'Why Are Women Mean to Each Other?': Jemele Hill and Cari Champion Join a Red Table Talk on Black Female Rivalry

‘Stick to Sports’ co-hosts Cari Champion, left, and Jemele Hill
‘Stick to Sports’ co-hosts Cari Champion, left, and Jemele Hill
Screenshot: Red Table Talk/Facebook

“Frenemies.” We’ve all had them—those not-quite friendships that seem to thrive on competition rather than compassion. Sadly, in a world where we are frequently told “there can only be one,” Black women often come to know this dynamic better than most. While we have become well aware of the dangers of toxic masculinity, female rivalry remains one of the most toxic aspects of femininity—one former rivals-turned-friends Cari Champion and Jemele Hill became uncomfortably familiar with. As Black women in the already male-dominated field of sports journalism, they were often pitted against each other during their time together at ESPN. Now co-hosts of Vice’s recently launched Stick to Sports, the two have come full circle—and are joining Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow and Gammy for a Red Table Talk this Tuesday that explores the age-old question: “Why Are Women Mean to Each Other?”

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From Facebook Watch:

Former rivals and sports journalists, Jemele Hill and Cari Champion, come to the Table to discuss why Black women often don’t support each other, and how difficult mother-daughter relationships can lead to toxic female friendships. Plus, Jada shares her own painful story about being betrayed by a former female friend.

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ESPN columnist Jemele Hill (L) and ESPN host Cari Champion attend ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif.
ESPN columnist Jemele Hill (L) and ESPN host Cari Champion attend ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif.
Photo: Robin Marchant (Getty Images)

Facebook Watch provided us an exclusive clip from this week’s episode, where Hill presents her theory on the origin of toxic female relationships.

“Honestly, some of our mothers have been really responsible for the toxic relationships we have with other women,” says Hill. “It’s like how we hear our mothers talk about other Black women: ‘Don’t trust her, she ain’t this or that,’ but we will hear them have a full-scale conversation with another Black woman that’s their friend, [and] as soon as they get off the phone they call someone else and talk about the person.”

“They calling somebody else and talking about the person they just got off the phone with!” Gammy exclaims in agreement.

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“We see it, right?” Hill responds. “We take those lessons of distrust that are bred in our home, and then when we get out in the world and we’re looking at another Black woman, instead of celebrating her [or] finding something great about her, we be like, ‘Mmm she thinks she’s cute with them shoes on... what about this... what about that.’

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Yes, we all know a mean girl (and yes, it might’ve been Mom); chances are, at some point (or many), we’ve been one, too. So, how do we replace the toxicity with trust and move past the insecurities to sisterhood? The not-so-mean-girls at the Red Table are going to talk it out—and yes, you can sit with them. The new episode of Red Table Talk premieres today, Oct. 27 on Facebook Watch.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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DISCUSSION

“Honestly, some of our mothers have been really responsible for the toxic relationships we have with other women,” says Hill. “It’s like how we hear our mothers talk about other Black women: ‘Don’t trust her, she ain’t this or that,’ but we will hear them have a full-scale conversation with another Black woman that’s their friend, [and] as soon as they get off the phone they call someone else and talk about the person.”

Shouldn’t one grow out of that behavior?

You know, like the child who is abused that grows up to become an abuser and then uses the “I was abused as a child” to justify their actions? No, I’m not saying that talking shit about other people is the same as abuse, I’m saying that they both have roots in childhood negative learned behaviors.