Sage Steele Arlington

ESPN’s Sage Steele has been in the news a lot recently, first for criticizing Mike Evans’ anthem protest and then for being on the receiving end of a NSFW rant from Miko Grimes, and she’s making headlines again. In the wake of Grimes’ comments, which were extremely personal and took aim both at Steele’s biracial heritage and her marriage to a white man, Steele took to Facebook with a post titled “Diversity”:

As a self-proclaimed, proud bi-racial woman — my father is black and my mother is white — the word “diversity” is fascinating. These days, I call it “the D word”. Why? Because everyone likes to say it. At work, at home, at the podium, at colleges and universities. Diversity. EMBRACE DIVERSITY! Fortunately, millions of Americans of all races, religions and cultures do just that. But, how many of us actually mean it? Specifically, how many people of color actually mean it? Or is it simply a socially acceptable, politically correct term that just sounds good, and feels good to say, or to demand? Unfortunately for way too many African-Americans and people of color, I believe it’s the latter. I’ve actually believed this for years and have spoken publicly about it a few times recently, contemplating when the best time would be to fully “go there”. In light of recent events around the country and personally, I feel the time is now.

We — as people of color — continue to cry for racial equality, diversity and acceptance, and rightfully so. That said, why must we continue to tear down those within our own race? Why must we shun those within our own race who think differently? Or marry outside of our race? Or vote differently? Or have “good hair”? Or speak differently? Shouldn’t we instead be offering up praise for our wonderful diversity?

My mother is a perfect example. Raised by an Irish father and an Italian mother in a small Massachusetts town, she went against her parents’ wishes and married the black man she fell in love with. What she dealt with fresh off of the tumultuous civil rights era was horrific in so many ways — which is one of many reasons why she is the strongest, bravest woman I know. So, instead of rolling your eyes at my black father for “selling out”, shouldn’t you be praising my white mother for following her color-blind heart and not succumbing to the pressures of American society back then? Apparently not. How about now, more than 4 decades later? Instead of giving me those all-knowing looks of disgust and calling me a sell-out when you see pictures of me with my white husband, or see me with my very light-skinned bi-racial children, shouldn’t you be praising that “white boy” from Indiana who followed his color-blind heart and married into a bi-racial culture completely different from his own, to help create a beautiful, color-blind family? Apparently not. Sadly, the list goes on and on, seeping into just about every social and political issue.

Instead of praising or uplifting each other, way too many people of color choose to tear down, mock and spew hatred at other blacks who feel differently, think differently, or make decisions that are different from theirs. That, my friends, is hypocrisy at its best. Or should I say, its hypocrisy at its worst. Here’s the thing:

You don’t get a hall-pass just because you’re a minority. Racism is racism, no matter what color your skin is. So when you call me a sell-out, or a coon, or an Uncle Tom, or any other derogatory term to let me know that you disagree with me, you lose every ounce of credibility with those whom you deem racist at the drop of a hat. Does racism against African-Americans/people of color exist? Of course! It disgusts me more than anyone knows and as far as we have come, there is still such a long way to go. I have personally felt it on too many occasions to count, and I will continue to fight it for me, my family and everyone else out there who truly does believe in diversity. But the fact that so many of us actually have to fight back against other within our own race, is incomprehensible and frankly, it’s pathetic.

So go ahead. Keep on keepin-on with that double-standard. That hypocrisy. Just know that every time you do, its sets us back even further, and I refuse to be a part of it. Instead, isn’t it time to look ourselves in the mirror and be accountable for our own actions, and not just point the finger at others? Isn’t it time to truly celebrate how beautifully diverse African-Americans are? Believe it or not, we can disagree and still be civil. Respectful. Kind. Accepting of our differences. Isn’t that what DIVERSITY is all about? EMBRACE DIVERSITY…but mean it. All the time, not just when it’s convenient for you. I pray that we can all begin to have more open-minded, non-judgmental, healthy conversations to ensure that diversity applies to ALL Americans, all of the time.

This sparked a response from Black Sports Online’s Robert Littal, who tweeted “So, yeah I had something to say on Sage Steele horrific post that could be a mission statement for black hatred” and wrote a post titled “Sage Steele FB Post on Diversity is PEAK Hypocrisy, Ignorance & Self-Hatred.” Here’s the key part of his criticisms:

The tone of the post is set right from the beginning. This has post has nothing to do with diversity but just bashing black people while praising that she is bi-racial and that makes her superior.

Black people are the minority, the only way diversity can be achieved is if the majority embraces it, but in Steele’s mind it is black people’s fault it isn’t happening.

She uses a bunch of stereotypes to try to prove her point.

Mainstream media and racists love when black people in power blame black people for issues that white people are causing.

When a black person is killed by the cops, the first thing they do is bring up black on black crime or a traffic ticket the black person had back in 1993. The focus on every single thing the black person has ever done, but not the fact that they shouldn’t have been murder. Those prominent black people will always have a voice in media because it is a way to discourage diversity and equality, not encourage it.

Every race has stereotypes, but only black people stereotypes are a blanket for the entire race.

Newsflash Sage, not every black person cares about your interracial relationship, your perceived good hair, how you speak or if you voted for Trump.

Frankly, most don’t care, because we just trying to live our lives the best we can in a screwed up world that at every turn tries to hold us down, our world doesn’t revolve around Sage Steele, we don’t care enough to shun you.

Also pay close attention to how she uses the word “cry”. As if wanting racial equality is like a kid begging for toy in store. We aren’t crying for racial equality, we demand it because it should be something every race has, but in Steele’s eyes it is frivolous and we shouldn’t be worried about.

You know what is interesting about this paragraph, the two people she says should get praised.

WHITE MOTHER AND WHITE HUSBAND

You know who really took the risk, during the Civil Rights movement?

HER BLACK FATHER

He is the one who could have been killed, but no praise for him.  I want you to REALLY read what she just said, she wants you to PRAISE a white men for marrying a black woman as if black women are some sort of plague. She wants you to PRAISE a white woman for marrying a black man as if she saved him from all the horrors of black women in the world.

Only a passing mention of her black father, who if anyone should be PRAISED, but god forbid a black man is praised before a white woman or man, because as Sage clearly states black people are the problem here not white people who should be praised.

Steele is right about one thing, she is blind to color.

There are clearly plenty of emotions on both sides here, and this perhaps shows the growing challenges ESPN reporters and others in sports media are running into. It’s very difficult to stick to sports in a world where sports and politics are so intertwined (remember, this Steele saga started with her criticisms of Evans’ anti-Trump protest and escalated when Grimes, wife of Evans’ teammate Brent Grimes, jumped in), but venturing into politics can lead to significant backlash as well.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.