It should be a rule that anyone who wants opportunities extended to minorities based on race doesn’t also get to whine when it’s pointed out that an opportunity may have been given to a person based on her race.
That’s more or less what has played out at ESPN over the course of this past year.
The New York Times on Sunday recapped the racial drama that continues to unfold at the Disney-owned sports channel, a fairly trivial matter wherein one woman, reporter and host Rachel Nichols, suspected an on-air opportunity she wanted had gone to someone else on account of her race.
Back in 2020, Nichols, who is white, had hoped to land a prominent job hosting pre- and post-game coverage of the NBA playoffs. The gig instead went to Maria Taylor, who is black.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in what was supposed to be a private conversation with a confidante in July 2020. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
The call, though, was mistakenly recorded on a video camera that was in Nichol’s hotel room and the recording was uploaded to ESPN’s servers. Some staffers got ahold of it and it eventually made its way in front of Taylor.
The Times report said that black ESPN employees who heard the recording believed that it “confirmed their suspicions that outwardly supportive white people talk differently behind closed doors.”
And here is how the Times characterized the offense caused by Nichols’ phone call:
Within ESPN, particularly among the N.B.A. group that works with both Taylor and Nichols, many employees were outraged upon watching the video. They were especially upset by what they perceived as Nichols’s expression of a common criticism used by white workers in many workplaces to disparage nonwhite colleagues — that Taylor was offered the hosting job only because of her race, not because she was the best person for the job.
Wait — when did it become contentious for a person to professionally advance and financially gain on account of her race? That is literally what the entire Black Lives Matter movement is about.
Taylor’s most notable moment at ESPN, to date, is when she delivered a wildly long monologue last year related to the death of George Floyd. At the time, she said “the black experience is not easy” and that “my patience left my body when I watched George Floyd take his last breath, so if that didn’t affect you and make you want to reassess the way you’re gonna address a question that includes racial injustice in our country after you watched that man die in the middle of the street, something’s off.”
What followed Floyd’s death was our supposed racial “reckoning,” which is now at its zenith with the Biden administration’s endless promotion of racial “equity.” At its core, that means considering and elevating people based on their race, a concept that has been pushed for more than a generation now at every level of society. That includes corporate media companies, like ESPN that have felt the same pressure as everyone else to make hiring, firing and promotion decisions with race as a factor second to none.
The logical outcome, no matter what way you cut it, is that some opportunities will be denied to white people (the “privileged”) purely because they’re white. Plum sports hosting jobs aren’t unlimited. Someone’s going to lose to someone else, and right now, we’re told by every major cultural institution that race should be a determining factor as to who comes out on top.
Taylor now apparently won’t speak with Nichols and is holding a very long grudge. Why?
Did Taylor land the job over Nichols because she was the most qualified? Maybe. Was race in no way a part of the decision to give the gig to Taylor? I’m skeptical and Nichols had every reason to be, too.