Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Open Letter To Stephen A. Smith,ESPN Analyst, on "Oversensitivity in American Pop Culture"

Dear Mr. Stephen A. Smith,

  I am writing this open letter to you, in response to comments made on your show with Skip Bayless yesterday regarding "sensitivity" as it regards to race. Let me preface my remarks by noting, for the record, that I am a 37 year old Black Gay(Same Gender Loving) male that watches the banter between yo and Skip every morning before I head off to work. I am a big fan of sports, particularly football and basketball.  I was curious about comments you made yesterday regarding "oversensitivity"  of some groups, such as Blacks, Asians, Latinos/Hispanics, etc, and "homosexuals"(as you described us). You kept using the term "mistake" which I found particularly frustrating, in your overall statement that a person who makes, as you call it a "mistake" or incendiary, offensive, or derogatory remark about another group getting fired or suspended, and having " their ability to provide for their wives and children interrupted" by these seemingly simple "mistakes". Here are my issues with this:

1). On what planet, does a GROWN MAN OR WOMAN, need to be told, that when you are in the public square, be it television, twitter, radio, print news or blogging, that when you are an athlete or public figure, that "jokes" about race, gender or sexual orientation WILL be scrutinized, and perceived in many different ways, some maybe taking it as offense? When you give interviews and stand before the public, you sign an inherent underlying social contract that such comments, even if benign to YOU, may cause offense to others. How are these "simple, innocent mistakes" as you implied that they are? I have no problem with people speaking their mind, as long as they are adult enough to handle the consequences for their actions. Think of it this way: If you would not dare "joke" about the Jewish community, out of fear of reprisal, then that means that these people on some level are aware of what to say and NOT to say, so it speaks more to who you respect(fear, maybe?) and who you have no regard for, that makes it easier or more difficult to make incendiary "jokes" about that group.

2). You also made a remark that you "may just not know" if another group will take your(or anyone's) remarks about said group offensively. I think you are WAY too smart for this, Mr. Smith. Come on. Using the phrase, "CHINK in the armor" when referring to an ASIAN athlete seems pretty clearly offensive to me. (referencing the ESPN controversy recently). When you are paid to be in public, how do people NOT know to keep it professional? I have read more than my share of your tweets. You use words to push buttons all the time, and you are well aware of their intended effect. I do much the same. If I am on my job, and make a racially offensive remark to someone on the property during company time, i can and most likely will be disciplined. If you are an athlete getting millions of dollars to represent a product or company, EVERYTHING you say will be viewed a certain way, and by now, all athletes and folk in sports media should know this. Please explain how they do not. This defense by "ignorance" is a crock of crap.

3). I follow a Golden Rule, and this usually keeps things 100% tight and right for me: Treat others, the way you want to be treated. It's old, i know. If people think like that, however, none of this would happen, would it? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know not to call gays "fags, homos, punks"etc. or any such reference. Doesn't take anyone with an IQ over 65 to know that race is a SENSITIVE subject, and unless you got the balls to go there, stay the heck away. What I think you do not realize, is that many in your profession, be they athletes, writers, media folks,etc. can HIDE  a whole lot of hateful stuff under the guise of  it being a "joke", thinking they can push buttons, get attention, and stir folks up, because the groups they ridicule, they think are punching bags, and not much will be done. Then when they get fired or suspended, they cry victim. Come on, Mr. Smith. They underestimated the reaction, but they DAMN WELL knew that a reaction of some kind was coming. If they have to feed their families off of what they say in public, then bottom line is, they need to keep it cute, or keep it on mute.

Mr Smith, I continue to get a laugh and be entertained and informed by you and Skip on a daily basis...but let's not pretend folks don't know what they are doing when they say certain things. They just miscalculated the response.

Take care!


Brother Hassan


  1. Well done Mr.Smith.
    Thank YOU for serving notice to those not to make offensive comments when they can not come with an intelligent one.
    Its like elementary grammar, We had to RESEARCH,PRACTICE ,PROOF read ,and then wait a day or two before we submitted.
    Im sure there are many other people whom ESPN could have interviewed , researched ,hired and plainly pointed out the company policies about this behavior affects ALL employees at the company who have families to feed when ADVERTISERS pull the revenue and viewers boycott the station. They represent the IMAGE and the BRAND of their company not those of hapless or
    thoughtless BIGOTS



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