According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, ESPN anchor Sage Steele was iced out of a special for the network regarding race after two colleagues of Steele’s, who are black, complained that the biracial anchor would not be accepted by the black community; or, as Steele herself described it, she was deemed not “black enough.”
“Ms. Steele said colleagues told her she was considered for the special by the executive in charge, Michael Fountain, until two of the other on-air personalities involved, Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves, complained, saying Ms. Steele wouldn’t be accepted by what they considered the Black community, according to the person familiar with her account to management,” the Journal reported Tuesday.
The ESPN special was titled, “The Undefeated Presents Time for Change: We Won’t Be Defeated,” and aired on June 24. “It was a reflection on race and sports after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis,” according to the Journal.
In a statement to the paper, Steele seemingly confirmed the allegations.
“I found it sad for all of us that any human being should be allowed to define someone’s ‘Blackness,'” the anchor said. “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,” the statement added.
A spokesman for ESPN has denied the allegations.
“At The Undefeated, we don’t have litmus tests for Blackness,” said Kevin Merida, senior vice president and editor in chief of The Undefeated. “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,” Merida added.
In a joint statement, Duncan and Eaves did not directly respond to the accusations concerning Steele.
“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,” the pair said.
Steele has bucked far-left identify politics on numerous occasions. On Tuesday, for example, the sports anchor thanked former NBA star Charles Barkley for calling out people in the black community for expressing hate toward white and Jewish people, name-checking entertainer Nick Cannon, rapper Ice Cube, and NFL player DeShawn Jackson.
“Thank you, Charles,” Steele captioned the video of Barkley condemning the hate.
Thank you, Charles https://t.co/e74A0prwy5
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) July 21, 2020
“Steele grew up around the military,” Outkick the Coverage noted of Steele. “She has come under fire for positions on social media over the years, including taking issue with all the coverage Colin Kaepernick was receiving and criticizing people who were protesting against Donald Trump’s travel ban for disrupting others’ airport travel logistics.”
“Recently, and this was after the special that she was allegedly frozen out of, she expressed frustration about how little criticism DeSean Jackson received for sharing a Hitler quote on Instagram in comparison to what Drew Brees said about standing for the national anthem,” the sports outlet added.