referred to as a mack, a pimp or a G. I've never slapped a hoe, nor any other garden implement. I've never "made it rain" in a club -- nor even in my backyard, where my orange, apple and Mexican lime trees could really use the water. 

I'm familiar with AK-47s, Uzis, MACs and Tecs, but never felt the need to own one.

I've had numerous encounters with police without once being arrested, assaulted or even verbally insulted. I've never spent one minute in jail, except as a journalist covering stories.  

And as you can tell from reading this, I'm perfectly comfortable with the King's English.

Oh, my God. Could it be that I fail the Rob Parker Test? Could it be that I'm not really a "brother?"  I swear, I've never eaten a cornball in my life. 

This is what happens, I suppose, to those of us who let our blackness lapse. What's an expired brother to do?

On the other hand, I have been denied jobs for which I was qualified, passed over for promotions that went to less qualified co-workers, been told by landlords their apartments were unavailable for rent -- five minutes after the same landlord told me over the phone that the place was available.

I've even been passed up by cabs in Manhattan. Surely, that must count for something.

None of this would've happened had I not missed Rob Parker on TV. Not his supremely ignorant comments on ESPN's "First Take." I'm referring to the press conference at which he was introduced to the world as America's GOB -- God of Blackness. 

I'm sure that part of that momentous event was devoted to outlining the minimum requirements for blackness -- or at least listing the inner-city liquor stores where one could pick up a copy of them.

Along with a complimentary 40-ounce, no doubt. 

Reply to Comment: "Why am I always the last to get the memo?"


Apologists in the hood....

Yawn ....

Short Takes "Django Unchained: The TV One Special"

Cathy (Hughes), Bravo on devoting a program to delve deeper into the subject of slavery and the movie itself.

Insane to observe so many

Insane to observe so many Black folks retreat when the reality of colorist and internalized negrophobia is discussed by us and not white interlopers. As a result if the legacy of racism in our nation we had to adapt and develop cultural tools and conventions to deal with white racism. Litmus tests and internal racial analysis has always been a functional and valuable utility in our circles. The lack of Blackness expressed by cops, hiring managers has always been a critical life altering saga in our communities. Black athletes and celebrities who leverage Blackness to promote corporate interests and products and hide from political and racial issues deserve no immunity from being racially vetted. It is also sad to observe a Black journalist be sanctioned for expressing an opinion on this reality yet again the shelf life if racism continues to inflict damage on our daily existence.

Cross-positngs from the Root


As I was going to submit a comment, an article popped up querying if whether a woman was fired for how she wore her hair. And that more or less summed up, to me, Rob's point. Do Blacks succumb to pressure to be anything except being culturally African American? When you live in the most repressive, tyrannical country by virtue of a two-tiered justice system that has resulted in deliberately producing the WORLD'S LARGEST PRISON SYSTEM, wherein African Americans comprise over 60% of the 2.3 million prisoners, do Black people feel undo pressure to conform?

You've gotta give Rob Parker guts for speaking his mind because, while not politically correct, some variation of what he said is discussed in the Black community, which, I'd argue, would be no different if a high-profile member of any other ethnic group culturally shuns their traditional ethnic group.

Bobby Williams


But why do you and others automatically believe Rob Parker? Do you know Mr. Parker was previously suspended from The Detroit News for falsely reporting a Michigan State QB was involved in a fight, when at the time the QB was with his parents? Do you know Mr. Parker called Hank Aaron a coward for not attending the game(s) Barry Bonds broke his homerun record? I do NOT believe Mr. Parker was trying to make a political statement about the black community. He was simply trying to "stir the pot" by reiterating some rumors (he could have made up himself) to get ratings. He has shown in the past he can be very ignorant.

"I'd argue, would be no different if a high-profile member of any other ethnic group culturally shuns their traditional ethnic group."

Can you name one instance a white commentator said a white athlete was not white or was not a "real" white in the same context as Mr. Parker? Sorry, the level of cultural shunning and narrow definition of "blackness" is unique in the U.S. to the AA community. The rate of this cliquish behavior is WAY lower in the various Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian communities.


If Skip Bayless had said that, we would all be demanding that ESPN fire him immediately. Rob Parker should be fired, too.

Bobby Williams likes this.

Parker's remarks summarize the evolution of (many) blacks' attitude toward society. There used to be the cover story that black people just wanted a fair shot and to have a chance to compete on a level playing field. We're now to the point that black people embrace the ugliest stereotypes and then castigate anyone who calls them out as "racist." White people can't remark on behavior which has much more to do with the plight of black people than racism or they will be branded with the "racist" stigma. If black people dare to suggest that black culture has a way to go (Bill Cosby) they are branded as not really black. If black people dare to actually succeed with all the same handicaps the hood dwellers have and expose the fallacy that black people can't possibly succeed because of white racism (Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell) they are distained as not really black. This means they did not embrace drugs and illegitimacy, availed them selves of free public education, learned to speak English, read, have a work ethic, etc. This is a betrayal of "the cause." "The cause" is to get as much money as possible by leveraging white guilt. The more white america extends it hand, the more (many) blacks pull back. Finally, cries of racism are used only against the right and white people. The absurdity of a mainstream "journalist" remarking on the color of a man's fiancee can only be understood in the context that it's o.k. for a black person to say anything they want against a man who chooses not to be a victim. It's now obvious that there is nothinhg white people can do that will satisfy these race baiters. Valery Kashin and grammamil like this.


It also appears there is nothing black people can do/say in the same vein. Whether or not the athlete is a "real black" should be turn around and asked of the pundit. It a "real black" only defined by the hood?

Calvin Mitchell

Real Black can mean Pro-Black, it doesn't have to be defined by the hood. The hood never defines a persons "blackness". It's funny that black people really take offense to statements like this, which is Rob Parker's opinion. Journalist and the media is supposed to be objective and not subjective and we all know this is not the case. Describe how this is racist? Can Rob Parker deny, control, force or infringe anything on Rob Griffin? He feels just like a lot of other white people in the media as it relates to black and white relationships, especially black men and white women.


It appears that in the eyes of this pundit, being a "real black man (woman)" means giving up your rights of self-determination.


Racist remarks by the media must be addressed no matter who makes them.

grammamil likes this.

Kim Brown

He sounded like a first-class idiot. Set down. RT @TheRoot247: Looks like you can't just say anything on ESPN...

Julie Reynolds

No way he gets his job back. RT “@TheRoot247: Rob Parker Suspended Over RGIII Remarks”

Ronnie Danquah

Instead of celebrating his talent....smh RT @TheRoot247: Rob Parker Suspended Over RGIII Remarks

Andrew Perrin

His remarks set us back decades. RT @TheRoot247: Rob Parker Suspended Over RGIII Remarks

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