BALTIMORE, MD – Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO, issued the following statement on behalf of the NAACP regarding KRON-TV anchor Henry Wofford’s use of racist stereotypes to insult and belittle Sean “Diddy” Combs’ interest in purchasing the Carolina Panthers NFL team:
Wofford’s comments were an insult not only to Combs but to all men of color who despite high levels of achievement and accomplishment are marginalized according to ugly racist stereotypes of Black men and are utterly unacceptable. A late apology does little to negate Wofford’s harmful words – and his co-anchor Darya Folsom’s supportive laughter – or address environments where this type of stereotyping is acceptable.
The NFL faces a severe racial divide between players and executives that has contributed to a culture of intolerance towards racial justice priorities and where the protesting of police brutality draws scorn rather than support. Rather than mock, we should all promote individuals like Combs who seeks to push the NFL away from a plantation mentality and open its ownership ranks up to diversity.
According to University of Central Florida professor Richard Lapchick’s 2017, Racial and Gender Report Card for the NFL, Black players make up roughly 68 percent of NFL teams, but there are zero Black owners or presidents across the league. The racial divide applies to other positions of power as well: the vast majority of head coaches, assistant coaches, general managers, vice presidents, and game officials are White as well.
Wofford’s comments also distressingly echo intolerant statements made in October by NFL team owners, Jerry Jones and Bob McNair. Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, made tone-deaf, misguided comments threatening to bench any players on his team who chose not to stand for the national anthem. Two weeks later, during a landmark meeting between players and owners, Houston Texans owner McNair was quoted as saying, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” McNair’s nasty remarks were made utterly without regard to the problematic nature of his “owner” title or the criminal justice concerns fueling players’ protests.
The NAACP refuses to accept NFL executives or TV personalities using their platforms to fuel and promote racist stereotypes.
The NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Read more about the NAACP’s work and Economic Opportunity “Game Changer” at http://www.naacp.org/issues/ economic-opportunity.