Just days after she tearfully left her lucrative and high-profile job as sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football, Michele Tafoya appeared on right-wing media networks to show her true colors.
There’s a feeling of repugnance, seeing Tafoya’s recent comments contrasted with the fact that for years she was smiling in the faces of Black coaches and players to mine them for nuggets of information to make sure she looked good in her job, but we’ll set that aside for now.
There’s also a familiar feeling of disgust, as in some cases she is turning to lies – or at minimum a painfully thin understanding of American history – to prop up her statements. Saying Colin Kaepernick made “business decisions” in protesting the extrajudicial killings of Black citizens by agents of the state, as she told one radio show, is flat out untrue. Kaepernick didn’t sit and then kneel with the aim of leaving his job.
The NFL made a business decision by excising him from its league, listening to a loud minority of people, including the former president of the United States, who called Kaepernick and others “sons of bitches” for daring to silently protest and completely ignoring the Black fans and others who understood his message and at minimum supported his method.
(And if we’re talking about business decisions, let the record reflect that Kaepernick stood on his principles while he was still playing and had his career taken from him. Tafoya waited until she knew she was leaving NBC before she started spewing her venom, lest she face any backlash.)
One talking point for Tafoya, which she touched on in November while auditioning for “The View” and returned to again Wednesday night on Fox News, is that her children are being taught that skin color matters. She cited affinity groups for children of similar backgrounds and a picnic for families of color at the school. In classic Karen style, she even apparently called the school to rail about the picnic, saying she was “stepping up.”
She wasn’t stepping up, she was just mad there was something other families were getting that hers didn’t.
Affinity groups exist everywhere, and they always have. White people just used to call it legal segregation.
“It breaks my heart that my kids are being taught that skin color matters,” Tafoya sighed.
It is completely ahistorical for Tafoya to assert, as she did a few months ago, that white people have been working “since the Civil War” to make sure that skin color doesn’t matter in this country, as if the legions of Confederates weren’t fighting for the exact opposite, as if the violence of the Jim Crow era and civil rights movement never happened, as if data to this very day, from the rise in hate crimes to the widening racial wealth gap to disparities in health care access don’t disprove her assertion.
And as if this video does not exist.
Taken at Somerset Commons mall in New Jersey last weekend – the same weekend Tafoya was in Los Angeles reporting on Super Bowl LVI, her final game before getting to lose the shackles of faux civility in her interactions with Black NFL coaches and players – the video as we see it shows a white-appearing Latino teenager and a Black teenager arguing. When the Latino boy starts sticking a finger in the Black boy’s face, the Black boy swats it away.
They start to throw punches, and of course the peers around them pull out their phones to record it.
Within seconds, two police officers arrive. The female officer pulls the Latino child off the Black child and sits him on a small couch at the scene. The male officer throws himself on top of the Black child, smacking the child’s head on a small table and knocking it over.
While the male officer fights to place the Black boy’s arms behind his back to put him in handcuffs, the female officer leaves the other boy sitting on the couch to kneel on the upper shoulders and lower neck area of the Black child, prone on the floor with an adult man already on him.
At one point the other child stands up off the couch. The police pay him no mind.
The kids around knew exactly what was happening; you can hear one girl’s voice toward the end say, “It’s because he’s Black … racially motivated!” The Latino teenager told a local news outlet that he couldn’t believe what happened: “I didn’t understand why. I even offered to get handcuffed.”
The police in that situation very clearly saw skin color. The white-appearing Latino teenager, the one that looks to have been the aggressor and was on top of the Black teenager when they arrived, was treated as he should have been. As they both should have been. It was a fistfight between kids. Neither should have been in handcuffs. Break it up, let them disperse and go on with their days.
But the Black child was immediately treated as a threat and violently placed into cuffs, something that will haunt him for weeks if not longer. Something that Black mothers and Black fathers have seen happen again and again to our children. Something people like Tafoya want us to get “get over” because they believe it’s “in the rearview mirror,” as she said this week.
That teenager was taught something about his skin that day: that it’s seen as a threat. That is heartbreaking.
Don’t worry Michele, no one expects you to “step up” and talk about how awful this incident was, how a Black teenager was clearly singled out, traumatized by police in a clear case of racial bias.
You’ve shown your true colors.