National Football League Commissioner, Roger Goodell finally met with members of the Black Women’s Roundtable last week after failing to invite any women of color to weigh in on the League’s initial plan of action on domestic violence.
Two months ago, Goodell announced the formation of an advisory board tasked with leading institutional reforms related to relationship violence and sexual assault. Goodell appointed an all white female trio to lead the advisory board, despite the over-representation of African Americans in the NFL, and as the Black Women’s Roundtable pointed out, despite the overwhelming representation of African American women among relationship violence victims.
In an open letter to Goodell, Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, called on the League to bring a more diverse pool of experts to the table to ensure the diversity of the people impacted by any changes is reflected.
According to the New York Daily News, the League has responded positively to criticism that the Advisory Board has a diversity problem. In early October the League appointed Tony Porter and Dr. Beth E. Richie as consultants to the group. Porter, who heads the violence prevention program A Call to Men, was originally named as one of the two life-skills training and education resource professionals the NFL planned to turn to for players’ professional development support. Dr. Richie is the director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as professor of African American and gender studies at the University. A spokesperson for the Black Women’s Roundtable told the Feminist Newswire their team has long been “very impressed” with Dr. Richie’s credentials.
In a statement issued to the public, Melanie Campbell said the two-hour meeting on Friday with the commissioner “covered a lot of ground.”
The meeting comes just as Ray Rice waits for the outcome of an arbitration hearing that could lead to his reinstatement with the NFL. Conflicting testimony about Rice’s confession to the commissioner has again brought Goodell under fire. During the two days of hearings, Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome reportedly testified that Rice did not lie to the Commissioner about punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer Rice. However, Goodell has repeatedly said Rice was “ambiguous” about his actions. That contradiction could determine the outcome of Rice’s appeal, which is entirely based on the claim that Goodell punished Rice twice for the same incident.
Media Resources: New York Daily News 11/14/14; Feminist Newswire 9/29/14, 9/18/14; SB Nation 11/6/14; CBS News 9/10/14; National Coalition on Black Civic Participation 9/16/14; ESPN.com 10/2/14