Stephen A. Smith And Jemele Hill Twitter Smoke Magnifies Black Kaep Divide

The heat over his stance on Colin Kaepernick’s workout was dying down when ESPN First Take Host and Kaepernick critic Stephen A. Smith went on former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes’ podcast All The Smoke and revealed that he was one of the people working alongside Jay-Z to get Colin Kaepernick a workout —  for the culture. 

That set off another firestorm in Black media, which led to his friend and former ESPN colleague Jemele Hill releasing a series of Tweets subliminally blasting Smith’s association with the workout, without using his name.

This is the one that sent Smith over the top. 

Smith then fired his response to Jemele’s tweets and Twitter went stupid (as you will see in the comments).   


Jemele chose to stop the drama from going left quickly and becoming a Twitter dispute between two friends on display for millions to see. 

The “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” podcast star’s response only fed the haters who criticized her for not calling Smith in the first place to discuss the issue; totally forgetting that Jemele has the quickest and sharpest Twitter fingers in the game and this issue involves everyone. It’s not a direct shot at Stephen A. He kind of jumped into the mix as an advocate for the NFL’s treatment of Kaepernick.  

The Kaepernick division continues. 

Stephen A. seems to be aligning himself with Jay-Z and the NFL, while Hill chooses to remain solid with Kaepernick, the original message and the fact that the NFL acted cowardly in its response to players kneeling to bring awareness to racial and social injustice and police brutality. 


Which is a better method of moving forward? I can’t say.

Love Is Love

The African-American media fraternity is growing, but it is still a small community. Especially when you are at the top of the game like Stephen A. Smith and Jemele “Juice” Hill. 

These two titans of media came up in the game together grinding their way through the newspaper beat in the 90s and early 2000s before exploding onto the ESPN scene and carving out legacies for themselves with their talent, brutal honesty, fearlessness when addressing race and their ability to evoke emotion from the masses. 

While these two are longtime colleagues from a similar culture, with similar political views and an understanding of the dynamics of race in sports, sometimes they will disagree. 

The Colin Kaepernick workout fiasco created a civil war within the Black community and our most coveted media pundits. There was the side that felt that Jay-Z should also be held culpable for the facade workout that the NFL conducted.

Black Media Divided Over Jay-Z’s Kaepernick-less NFL Partnership

The League claimed to be giving Kaepernick a shot at making one of the 25 NFL teams that showed up for his workout, but then further soiled the trust by asking him to sign away his rights in the 12th hour, revealing the entire situation for the insincere strategy that it was. 

While most African-American media supported and understood Kaepernick’s decision to change venues, wear socks with pigs on them and a Kunta Kinte shirt, Stephen A. was very critical of Kaepernick’s behavior and he let it be known on ESPN.

We now understand that his response was more personal than professional. Kap made Stephen A look bad because Smith was politikan’ with the owners on Kap’s behalf and then when Kap switched up the venue it damaged Smith’s credibility with Jay-Z and his NFL associates.

The $8 million man said Kaepernick’s claim about having to sign an unreasonable liability waiver seems disingenuous, given the timeline of events.

“One half-hour before your workout was scheduled was when the league and team officials were informed that you would not be appearing,” Mr. Smith said. “That was planned … Then you show up there, there’s a whole bunch of people with Kaepernick jerseys wearing, you know, ‘I’m with Kap.’ “

Smith concluded by saying the free agent’s actions are not reflective of a man who seriously is vying for a job.

Smith caught some major flack for blasting Kaep who is not the bad guy in the situation. Jay-Z was already catching his fair amount of heat for basically crossing the picket line, sitting down at the table with the NFL and Roger Goodell and forming an “entertainment and social media” partnership that has not been clearly defined to this day. 

From what I know of the two media geniuses personally is that they probably had that phone call or text exchange already and everything is patched out. What could have become a Battle of the Titans — a get your popcorn ready moment in Twitter history between two leading Black voices of today — quickly fizzled out because there’s no genuine dislike between the two. 

At the end of the day, they are on the same team as big-time cultural influencers, particularly in the African-American community, with a rare power to influence people and situations. 

Let’s hope they both continue to use their platforms wisely, positively and magnificently. 

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