Editor’s note: The topic was previously written about in 2007 in this post, but after four years it is time to re-visit the subject.
Jim Crow laws, an institution of racial separation in public facilities, officially ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From the Reconstruction Period up until that point, African Americans were treated as the inferior creatures that whites saw them as being. African Americans were left with piss poor service, piss poor facilities and the worse in hand-me-down materials.
The Civil Rights movement propelled a change. The Civil Rights Act, supported and signed by President John F. Kennedy and backed by the Fourteenth Amendment, granted African Americans the equal opportunity to co-exist among whites. Shopping in the same stores, eating at the same restaurants (or without being served in the kitchen), getting education in the same classrooms and working side-by-side in the same jobs.
Imagine, 47 years later and in an era that has America’s first African American president, Jim Crow is still being practiced in American economy. It isn’t as blatant as having “Whites Only” signs scrawled across buildings and overhangs but it similar to seeing white hoods.
The industry that still practice a non-direct form of Jim Crow is sports journalism.
In a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics ins Sports for the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), it found that in 2010 97 percent of sports editors, 85 percent of the assistant sports editors, 86 percent of columnists, 86 percent of reporters and 90 percent of copy editors/designers were white.
Crunching the numbers down further, African Americans make up 1.35 percent of editors, 11.33 percent of columnists and 7.95 percent reporters.
There are only four (one woman) African American editors in the nation.
The most disturbing fact is that the new president of the APSE Michael A. Anastasi, who is trying to implement a program to diversify the newsroom, made this comment as reported by theroot.com.
“Now, there are those in the industry who will say that diversity is not important, that it’s passe, that in the big picture it’s not what we should be worrying about any longer.
“To those I say this: horse shit.”
It’s OK that Anastasi is on the African American side of this but for him to even have to acknowledge that those thoughts even exist within the newsroom paints an even larger picture of the situation. The picture is: ‘Sports journalism is for the good ol’ boys and we want for damn sure to keep it that way.’
And by them wanting to keep it that way is a major problem. In that same report by TIDES, it found that the NFL is made up of 67 percent of African Americans while the NBA is made up of 77 percent. When you have white people covering a culture, a race of people that they do not know, that they do not understand, race baited questions will arise such as in LeBron James’ famous Finals press conference seen here and the divide between black athletes and the white faces who cover them will continue to widen.
It took a large group of individuals and supporters to end Jim Crow in our society. The ugly truth is that there aren’t as many of us (I am a sports reporter myself so I am included) who are able to combat this particular battle. And with newspapers fast becoming relics in Americana, there may not be enough time to rectify it.