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What a Monday it was for Stephen A. Smith.
Following his racist comment about Shohei Ohtani, the privileged Smith dropped another offensive rant about the Nigerian basketball team.
“There’s no excuse to lose to Nigeria,” Smith said of Team USA’s loss. “[To lose to] some dude Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent for the Miami Heat. Or Caleb Agada. Or Nma, however the hell you pronounce his name.”
Some would consider that a poor choice of words. However, others — including Smith — are so proud of the comment that they promote it on Twitter.
Smith expected retweets of his rant. He got those. He also got slammed by ESPN Radio host Chiney Ogwumike, who is Nigerian-American.
As someone who has seen Mr. Smith’s daily grind, I have so much respect for my ESPN fam…
But as a proud Nigerian-American, whose name gets mispronounced daily, we HAVE to do better.
𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙣𝙮𝙚 means God gives. Our names have beautiful meaning & should be celebrated!🙏🏿 https://t.co/fvkaDHBYKF
— Chiney Ogwumike (@chiney) July 12, 2021
Ogwumike handled that well. She didn’t attack Smith’s character but his mistake. It’s a positive to see her hold ESPN’s top-paid employee to the same standard that the network demands from everybody else.
Ogwumike’s personal friend, Emmanuel Acho, jumped in as well:
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝𝐮𝐦, my Nigerian name means, “God guides me”. It what’s my family calls me. However, I go by “Emmanuel” to avoid being ridiculed or disrespected like the video below.
In Nigerian culture names carry power and meaning. Learn them & use them.
-Chinedum 🇳🇬 https://t.co/jv30fsO2RL
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) July 13, 2021
Then, the Nigerian basketball team and its players took it to Smith:
A one minute clip with no basketball analysis and pure disrespect to the names of our culture.
— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) July 12, 2021
Most disrespectful thing I’ve heard in a while. @stephenasmith is violating over 200 million 🇳🇬’s with statements like this. Those 3 men that he mentioned worked way to hard to be dismissed like that. Say our names properly or don’t say them at all. https://t.co/ybaHJohJmq
— Stan Okoye (@StanOkoye_) July 12, 2021
Translation: Smith may have to issue a second phony apology for his work on Monday. If he does, look for Smith to remind us that he is “black,” as he did twice in his first mea culpa.
Why does Smith’s skin color matter? How is it relevant? It is actually relevant though, and Smith knows it. He knows that ESPN has different standards for people based on their race. Because of lies spread by Jemele Hill and Mark Jones, ESPN is afraid to discipline black employees.
Had a white or Hispanic ESPN talent uttered just one of Smith’s two offensive comments on Monday, ESPN would’ve released a statement and possibly issued a suspension. In 2012, ESPN suspended Max Bretos for 30 days and fired another employee for a headline about Jeremy Lin that Asian-Americans found offensive.
Smith offended that same group as well as another group. But for ESPN, it’s all good. Weird how that works.
It’s as if those who notably make allegations of racism also frequently benefit from their own skin color.