Popular culture

Granderson: The twisted career path that leads from NFL coverage to denial of systemic racism

Recently retired NFL reporter Michele Tafoya tuned in to Tucker Carlson’s show this week to explain why she felt compelled to quit her high-profile job in sports media and get involved in politics . To promote her appearance, Fox News posted this quote from Tafoya on social media: “It breaks my heart that my kids are being taught that skin color matters.”

A rather rich statement coming from Tafoya, for multiple reasons.

First, she reportedly lives in Edina, Minnesota — a suburb of Minneapolis that was founded and populated by black people in the 1890s until they were systematically driven out by racial pacts embedded in property deeds. The covenants stipulated that the property could only be sold to whites.

In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that courts could not enforce covenants, but residents could join if they wanted to. Edina, which reportedly had nearly 3,000 residential properties with racial pacts in their deeds as recently as last fall, is about 85% white. And Tafoya says her heart breaks because “my kids are taught that skin color matters.” … Well, the joke pretty much writes itself.

Opinion columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports, and shipping in America.

Second, her attack on critical race theory is particularly absurd given that the league she covered for two decades could be Exhibit A for systemic racism. The NFL has been accused of racism in two lawsuits in the past two seasons alone.

The Brian Flores case over the hiring of a head coach is the most recent lawsuit to make headlines. But until recently, the NFL used a practice called course norming when determining concussion settlement payouts between retired players and the league. The premise: Black players were supposed to be less intelligent than white players. This has made it harder for black men – who currently make up 70% of NFL players – to prove gambling-induced brain damage than white men. The league settled the lawsuit for $1 billion in 2021 and pledged to end the practice.

A city built on racism is where Tafoya lives.

A league notorious for racism has been its beat for years.

And yet, she seems more concerned that her children might learn more about racism than she is about the racism happening around her children.

She spoke about how seriously we should take her views on social justice issues when she agreed to appear on Carlson’s show in the first place. He’s a man who said President Biden’s immigration policies were designed “to change the racial mix of the country, to reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and to dramatically increase the proportion of newly arrived Americans. of the third-world”. If that feeling sounds vaguely familiar, it should. “Jews won’t replace us” was one of the phrases torchbearer white supremacists chanted in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. So yes, if Carlson’s show is where you choose to appear , we kind of have an idea of ​​where the conversation is headed.

Tafoya, who identifies as a libertarian, would co-chair the gubernatorial campaign of Kendall Qualls, a black man who ran a nonprofit called TakeCharge MN. According to the website, he is “committed to countering the dominant narrative in popular culture that America is structured to undermine the lives of black Americans.” The organization says that “we also denounce the idea that the country is guilty of systemic racism”.

It looks like Tafoya has hitched her wagon to a candidate who, just like her, won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Earlier this week, she said if NFL teams thought Colin Kaepernick “could win them a Super Bowl, he would be on a team right now.” In 2017, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Kaepernick was “a starter in this league.” I interviewed a head coach in 2020 who told me off the record that the owner wouldn’t let him bring in Kaepernick, after the player’s public stance against systemic racism. In 2021, Alex Smith, who played with Kaepernick, said “it doesn’t make sense” that he’s not in the NFL. But Tafoya wants you to believe that it wasn’t protest that kept Kaepernick out of the league, it was simply his ability.

We all know why he’s not in the league…whether the Tafoyas are honest about the story or not.

Speaking of history, did you know that when the Federal Aid Highway Act was passed in 1956, it led to the construction of a number of highways that connected major cities to predominantly white suburbs, destroying neighborhoods and black businesses in the process? One such highway was I-35 West, which ran through southern Minneapolis, providing easier access to quaint little places like Edina.

Yes, this Edina.

But by all means, keep saying skin color doesn’t matter in this country.

@LZGranderson