“I would watch Sports center specifically for you. I would root for you silently.” Cari Champion told Sage Steele this week during her podcast ‘Be Honest with Cari Champion’. Steele and Champion were able to finally sit down during the 6th annual espnW Summit. Champion welcomed fellow ESPN journalist Sage Steel for one of the most powerfully honest, and empowering interviews between two African-American women to date. Can I quickly state how FAB both women are and look. Clearly, looking a both women, BLACK DON’T CRACK, and if this is what I can look forward to at 40, I can NOT wait.
For those who don’t know who these dynamic women are, here is some background. Cari Champion was hired by ESPN back in 2012 as a co-host on ESPN2’s ‘First Take’ along side Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. In June of 2015, Champion was promoted as an anchor for Sports Center. Stage Steele began her ESPN career in 2007 as an anchor for Sports Center. In 2013 Steele became the first female full time host of NBA Countdown. Steele has been the MC of the espnW Summit for the past 5 years.
During this amazing interview, both women let their hair down and got real about a few issues within the “business”. To begin, Steele explains the significance of espnW and the espnW Summit. “It isn’t this feminist movement. It’s hey little more- ok a LOT MORE recognition deserved in front of the camera, behind the camera, corporate boardrooms”. Champion chimes in “espnW has been able to give women who don’t necessarily have a voice, a voice”. She goes on to say, “We all had something to say. And it wasn’t like we never had anything to say, we had something to say, No One Asked Us.” Both women took the time to give props to ESPN and the men who have helped supply a platform for espnW.
Later during the interview, Steele got extremely personal and honest. Following a question as to why she thinks her and Champion’s relationship didn’t take off from the first meeting, Steele responds “I actually have always had a fear that other black women didn’t think I was black enough”. For Steele who’s mother Mona is white and father Gary Steele, who was the first African-American to play varsity football at West Point during the mid 1960s, it hasn’t always been easy. Steele explains that her insecurity which lead to her reservations, began in college. Steele’s husband is a white man, and has been told that she is a “sell out” by both black men and women alike.
In a move which ignited my inner Emmy Taraji P. Henson, Champion apologized for all the hurt and pain Steele had endured from other black people. Champion goes on to state,”…I’m very much aware of the fact of who I am. I wear my brown with so much pride. I am so happy to be an African-American woman. Standing in front of you today on Sports Center, I love everything it represents”.
Through out the rest of the podcast, Champion and Steele discuss their bond and respect for each other as two African-American women doing their thing in an industry which still in a way shun women. Side note, I love how the women explain their relationship with fellow ESPN journalist Jamele Hill. I could totally see Ms. Hill rolling up on both women like “you are going to be my friend”. This interview was so necessary, for not only African-American women, but women in general. The respect and encouragement displayed not only through this podcast but via Periscope as well, demonstrates that the women of SPN are some pretty classy women. We need to stick together and uplift one another through life. Weather on ESPN, in the White House, in Cororporate America, or simply in our own local communities, WE ARE OUR SISTER’S KEEPER!