WASHINGTON (AP) — A leading black women’s group is calling the NFL’s decision not to include any African-American women as consultants on domestic violence “unacceptable.”
The Black Women’s Roundtable, made up of female leaders who represent black women and girls, said it appreciated the league’s decision last Monday to bring in three domestic violence experts as consultants.
“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,” the group said in a Tuesday letter. Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson has also criticized the NFL’s decision to hire three white female domestic violence experts.
The NFL on Wednesday said its attempt to curb domestic violence goes beyond those consultants.
“These issues are too important to be the responsibility of only a small team of individuals and require a collaborative effort involving a very diverse group of people,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “To be successful and make a real difference, the entire NFL will be responsible for the development and implementation of education, training and support programs.”
McCarthy also pointed out that part of the NFL’s leadership team addressing domestic violence includes the NFL’s director of player engagement and education, Deana Garner, and the vice president of strategic development and operations in player engagement, Kim Fields. Both are black.
The Black Women’s Roundtable said black women are the most likely group of women to experience domestic violence, and are nearly three times as likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women.
The group has requested a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has been criticized for his handling of Ray Rice’s domestic violence case.
Rice was originally handed a two-game suspension in July under the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he was charged with assault for the Feb. 15 attack on his then-fiancee. He was indefinitely suspended after a video surfaced showing Rice punching Janay Palmer, now his wife.
The NFL players’ union is now appealing Rice’s indefinite suspension.