September 16, 2014
Open Letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Dear Mr. Goodell,
We, the undersigned members of the Black Women’s Roundtable, an intergenerational network of women leaders representing Black women and girls from across the country are writing to request an emergency meeting with you to share our deep concern and outrage about the plethora of domestic violence cases that has been exposed involving current and past players that are a part of the National Football League (NFL). In addition, we would like to discuss your recent decision to establish an advisory group of women to assist you in developing new policies to eradicate domestic violence within the NFL; and other diversity issues within the NFL.
The Black Women’s Roundtable appreciates the fact that the NFL has established an advisory group of women to assist in “development and implementation of the league’s policies, resources and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.” However, 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.
The Black Women’s Roundtable 2014 Report released in March 2014 found that Black women are the most likely group of women in America to experience domestic violence. Further, we are nearly three times as likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women. And while we are only 8% of the population, we make up 22% of the homicides that result from domestic violence and 29% of all women who are victimized. In fact, 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.
As a result of the specific circumstances of Black women and the fact that the majority of the players in the NFL are African American, addressing this issue in a culturally competent way requires the inclusion of Black women.
The Black Women’s Roundtable has been in constant consultation with other civil rights and domestic violence women of color organizations including leaders of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, National Urban League, National Action Network, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, National African American Clergy Network and others; and we will share with you additional recommendations in the coming days.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our urgent request to meet with you and your colleagues at the NFL. We will follow-up with your office and look forward to meeting with you at your earliest convenience to share with you our recommendations to ensure that the NFL gets it right moving forward.
Avis Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D.
Dr. Judith C. Moore
Elsie L. Scott