Shortly after the extended video of Ray Rice’s assault on his wife Janay Rice was released to the public, the NFL scrambled to revamp its policies concerning violence against women. The league assembled an all-female advisory group to help review its practices, but feminist organization Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) noticed a glaring hole: There were no women of color appointed to the board.
In September, BWR, a group of female community leaders wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imploring him to recast a more diverse group, since Black women disproportionately make up 22 percent of all domestic abuse victims.
After three months of talks between the two groups, the women of BWR released a statement saying that the NFL has made progress. “BWR provided recommendations to the NFL on culturally-competent best practices to eradicating domestic violence and sexual assault during meetings with NFL executives held at their New York headquarters,” the statement read. “Some of our initial concerns, including the urgent need for the NFL to include Black women on their external advisory group for domestic violence and sexual assault, were addressed after our initial meeting.”
Additionally, the group recommended the appointment of Dr. Beth Richie, African American studies professor and Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Policy at the University of Illinois, who now serves on the NFL’s domestic violence advisory board.
The statement also said that the league is working to overhaul and reeducate its officials in domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Support programs for both athletes and their spouses are also in the works.
“BWR looks forward to continuing to advise and engage the NFL as they move in a positive path to getting it right by changing the culture of violence and abuse within the organization and addressing issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the NFL.”