The NFL is trying to manage two controversial domestic abuse cases involving high-profile black players by hiring three female domestic violence experts – all white – to advise a league that is 70 percent black.
The women are: Lisa Friel, former head of the sex crimes prosecution unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office; Jane Randel, the co-founder of NO MORE, which aims to “raise the profile of and normalize the conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault”; and Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“We are continuing to develop our organization to strengthen our ability to address the wide range of issues we face and other changes in our office will be announced soon,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo about the hirings. “Our goal is to make a real difference on these and other issues. We know that we will be judged by our actions and their effectiveness.”
It’s precisely their effectiveness that I’m concerned about. The NFL missed an important opportunity. This isn’t simply a diversity issue – it’s an issue of cultural awareness, cultural understanding, and the NFL hiring people who can directly relate to the Black family experience.
Friel, Randel and Smith are all capable women and I’m not opposed at all to white women being hired to deal with domestic violence issues within the NFL, but I am concerned that Goodell didn’t feel the need to hire any Black women to deal with Black men in the NFL on the critical issue of domestic violence.
And why didn’t the NFL hire any Black men? There are plenty of qualified African-American men who are experts on domestic violence whose advice and guidance may better resonate with a predominantly Black league.