NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently hired four women — Anna Isaacson, Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith to help create the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policies. But, there’s one minor issue: all the women Goodell hired are White. One Black women’s group, The Black Women’s Roundtable called him out on it, saying they find it “unacceptable” that he didn’t consider hiring one Black woman.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Goodell sent a memo to all 32 NFL teams that saying that Isaacson, who was an NFL executive, will be vice president of social policy, while the other three women will act as consultants to help create the policies.
“(Goodell’s) lack of inclusion of women of color, especially black women who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault; and the fact that over 66% of the NFL players are made up of African-Americans, is unacceptable,” the group said in a letter that was reported on ABC News.
NFL Spokesperson Brian McCathy said to ABC that the league’s domestic violence polices will not only be shaped by those three consultants. “These issues are too important to be the responsibility of only a small team of individuals and require a collaborative effort involving a very diverse group of people,” he said. McCathy also added that Deana Garner, a Black woman who serves as the NFL’s director of player engagement and education, and Kim Fields, another Black woman who serves as the league’s vice president of strategic development and operations in player engagement, will be a part of the domestic violence policy team.
The vicious video of Ray Rice literally beating his wife Janay Palmer to the ground made it clear that domestic violence is a prevalent issue, but it’s even more of an issue for African American women. According to a study by the National Resource Center On Domestic Violence, African American women experience intimate partner violence 35 percent higher than their White female counterparts and 2.5 times the rate of women of other races. And, the same report states that 29.1 percent of Black females will fall victim to intimate partner violence–rape, physical assault, stalking–in their lifetime. Many women on Twitter were brave to talk about their own abusive experiences under the #WhyIStayed hashtag.
Considering the stats of Black female victims and the percentage of Black NFL players that the Roundtable group pointed out, wouldn’t it make sense for Goodell to hire at least one Black woman who has worked with domestic violence victims? It’s great that Goodell took the time to hire Lisa Friel, a New York City lawyer who was in charge of sex crime prosecutions, Rita Smith, former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Jane Randel, co-founder of domestic violence organization NO MORE. But, why don’t any of the Black women that McCathy mentioned on board have domestic violence advocacy backgrounds, too?
A quick Google search of Smith and Garner only points out Smith’s NFL career rise from being the Director of Civic & Business Affairs of the Minnesota Vikings to the Vice President of Player Engagement, and an article by Garner about NFL Security Safety. And, while these Black women deserve their shine for having such high positions in the NFL, there are at least three women of color–with experience handling domestic violence issues–that Goodell could have considered including.
He could have thought about talking with Madeline Garcia Bigelow, the Associate Executive Director and Director of the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center. The Project she founded in 2003 is composed of attorneys, social workers and advocates who have worked with victims of domestic violence. She served as Legal Director of Sanctuary for Families’ Bronx office before creating the group and spent six years at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in Domestic Violence/Sex Crimes bureau.
Goodell could have considered Dr. Shelia Hankins, the Project Director of the National Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community. In her role as director, while also providing training services nationwide, she leads developing programs for domestic violence, sexual assault and batterers’ intervention programs.
Or, he could’ve considered Asia Smith, the founder of Purple R.E.I.G.N., who was also victim of an abusive relationship that lasted four years. First Lady of New Jersey Pat Christie honored her last year as a New Jersey Hero and Smith mentioned her aunt who was also a victim of abuse. “I am honored beyond words to receive the New Jersey Heroes…on behalf of an incredible aunt that I never had the opportunity to know,” she said during her acceptance speech, “because at the age of 24, she was viciously attacked as she left work and murdered by her estranged husband.” Abuse ran in her own family and she experienced it herself. Don’t you think it would be appropriate for her to consult NFL executives?
What do you beauties think?