A meeting has been scheduled Wednesday between the National Football League and representatives of the Black Women’s Roundtable, which had questioned the lack of diversity on a domestic violence advisory panel. Members of the group are scheduled to meet with NFL executives Anna Isaacson and Troy Vincent at the league’s headquarters in New York City, according to Edrea Davis, communications director for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women’s Roundtable. However, the group still wants a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“The women will urge the NFL to add black women experts in domestic violence and sexual assault to the NFL’s recently established domestic violence advisory board,” Davis told She the People. “They will also discuss other issues related to diversity and cultural sensitivity, eradicating the culture of violence within the league, and the date of the meeting they requested with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.”
Isaacson, who had been the NFL’s vice president for community relations and philanthropy, was named vice president of social responsibility after a firestorm over the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Three other women also were tapped last month to help develop new policies on domestic violence and sexual assault. Vincent is executive vice president of football operations.
In a Sept. 16 open letter to Goodell, the roundtable praised the appointment of a panel to advise on the issue, but also told the commissioner, “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.”
At the Oct. 1 meeting, Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the national coalition and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, is scheduled to be joined by women who represent a wide range of organizations including: Chanelle Hardy, National Urban League; Susan L. Taylor, National CARES Mentoring Movement; Janaye Ingram, National Action Network; Teresa C. Younger, Ms. Foundation for Women; Elsie Scott, Ph.D., Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, Howard University; and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).
“It’s not just Goodell who needs to get it right,” Campbell said last week in a statement. “The owners, coaches, and others in management must take the lead in the quest to eradicate violence in the NFL, other sports and, since so many young people look up to athletes, in the broader community. The NFL needs to step up given their role in society.”
The women say they believe the NFL should commit to funding holistic, family-oriented counseling, training and prevention programs. The Sept. 16 letter had quoted research from the Black Women’s Roundtable 2014 Report, released in March, which found that black women are the most likely group in America to experience domestic violence and are three times more likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women. “In fact,” it said, “domestic violence is the leading causes of death for Black women between the ages of 15 to 35, yet we are less likely than others to seek help when we are abused.”
At his Sept. 19 news conference, Goodell, when asked about the lack of diversity on the domestic violence advisory panel, said the NFL has had “people of color” working on policy, though he did not go into specifics.
When the letter was delivered to Goodell, Campbell told She the People of the importance of bringing light to the issue of domestic violence, beyond the NFL. “We have this moment. … We have a lot at stake in seeing there has to be a culture shift.”