SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele has claimed that she was kept off a recent network special on racial justice by colleagues Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves — for not being Black enough.
The Undefeated Presents Time for Change: We Won’t Be Defeated, which aired June 24 sans Steele.
Steel reportedly told ESPN management that she was snubbed from the special “because she wasn’t considered by certain Black colleagues to be an authentic voice for the Black community.”
She later confirmed the reports to the Wall Street Journal.
“I found it sad for all of us that any human beings should be allowed to define someone’s ‘Blackness,'” Steele wrote. “Growing up biracial in America with a Black father and a white mother, I have felt the inequities that many, if not all Black and biracial people have felt — being called a monkey, the N-word, having ape sounds made as I walked by — words and actions that all of us know sting forever.
“Most importantly, trying to define who is and isn’t Black enough goes against everything we are fighting for in this country, and only creates more of a divide.”
Duncan and Eaves released a statement of their own, which did not deny Steele’s assertions.
“We wish we had more than an hour to include more of the many strong voices we have at ESPN; however, we are hopeful that this doesn’t distract from the important message conveyed that night.”
Sports network ESPN did deny the reports and issued a separate statement denying Steele’s account.
“At The Undefeated, we don’t have litmus tests for Blackness,” Kevin Merida, editor in chief of The Undefeated told the publication. “ESPN has a tremendous range of Black voices, and we’ve been honored to work with many of them. … We had already talked to Sage a number of times about working together and look forward to that opportunity.”