The latest so-called “proof” of “systemic racism” in the United States has arrived on the heels of the just-completed National Football League head coach hiring phase. Five of the new seven head coaches are white men, one is African American and one is Lebanese.
In an interview with Axios on HBO and reported on today by Chris Bumbaca of USA Today Sports, Washington Football Team (AKA The Redskins) president Jason Wright, himself African American, says these facts are confirmations of “systemic racism” in America. Not only that, but the color of the newest head coaches in the NFL is also evidence that we are practically inhaling racism every time and everywhere we take a breath.
Bumbaca says, “The recent NFL hiring cycle, which produced two coaches of color (one Black, the Houston Texans' David Culley), has refocused whether systemic racism is the root of the issue.” The other coach of color is the New York Jets’ Robert Saleh, of Lebanese descent.
Wright told Axios that systemic prejudice exists everywhere.:
“I see systemic racism, I see system gender bias, systemic bias of all sorts, just a bit of the air we breathe in society. … It’s more obvious because 70 percent of the men on the field are black men. Right? So I think it’s just the optics of it are, um, different.”
As the man running the Washington team, Wright says:
“The way that I’ve experienced racial bias, which is, I guess, is my preferred term, is something I’ve experienced ever since, sort of, actually through high school, college, and definitely my professional career, and it’s that when you have a moment of accomplishment, accolade, appointment or whatever it is. The first question in people’s minds is 'Is this tokenism? Is this a PR stunt? Do they deserve it?' And that is an additional burden that sits on people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks, that doesn't exist on other folks. It always pops up, no matter what the track record was before. And as a result, you carry that with you. It's something that every Black professional experiences at some level."
The white coaches hired to lead NFL teams last month include: Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers, Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles, Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions.
There is no shortage of media complaints about the preponderance of white head coaches in the NFL. CBS Sports typified it with the recent comment, “The critical voices are mounting within the NFL community – and outside of it as well – about another head coach hiring cycle that seems to be lacking in diversity.”
Nonetheless, it’s ridiculous to attach the “systemic racism” smear to the entire nation based on the skin color of 32 NFL coaches and one team president’s opinion.
In the Axios interview, Wright also addressed the Washington Football Team’s nickname in the framework of – what else? -- race. Last year, Washington gave in to pressure by social justice warriors and corporate sponsors to tomahawk its long-time Redskins nickname. Since then, it’s been operating by the bland “Washington Football Team” identifier.
The Axios interviewer wanted to get Wright’s opinion on whether or not the Redskins name is racist.
"I come from this bubble that definitely had that mindset, 'Oh this is definitely a derogatory term,' " Wright said. "I had all the analogies in my head for what it would be for a Black person, all that stuff. That was the broad narrative.”
Football has a big place in American culture, but now that sports media is elevating a team president to the role of assessing race relations on a national basis – and condemning America in the process – it’s a big red flag.