Frederick Douglass (Wikicommons)

"Fox & Friends" quotes Frederick Douglass and 2Pac while shaming black families

No, none of this makes sense


Rachel Leah
December 4, 2017 11:41PM (UTC)

Last week, the NFL pledged to donate $89 million dollars over seven years to various social-justice issues that affect African-American communities. These included proposed donations to criminal-justice reform, education, and law enforcement and community relations, ESPN reported.

On "Fox & Friends," co-hosts Rachel Campos-Duffy and Brian Kilmeade discussed the deal with Fox contributor Amanda Head.

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"The NFL's multimillion dollar bribe to stop players from protesting is backfiring," Campos-Duffy said. "At least 25 players either sitting, kneeling, or raising a fist during the national anthem during Sunday football games."

While the agreement did not state that players must stop protesting racial injustice during the national anthem, many saw the effort by the league's owners as a way to quell the demonstrations and the controversy that the president has helped to flame. Others saw the proposed donation as hush money and insufficient as long as ousted quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests last season, remains unemployed. If the NFL follows through, it will be the league's largest contribution to a social issue to date.

Kilmeade said, "All right, this comes after the NFL agreed last week to commit $89 million to so-called social justice program and those causes in hopes of stopping the protests."

"A hundred million dollars is a lot of money," Campos-Duffy added, misquoting the pledge. "And, in my opinion, social justice causes is sort of code word for Marxist causes, organizations, probably, that just encourage minorities and inner-city kids to think they're victims versus empowering them."

She continued, "Frederick Douglass also said 'it's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,' which goes to your point that this would have been better, this money would have been spent better going to programs that help build up the black family, which is so broken right now."

Surely, some of the programs the NFL is donating to will relieve stress on black families, allowing them to build themselves up as Head seems to talk about. But that's not the real issue here.

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Sweeping generalizations about the black family of the kind made here are often used as conservative talking points by the right. It's a convenient way to remove culpability for backing policies that tear families and communities of color apart. The over-policing and incarceration of black communities is just once example of this, as well as an example of an issue the league says they plan to contribute money to reforming.

"All of these black players, I know that they like to hold pop culture figures up, as well as other athletes," Head said. "So Tupac Shakur did an interview in the '90s where he talks about how he would have been a much different and better man if he had had a father in his household. And at the root of all of this, it comes down to the breakdown of the family which doesn't exist to the degree that it used to in black communities."

For all races, the rise of single mothers and one-parent households shows an upward trend, according to the Washington Post. In an article about this phenomenon, the Post concluded that the rise of single motherhood "is an economic story as much — if not more so — than a cultural one."

So, to review: Fox News broadcasters used the words of black firebrands, revolutionaries really, to berate a league for donating money to causes that would help to heal some of the problems the African-American community confronts, and then used those very same problems, many the result of systemic racism, as proof that such funds shouldn't be given in the first place. Got it?

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No you don't.

These statements resist parsing and their literary meaning is almost impossible to fathom. The intention behind saying them, however, is easy to guess.


Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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