Last week I was all over these internets. From commenting to MSNBC about the Indian Wells controversy, to interviewing Dallas Cowboys Brandon Carr and Atlantic Records SVP Dallas Martin about the Flint, Michigan water crisis to schooling Istanbul’s sports fans about the NFL’s messy concussion situation (twice), I was quite busy. It’s also worth mentioning I sat on a Women in Sports panel at the Business of Sports School.
Read on for the highlights.
Thanks to then Indian Wells CEO, Raymond Moore, spewing nonsensical and extremely sexist remarks about women tennis athletes, my week began with an early request for comment from MSNBC’s Adam Howard. At the time, the news story was extremely fresh, and though Serena Williams had commented, Moore hadn’t yet sealed his own fate by committing career suicide. Read the article to hear my early reaction to Moore’s disappointing comments.
Below is a sample of what the article had to offer. Click the read more link to read my contribution.
BNP Paribas Open tournament director Raymond Moore’s claims that female tennis players are “lucky” and “ride the coattails” of men were not only sexist — and “in extremely poor taste,” as he admitted — they were also wildly inaccurate.
The veteran tennis official courted controversy and renewed scrutiny of gender bias in his sport by denigrating the role of women in the game on Sunday, arguing: “If I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they’ve carried this sport.”
However, for the last several years, it has been tennis’ female stars who have arguably been the biggest draw for fans. For instance, the women’s US Open has drawn higher ratings than the men’s matches for the past two years in a row, and its audience keeps growing — tickets for last year’s match sold out before their male counterparts for the first time in history. Maria Sharapova boasts one of the largest social media followings of anyone in the game and ranks as the highest paid female athlete in any sport. Meanwhile, Serena Williams’ historic run of tournament victories last year and dramatic face-offs with her sister Venus are the closest things to must-see TV in tennis. And although there has been an uptick in interest in men’s tennis over women’s as of late, it makes little sense to pit them against each other from both financial and philosophical perspectives.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Williams was quick to condemn Moore’s comments. “Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that. I think Venus [Williams], myself, a number of players have been — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement,” she told ESPN. “I think there [are] a lot of women out there who are more … are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.”
Tuesday was National Water Day. It’s a holiday celebrated globally to bring attention and awareness to the clean water crisis many countries face throughout the world. Until recently, America’s always been a nation to aide others in this area. Due to our country’s economy and infrastructure, there’s rarely been a shortage of safe drinking water. Until now. The residents of Flint, Michigan are victims of environmental injustice, and I worked with SOZE and Global Hue to help spread the word about Flint’s life-threatening conditions. Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys cornerback, and Dallas Martin, Atlantic Records SVP, talked with me about the state of their hometown, why this cause is so important to them, how they’ve become part of the solution, and how you can do the same. Catch parts of each interview below.
Shana Renee Stephenson: A year ago, Flint citizens protested the conditions of the water on this global holiday. What does it mean to you that a year later, people are suffering from the same conditions?
Brandon Carr: It means a lot because knowing that it’s the city I grew up in, I spent so many great years…a good portion of my life here and they’re going through these tough times. When I first learned the news, it was disheartening. Once I found out the facts, you know, just started gathering facts, it became devastating to me, just how serious the issue was. And then talking to my family who still lives here and has to go through this on a daily. And then, like you said, a year later, we’re still fighting to make sure we have safe drinking water for the residents of Flint, but especially for our children who are going to be affected the most by this situation that’s at hand.
SS: Is Flint any better off than it was a year ago at this time?
BC: I think we’re better off in a sense that we’ve gained national attention now. The world and our country have supported us. We’ve received support from all over the country. All types of influential figureheads have stopped in and roamed the streets and met the mayor, so that’s been a big help for us. Just to keep us alive and spreading the awareness. But we still need a solution to this problem. And we’re also continuing to still look for funding to fix this problem in hopefully a timely manner.
SS: What do you think it would take for the world to hear Flint’s cries about the water conditions?
BC: It’s honestly going to take us being consistent and persistent. We have to continue to talk about the issue. Continue to spread awareness. Like I said, it’s a problem that’s not going anywhere. The city, they’ve had this problem for the last two years now. It’s an ongoing process, and we’re just trying to find ways to mitigate the problem. We’re trying to find solutions. But also, it’s going to take us keeping everybody in the loop on what’s going on, keeping them abreast of our progress.
SS: For those who might not be familiar with some of the long term effects that lead poisoning can have on children, do you mind explaining that a little bit?
BC: From the mental aspects … mental illnesses, there’s an increased risk for cognitive, behavioral problems in their development. Neuro(logical) and psychological functioning. So it’s some big factors, some big risks for our children. The livelihood of our future is being threatened right now, so that’s why we’re asking our nation and our government to continue to help us and to start to help us in funding so we can use some of those resources to try and get the ball rolling and try to mitigate this problem as fast as we can.
SS: How have your family and friends with children been coping on a daily basis?
Shana Renee Stephenson: A year ago, Flint citizens protested the conditions of the water on this global holiday. What does it mean to you that a year later people are suffering from the same conditions?
Dallas Martin: It’s so unfortunate, especially to see the city I was born and raised in to have to go through conditions where they can’t even bathe properly, or cook food, or go to the faucet to get tap water to drink. It’s sad to see how many people are affected because of the lead poisoning and it’s super sad to see all the kids that have to deal with this.
SS: Would you say that Flint is any better off than it was a year ago at this time?
DM: I would say, the only reason they’re a little better off is because there’s been some awareness, and it’s been people trying to help out and help with the conditions in terms of the bottled water. But at the end of the day, it’s the pipes that need to be restructured and until that happens, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on the whole situation. It isn’t always the best solution.
SS: What do you think it will take for the world to hear Flint’s cries about the water conditions?
DM: It’s very sad, but it seems that the cities with the most poverty have to go through the most to get awareness for what’s going on. If this happened in Beverly Hills, the governor of California would’ve been fired. It would’ve been a big conspiracy theory thing. It would’ve been a lot of people that would’ve had to take repercussions for the actions, but unfortunately with Flint being a mostly Black city, and it being a poor city, it’s not getting the attention it really needs. There are kids [here]. Even though a lot of people that were coming to help, were bringing bottled water, and were bringing awareness, which the city is very thankful for, it still hasn’t really helped change the conditions and people are still in a situation where they can’t even take showers, drink water out the faucet, or cook food. There are only so many things you can do with a bottle of water. Nobody can take showers every day putting eight bottled waters on their body. It’s just crazy.
SS: Let’s talk about the government a little bit. If you had a message for government officials on the local level as well as the federal level, what would you say?
And finally, the New York Times dragged the NFL back into the headlines with its report: N.F.L.’s Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Tobacco Industry. Believe it or not, the NFL and its unpopular stance on the link between football and CTE is grabbing international headlines. Beyond the Game, a Turkish sports show on TRT World, asked me to contribute to their broadcast and share an American perspective with their European viewers. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s the interview for your viewing pleasure.
Not too bad for a girl from Massapequa. If you don’t know where that is, check Phife’s rhime in “Jazz (We’ve Got).” #RIPPhifeDawg