On the Jan. 16 edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” sports journalist Stephen A. Smith dedicated his “Final Take” segment to remark on the recent outrage over Black celebrities meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.
The outspoken commentator said that the backlash aimed at comedian Steve Harvey, rapper Kanye West, and NFL legends Jim Brown and Ray Lewis is unwarranted because he implied these men “see the big picture.” Smith asked his viewers to consider the impact Black athletes like LeBron James would have if they spoke to Trump.
“Has anyone thought about what impact it could have if Trump spoke to LeBron James?” Smith asks. “How about Steph Curry? How about Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Chris Paul, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, or a host of conscientious sports figures connected to communities, committed to helping inner cities ascend from an abyss that has plagued us for decades? What then? Will they be sellouts, too, just for meeting with the man?”
After last week’s meeting with Trump, Harvey received a thorough tongue lashing from friend and fellow comedian D.L. Hughley. In a short Facebook live video from Friday, Jan. 13, Hughley said that Trump routinely criticized and attempted to delegitimize President Barack Obama’s presidency by pushing the birther movement.
“Donald Trump takes pictures with Black people,” Hughley said. “You would rather have Black people be football players, comedians and rappers than [be] the president. You rather see us run the ball than run the country. That’s why you do it. … I will never forget how you stoked fears. F–k you now and f–k you forever!”
But Smith insisted that more celebs should at least hear Trump out.
“So, here’s hoping Trump calls all of those guys and then some,” Smith says optimistically. “So, why have a problem with Steve Harvey? While few of us are interested in hearing praise for Trump at this moment, let’s not confuse that with recognizing the position he’s in, respecting it and using our intellect to decipher where we go from here, not our emotions. After all, how far has that gotten us?”