Jemele Hill responds to racist letter: 'I'm called something derogatory on a daily basis'

ESPN's Jemele Hill ignited a conversation about race Friday after sharing a racially charged note she received from a viewer. Hill posted a photo of the note on Twitter and on Facebook, where it has generated hundreds of shares and comments.

The note, which was addressed to "management," criticizes Hill for her role as a female African American sportscaster -- and for not liking golf.

Hill said her initial response to the note was “laughter.”

“I don't want to downplay the seriousness of it ... but I'm called something derogatory on a daily basis," she said via email. "But that's usually via email or Twitter. The fact that this occurred through snail mail makes it unique.” Facebook commenters have referred to the note as "sad," "pathetic," and "unbelievable."  

The note is dated Oct. 23, but Hill didn’t read it until today. She doesn’t have a mailbox at ESPN, she said, so her editor typically forwards her whatever mail is collected. Some of the letters she’s received throughout the years have been threatening.

“I had a situation a couple years ago where I had to contact the US Army, because someone had sent me a really vile racist and sexist letter on one of their email accounts," Hill said.
"I probably wouldn't have bothered to contact them, but this person scared me a little because he made reference to physically threatening me if he saw me in person," she wrote Poynter. "I wanted them to be aware. They investigated and someone from that email account responded, claiming that their account had been used by another person and apologizing. It is what it is.”

She tweeted that the person behind the Oct. 23 letter “executed the hat trick of racial slurs.” She said that if the person had left a return address or name, she would have responded with just one line: “I still don’t like golf.”

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website,, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.


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