Tuesday, November 14, 2006 Updated: November 15, 2:50 PM ET
I'm hearing voices
By Jemele Hill Page 2 columnist
Sometimes, I hear voices in my head. And, sometimes, I talk back. If you want to get to know me, listen to both of us.
Maybe you should start with a funny story?
That might work. I could tell them the only reason I started taking journalism classes was because sex ed at my high school was being taught by someone who looked like he hadn't had sex since the Eisenhower administration.
No, something more self-deprecating.
Well, there was that time I ran into a plate-glass window and busted up my whole face because it was some really clean-looking glass.
Maybe direct is best.
OK. Hi, I'm Jemele Hill, the new Page 2 columnist. I'm 30 years old. I'm from Detroit (please spare me the 9,000 e-mails comparing Detroit to Uzbekistan and Fallujah). I like the smell of lavender, the iridescent glow from a full moon, and
I think you confused this with your Match.com profile.
Well, I need to break the ice. These people are going to be stuck with me for the next couple of years.
How about you just let me do the talking?
Well, I don't know
Hey, me on me is something special.
I'm sure it is.
So, where should we begin?
I don't know. You go first.
Do you know what you're getting into here? After all, African-Americans who work at ESPN.com have been accused of "bojangling" -- you know, behaving like a clown and making black people look bad. Are you going to be ESPN.com's black female bojangler?
Sorry, what did you say? I was too busy Googling tap shoes, canes and clown noses. Repeat the question.
Listen, do you actually have something to say?
Look, I'm going to try to bring a sense of humor to this thing. I'm not going to take myself too seriously, but I do have something to say. I'm not here to be the voice of Black America. I'm here to be a voice. There's a difference.
So, if you're not a bojangler, what kind of columnist are you?
C'mon, that's not what you really want to know. You want to know if I think O.J. did it, if I believe Barry Bonds cheated, if I'll stick up for T.O., if I love the WNBA, if I'll defend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, if I hate white people, if I hate black people, and if I think the Duke lacrosse players actually raped the black exotic dancer/college student/single mother.
You want to know what kind of black person am I? Am I one of those?
Yes, I discuss race openly, honestly and, hopefully, intelligently. Do I play the race card? Depends on what else is on the card table. The sports world provides a great platform for racial discussions. It's also one of the few places in society where, 99 percent of the time, performance trumps race. Most times, but not always.
Ray Lewis took flak for what he said, but was he right?
But wait, let me to go off on a tangent for a minute, but it will relate. Last week, Ray Lewis caught hell for saying the Tennessee Titans never would have treated Brett Favre or Peyton Manning with the lack of regard they showed for Steve McNair.
Lewis' statement pretty much nails how a lot of African-Americans think. I don't care if you're a postal worker, a florist or a sports columnist, black people all play the would-this-happen-to-a-white-guy game.
Now, the Titans didn't treat McNair coldly because he was black. No, they just didn't think twice about how they treated McNair because he was black. Black athletes, if anything, are expendable.
So what's your point, Angela Davis?
I am the columnist who plays the would-this-happen-to-a-white-guy game because there are just too many double standards. But I'm equal opportunity with the game, including Hispanics, Asians, women and men.
For example, would the NHL ever dream of tampering with the puck without consulting its players, the way the NBA did with its ball? And if it did, would NHL players be considered "whiners" for complaining about it?
I also would ask: If former Miami Hurricanes announcer Lamar Thomas were white, would he have ever been given a broadcast job in the first place? His criminal sheet is so long he could have been a foot soldier for Tony Soprano.
But let me get away from the race thing because I don't want you to think that's all I can talk about. To answer your original question, as a columnist, I hope to make you think, piss you off, make you laugh, make you reach for Advil, and make you cry. Mostly, though, I hope to make you read.
If this is some sort of preview of what you're going to be like on Page 2, I think half of the people who read this will find you annoying. Maybe more than half.
Hey, this is no different from any long-term relationship with a girlfriend, boyfriend or pet. At some point, your boyfriend wants to put anthrax in your makeup. At some point, your girlfriend wants to substitute your coffee with motor oil. But that doesn't mean there isn't any real love there. Or maybe those are just my relationships.
Subject change. What's your take on hip-hop?
"Condi, what were you listening to on the flight?"
You know, I bet on a slow news day the press corps asks Condoleezza Rice about hip-hop.
"Ms. Rice! Ms. Rice! Over here! Which is your favorite Lil'? Is it Lil' Jon, Lil' Bow-Wow or Lil' Wayne?"
(Personally, I think she's a Lil' Wayne person.)
But the hip-hop question is one that black people always are asked because hip-hop has somehow become the downfall of Black America. I'd rather blame the people who make kids as opposed to the ones who make records. But that's just me.
Anyway, I'm an old hip-hop fogey. Lil' Jon, though, makes me want to stick a pitchfork in my head. And despite what everyone believes, the most serious problem in hip-hop isn't the violence or calling women ho's. The biggest problem is that rappers are too loud and incoherent. I can't be offended by what I can't hear half the time.
I prefer rappers who have something intelligent to say.
That means your list of likable rappers is three people.
Anyone ever tell you that you're unlikable?
Let's get to the juicy stuff. Who do you hate in sports?
Just like we had the Industrial Revolution, Reconstruction, and the Age of Enlightenment, I have had significant periods when I've hated certain teams or players.
Not exactly Jemele's favorite players of all time.
First, before disclosing my hatred(s), let me say most of them are Detroit related. I've gone through the "Celtics Are The Anti-Christ" phase (1984-88), which was fueled by Kevin McHale's absolute abuse of the Pistons in the '80s and Larry Bird stealing Isiah Thomas' inbounds pass in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals. I'm sure there is a master suite in hell reserved for those Celtics teams.
I've gone through my "Even If Fire Ants Are Gnawing On My Eyelids, I Will Not Admit Michael Jordan Is The Greatest Player Ever" phase (1990-second retirement). I've also had the "Kansas Basketball Is Dead To Me Because They Routinely Shred My NCAA Pool" period (forever).
Currently, I'm fresh out of hatred. So, let me know if you have ideas.
I'll rephrase in hopes of getting a better answer: What do you hate in sports?
Athletes who thank Jesus in the camera and bed groupies off camera. Coaches who demand loyalty, but don't have any. That no matter how good a white athlete is, people will always believe he gets by on intelligence. And no dotted circle in college basketball. That one really burns me.
Give me two things you believe that logical people think are utterly ridiculous.1. Oliver Stone's movies are based on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.
2. "Old School" wasn't that funny. "Anchorman" crushed it.
Give me two truths people refuse to accept.1. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA until LeBron starts playing defense consistently. Yes, I know King James led the league in steals, but playing passing lanes and individual D are two different things. The only reason Kobe didn't win MVP is because most sportswriters are men, and to them, Kobe's tattle-telling on Shaq was an unforgivable violation of a dearly held Man Law: Never snitch on your boy.
2. If Sam Jackson didn't shout, he would be just another mediocre actor. He can't hold Don Cheadle's jock.
Any last words?
Got any idea where I could get a good clown outfit?
Jemele Hill is a columnist for Page 2 and writer for ESPN the Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.