On Sunday evening, ESPN did a special report on the N-word that was poorly handled and hosted. For obvious reasons, this topic hits home for many people, but it is not ESPN’s place to have this conversation, especially in the context it was in.
First of all, the “specialists” that were called in have nothing to do with the sports realm; Common is a rapper, and the N-word in the music world is a completely different issue.
The fact that ESPN is covering this at all was confusing — They were apparently aiming to bring light to the fact that the NFL wants to give players a penalty for using that terminology, but upon watching the special report it was mostly different people giving personal anecdotes on the context and usage of the N-word, and saying very little about the possible penalty.
There are right and wrong ways to have this conversation, and this was handled poorly. We can understand ESPN wanting to do something for Black History Month, but having a discussion about the N-word at this time and in this way was in poor taste. Talking about the history and users of derogatory jargon is not celebrating the African-American culture as it is now, or even a flattering reflection of society’s progression.
This monologue did very little to further the conversation on using degrading vocabulary towards those that are of minority, and we would have liked to see ESPN handle this in a different way, in a different context, and with different hosts. But having this conversation centered around their own personal bias on the issue was not the necessary or appropriate way of handling a discussion of this magnitude.