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On Institutional Racism, Stephen A. Still Doesn’t Get It

Sometimes I wonder whether these tenuous times are something unique and new, but then I realize the dialectic is what media is really all about.

Sometimes I wonder whether these tenuous times are something unique and new, but then I realize the dialectic is what media is really all about. Still, the rapid fire nature of this beast with a billion eyes and a trillion opinions is daunting. Wading into this vat of bloviated statements and posturing comes with being given the privilege of editorializing on a broad range of subjects for The Shadow League, the leading sports and cultural portal on the web.

When it comes to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, it can’t be overstated how many skins he has on the wall in the sports journalism business.

However, once again, his grasp of what it is to protest in America, and what protest has historically meant to the African American community, has been wobbly at best.

Indeed, I don’t believe there’s anything phony about his recent comments about Colin Kaepernick. In case you ain’t heard, Stephen A. went off on one of his signature tirades about the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s refusal to vote in the presidential election. It was inline with Smith’s prior non-sports statements, which always seem to be pro-establishment and a smidge to the right politically.


To even have an opinion on whether or not another individual chooses to vote, in my opinion, is a practice in hypocrisy. It is just as much a Constitution protected right to vote, as it is not to vote. Additionally, Kaepernick has been on record regarding his motivations from jump.


Black lives are being extinguished in America and it is directly connected to the systematic racism that is embedded into its very fiber. I voted, but how could I, as black man fully aware of every inch of Kaep’s argument, be the least bit moved by Colin’s decision NOT to vote?

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That’s why I believe Stephen A. still hasn’t grasped the concept of institutional racism. The electoral college, for example, was purposefully designed to give slave holding states an inordinate amount of power. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than a million votes, but Donald J. Trump will inaugurated in January.

Image title(Photo Credit: The Sporting News)


Additionally, states like North Carolina purged thousands in a blatant attempt to suppress the black vote.

So, in a world where the “Your Vote Counts” is proven to be a misnomer, and where American society’s vibrancy is fueled by Black death and suffering, and where even President Barack H. Obama’s two terms have seen very little change for the average black person in America, Stephen A. wants to black out on Colin Kaepernick for not voting. Ridiculous.


I could make the argument that Kaep is accomplishing far more with his recent ‘Know Your Rights’ youth camp than his one vote.

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What?

Was he supposed to backtrack on his message and endorse a candidate? Is he supposed to acquiesce to society’s viewpoint? The same society that doesn’t believe in the concept of black oppression? The same society that refuses to outlaw the Confederate flag?

The same society that elected Donald J. Trump as president? That society? Horrid reasoning from an otherwise intelligent man. Indeed, simply being black doesn’t qualify to understand black struggle. Stephen A. Smith proves this once again. 

Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.