February is when the world celebrates Black History Month. A month where the world goes out of its way to acknowledge the accomplishments of those of African descent. Something that is deserved as we all know the plight of the black human being in the history of the world, especially here in the United States of America.
Many companies and sports leagues put together media packages featuring their employees or athletes, or those black people that once worked in their company, or partook in a sport. Sometimes they will run campaigns featuring prominent black people from many different walks of life. even if that person has no history with their company, or league, as they try to give credit to those that never received it when they were alive.
Every once in a while, however, the message that is supposed to be shared gets clouded, and this year the UFC really made what I can only call a mockery of the whole thing.
This past Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 185 in Las Vegas, Nevada the UFC aired a package to celebrate Black History Month on ESPN+. No problem, they have, and have had many black fighters who have accomplished incredible things. Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Demetrious Johnson, Anthony Johnson, the two guys in the main event Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes, all black men, and all have done great things, and some have faced real hurdles along the way. The problem, however, is when the package started to run we saw none of those faces. We heard none of their stories or accolades, instead what we saw was UFC Lightweight, Michael Chandler, a white man as the face of black history, really?! Yes, they did that, and I was not the only one miffed by this.
Chandler was being featured because he and his wife adopted a black child. I love that the Chandlers see no color and gave this adorable boy a home, and a life that he may never have had without them. We should all celebrate that, it is truly an act of love that we need more of. With that being said, this was not the time, nor the place to have Chandler be the face for black people! In fact, he should never be the face representing the history of black people! Also, let me be clear here, I have no issue with Chandler, this is not his doing, unfortunately, though some folks will crap all over him for this promotional blunder, shame on those people.
If I were a black man, I would be upset, to say the least. I am a white man in my fifties, and I am mad. I do not understand how the promotion could be so insensitive to their black employees, and their black athletes. It is beyond insulting to have had to see this happening during a LIVE broadcast on any of the ESPN family of networks! I mean, who in the hell in the UFC marketing or public relations department said Hey, it’s black history month, I have a great idea, let’s promote Michael Chandler as the face of Black History Month!
Look, I believe, or at least I want to believe that the UFC’s intentions when they decided to put together this video package were good. However, I really can’t see how through the system of checks and balances of all those involved that this video was approved to be featured on the air for Black History Month. This video would have played better during the buildup to Chandler’s next fight. Showing him as a father of a child of color that he and his wife chose to adopt, that’s good television. It gives the fans insight into who Chandler is as a man. It showcases his character as a great human being. Now though, instead of him garnering praise for a beautiful thing his family did, I feel the message is lost, and the story loses a little bit of shine because someone thought that this was the story to showcase by the UFC for Black History Month!
Hopefully, in the future, this won’t happen again! There are so many stories to be told about black athletes in the UFC from the beginning of the whole damn thing. Fighters that have had hard roads to get here, or members of their families who went through adversity, or had great accomplishments. There is clearly no lack of black people currently and formerly in the UFC.
So many stories to be shared both good and those that would be hard to watch. I for one would have rather seen a story that was hard to see and made me truly think about the plight of black people throughout history than watching the piece about Chandler that we saw. Clearly, someone did not think this one all the way through, shame on them
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.