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Jemele Hill & Ex-Black Panther Denise Oliver-Velez Clash Online

Legends & Icons Of Black Culture - Kevin Douglas Article

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WOMEN IN TRADITIONAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA

What happens when generations clash on social media? We get a misunderstanding between the former Black Panther Denise Oliver-Velez and Jemele Hill.

In the year 2021, it is common practice for people to voice their opinions and thoughts about current issues affecting their communities. However, back during the 1960’s, times were different as people voiced their thoughts through actions at rallies and marches.

This generational difference was not more apparent than recently on Twitter when the very vocal Jemele Hill got into a Twitter tit for tat unknowingly it seems with a powerful voice from America’s line of rebellious figures in Denise Oliver-Velez.

POLITICAL DISCOURSE

Jemele Hill has been known to check her adversaries who try to pigeon-hole her into the category of being just a sports analyst. She takes offense to the stereotype and rightfully so as she has worked her into a position to be a respectable journalist with her own podcast.

However, there seemed to be a clash between two very strong minded women when Denise Oliver-Velez spoke with Hill on social media about being out of her league on a certain political standpoint. The former Minister of Economic Development of The Young Lords Party and member of the Black Panther Party stated, “Young Sista – I suggest you stick to sports. You clearly have a very limited grasp of politics. Let me carefully point out to you that this is about numbers. Here’s a picture of the Senate. Dems blue (w two indies) Rethugs Red. Count”.

This was in response to her commentary about Democrat politicians and the right of citizens to show their power by using their voting rights to send a message.  Hill proclaimed, “The Democrats behavior can only be seen as complicity. Nice complicity, but complicity nonetheless. Letting @SenatorSinema and @Sen_JoeManchin derail an entire agenda is totally inexcusable. They’re worthless, but come mid-terms, black voters especially will be checked out”.

CLASH OF GENERATIONS

Jemele Hill was not a fan of Denise Oliver-Velez’s response about sticking to sports as it perhaps triggered her into past insults of people trying to keep her in a sports box when it comes to social commentary.

“And I suggest you not come with the same tired, racist lazy bullshit as everyone else. Stick to sports? How original. I’m a taxpayer, a citizen, and a black woman. My taxes are in this system as much as anyone else so I am very much sticking to the business that concerns me,” stated Hill.

What may have been seen as an insult to Hill was nothing more than an elder scolding the younger generation on topics similar to how Oliver-Velez felt her elders did with her during her more revolutionary days as a youth.

The revolutionary figure reacted to Hill’s response with, “As a 74 year old Black woman I’ll continue to call your triflin ass out when you are wrongheaded. Like my mama, aunties and grands did to me.”

HISTORY LESSON ON A WOMAN OF REVOLUTION

In this tit for tat, it illustrated the generation gap that sometimes hinders the community to work together for a common cause that would be for the betterment of the people who could use their strong leadership.

Perhaps a lack of history being taught to the youth and also the elders not being in tune with the younger generation in the hindrance for advancement in the communities of not just United States, but across the globe.

Sometimes it should be taken from the younger generation to understand the perspectives of those who fought so hard for the things that are taken for granted in the new generation. With that said, sometimes the new generation just doesn’t have the perspective because they have not been taught about the struggles and how some of the elders fought  with struggles to overcome them.

CIVIL RIGHTS ERA

A history lesson for those who do not know who Denise Oliver-Velez is. In an article she penned, the civil rights activist bellowed the following from an article entitled “Machismo Will Never Be Fucking Revolutionary”: On The Radical Rebelliousness of Denise Oliver-Velez.”

“I’m black.

I’ve been black, and proud to be black, my whole life. My parents raised me like that. They grew up as ‘Negroes.’ They had to drink at water fountains labeled ‘colored.’ They lived long enough to become Afro-Americans, and then African Americans.

I was, and still am, militantly black

A young Oliver-Velez was determined to challenge with others the idea of “revolutionary machismo” during her days in the Young Lords’ 13-Point Program. Her work eventually created change when their slogan transformed into  “We want equality for women. Down with machismo and male chauvinism.” You can find out more about her work with the organization in the book entitled  The Young Lords: A Reader.

BLACK PANTHERS

Oliver-Velez is a pioneer for urban media due to her work with the Panther Party paper which eventually led to her becoming an executive director of the Black Filmmaker Foundation. She was also a co-founder and program director of Pacifica’s first minority-controlled radio station, WPFW-FM, in Washington, D.C., and in recent times has been a contributing editor for Daily Kos.

Her father was an actor, a professor of Dramatic Literature, and a Tuskegee Airman. Her mother was a teacher in the New York City school system. With this background as a child, it helped shape her experience for what would become a threat to the establishment as she would help try to create a new way of life different than what her parents had under the systemic racism model implemented in the early 1900’s.

MODERN DAY SPORTS ANCHOR

Jemele Hill made a name for herself as the outspoken anchor and reporter for ESPN which would be unheard of in the civil rights movement days. A woman was not apart of the sports world on television or in real life in terms of major sports during the time period that Oliver-Velez was working in unison with other activists.

Much less Hill being a black woman in those days being vocal on any subject on television would have been a taboo ritual for its time. Thus, Jemele Hill will have a different perspective on how to handle certain topics and people because of the era she became a voice in comparison to her elder in Denise Oliver-Velez.

Although their plight on their work were different, the two women have shown the same spirit to fight for what they believe is right. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Hill stated soon after leaving ESPN why the move had to be done. “I’ve been through difficult swings in my career. It was about the fact that I can’t commit to something that I know isn’t right for me, that I know isn’t going to bring out the best in me and that I know is going to be kind of a waste of time.”

MODERN DAY MEDIA RISE

Similar to Oliver-Velez, Hill started out as a columnist for ESPN.com after gaining experience at the Raleigh News & Observer, the Detroit Free Press and The Orlando Sentinel. She began appearing on The Sports Reporters, Outside the Lines, First Take and SportsCenter. 

Her work ethic would lead her to television on the marquee SportsCenter with Michael Smith after stints on The Sports Reporters, Outside the Lines, and First Take.  Jemele Hill became the embodiment of what Oliver-Velez was fighting against in terms of “machismo and male chauvinism” in an organization by becoming a powerful voice in the traditionally male dominated world of sports broadcasting.

Things were going well for Hill as a top working employee until then President Trump had got into a Twitter beef with Hill over causing the NFL ratings to tank. “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have tanked, in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry.”

THROWBACK TO A TIME OF CIVIL UNREST?

Jemele Hill would speak out on the label she received as being too political for a sports program. . The final months of her stay with ESPN included remarks that President Donald Trump was a “white supremacist” and her suspension for comments made after Jerry Jones said he would suspend any player who “disrespected” the flag.

In an interview with Hollywood Reporter in 2018, Hill stated, “Mike (Smith) and I specifically were called political, way before any of the Trump stuff ever happened,” she remembered. “And I always thought that was a very interesting label, because frankly, I think that most of the time it was said because we were the two black people.”

The thought process was similar to the days of Denise Oliver-Velez coming up through the ranks of the political strife of the 1960’s. In recent times, the United States unfortunately had reverted back to a time when racism became the trending topic due to police brutality on the likes of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Hill was with ESPN as a writer, host and anchor for more than a decade before moving on to new ventures.  Hill, who currently writes for The Atlantic, hosts multiple podcasts including her won which extends her reach to the coveted hip hop generation demographic.

THE HIP HOP GENERATION

During the civil rights movement, the music of the day for Denise Oliver-Velez, included the “Motown Sound” with the likes of Marvin Gaye who would eventually change his tunes from the crooning of “How Sweet It Is” to “What’s Going On?” for listeners of the era.

It is no secret that some civil rights era figures were not in favor of hip hop such as C. Dolores Tucker, who had a rivalry with the iconic Tupac Shakur over his sometimes misogynistic lyrics towards woman and violent rhymes that contributed to the concept of black on black crime.

Ironically, Tupac Shakur comes from the same lineage of Black Panthers blood that Denise Oliver-Velez is apart of. Shakur’s mother Afeni was a card carrying Black Panther, meanwhile Shakur’s stepfather, Mutula Shakur is a political prisoner. It is this generation of music listeners that were around the time period of the 1990’s, that some declare Tupac Shakur the Malcolm X of hip hop because he touched on topics that were dear to those in underprivileged situations.

Jemele Hill’s outspoken nature touched on the topic on whether or not the new generation needs to phase out Tupac Shakur from its many top 5 rappers dead or alive list. In her mindset, she believes eventually there will be rappers who have done the same impact for the youth of today that needs the recognition. Needless to say, it created a controversy with the hip hop generation, but it showed how far Hill’s reach is with the social media era.

BRIDGING THE GENERATION GAP

The topic of different generations and having different talking points due to living in different times will always question perception of what is best or how things should be done. The greatness of seeing Jemele Hill and Denise Oliver-Velez is seeing them be able to come to an agreement to respect each other.

Who knows where things would have been in terms of leadership for the hip hop generation if Tupac remained on the path that we saw in the speech above. Maybe that is reason why some will continue to argue Tupac is top five due to the impact he had not only with his music, but with the way he connected with the people. We never saw the development of where things could have gone because Tupac was not able to sit down at the table with those he was in disagreement with whether from the government, politics, streets, or fellow rappers since his death is still shrouded in mystery through multiple conspiracies.

VOICES IN UNISON FOR CHANGE

With that said, it was nice to see Hill respecting her elder and great pioneer of not only urban media, but a civil rights activist. When she humbly apologized for coming at Oliver-Velez with “Let me apologize because I certainly don’t want to talk to one of my elders that way. But m’aam, racist white folks tell me to “stick to sports” alllll the time when I say anything on behalf of us. So it triggers me. Can you understand that,”? it showed grace and respect for those that paved the way.

Denise Oliver-Velez also showed great humility and respect for the new generation when she accepted the apology with an apology stating, I didn’t know that. Sorry it triggered you. Thank you for the apology. I still think you are dead wrong. Use your platform to get more Black Democrats elected (not fake-rats) to the Senate (and the House, and every other office) We need to energize, not demoralize,” it illustrated the experience and grace of an elder who had learned throughout the years how to handle situations on a stage.


 

It is understandable to see why there is a difference of opinions since one person comes from an era that was years removed from a time when blacks were not allowed to vote and the other seeing that their vote at times may not seem like it matters because one political party takes her vote for granted. The good out of this clash was seeing two strong women using their voice in unison all for the betterment of society.