Six tweets were sent last week by Artie Lange, supposedly a comedian, about ESPN’s First Take Host Cari Champion being his sex slave. It seemingly took forever — actually a couple of days — for her
employers to finally speak publicly in Champion’s defense.
Black Sports Online’s Robert Littal wrote in his November 4 post, “What Lange said isn’t just disgusting, it is racist and disturbed. Nothing funny about those comments, and in a world where if you say anything remotely critical about the Erin Andrews or the Sam Ponders you get immediately reprimanded. Why is there silence about this?
“Do you think we are naïve enough to think that if Lange said that about Linda Cohn, ESPN and others wouldn’t do or say something about it? This isn’t about Black and White as much as wanting equality and respect.”
White men too often see Black women and other women of color “as less than human,” says Danielle Kluz, the communications director of Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization in St. Paul that helps women and girls out of abuse, exploitation, prostitution and sex trafficking. Here are some more non-funny facts:
Females in prostitution typically are sold for sex on average to as many as 10 men per day.
Traffickers either are lone individuals or part of a criminal network — they can be pimps or even family members.
Almost 21 million people worldwide, 55 percent of them women and girls, are human trafficking victims.
In 2013 there were multiple sex trafficking cases in all 50 states and D.C.
“Our society does not take sex trafficking seriously,” adds Kluz.
Although ESPN eventually issued a public statement against Lange, Littal told the MSR last week, “I do believe that they [ESPN] would not have made a comment if there was not pressure put on them by social media.” He added that the network should have done more to show that they “have [Champion’s] back. I just wish that when it happened [ESPN hosts] immediately would have said something” about the tweets.
Women, Action and The Media (WAM) last week announced they will start tracking Twitter for gender harassment. ESPN’s Jemile Hill, in her tweet condemning Lange’s pathetic cyber stand-up act, called his harassing her colleague “Exhibit A.”
“Social media . . . is very powerful and a little frightening,” says Kluz. “We have to stand firm as a community and say that’s not OK.”
I have a great sense of humor, but after reading each one of Lange’s sick tweets, not a smile but a serious scowl came to my face. When has slavery become a joking matter? When has harassing women of any race, whether in person or on a computer, become acceptable behavior?
Littal asked why sports media or general media didn’t come quicker to Champion’s defense as they did en masse when a peeping Tom years ago took photos of Andrews in her hotel room and plastered it on the Internet. “I’d like to know why no other blogs who post stories about random people harassing media women every single day haven’t reported on this,” he wrote last week.
Does this mean that White females have more respect than Black women? Apparently so. “It shows you that we still have a little ways to go in our society on how we value women of color,” concluded Littal.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org