The beginning of the NFL’s 2014 season has been marked by scandals around players’ off-field behavior. But each time the league mustered an official response, it seemed to invite even more criticism — especially in the case of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was seen on surveillance video punching his then-fiancée and knocking her unconscious.
In late August, Roger Goodell, the football league’s commissioner, announced several programs meant to reduce domestic violence in the NFL and nationally. But on Sept. 16, the Black Women’s Roundtable, a group made up of Black women who are civic leaders, requested what they called an emergency meeting with Goodell. They wrote that they were outraged about the recent news surrounding domestic violence and the NFL, but just as concerned about who was left out of the league’s plans to tackle it:
“The Black Women’s Roundtable appreciates the fact that the NFL has established an advisory group of women to assist in ‘development and implementation of the league’s policies, resources and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.’ However, your lack of inclusion of women of color, especially Black women who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault; and the fact that over 66% of the NFL players are made up of African Americans is unacceptable.”
Last Wednesday, several women from African-American women’s organizations met with NFL officials for several hours to discuss. “I think it was a good first step, allowing us to come and share our perspectives,” said Stephanie Hightower, who heads the Columbus Urban League and attended the meeting. The Roundtable members asked for a follow-up meeting with Goodell in the next few weeks.
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