Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is pledging $13 million to fighting racism through his RISE foundation, which is a lot of money to an important cause.
But it also is a reminder of how then-Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills pointed out that Ross’ public stance on racial justice doesn’t mesh with how he held a $250,000-a-plate fundraiser for President Donald Trump last year. Stills made those comments last year and was traded shortly after.
Ross has given $30 million total to RISE, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, according to the Associated Press. But, like Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan speaking out about racism despite defending Trump’s economic policies, Ross’ relationship with the president isn’t conveniently forgotten.
Stephen Ross trying to ‘play both sides’ again?
On Friday Stills retweeted a message from journalist Jemele Hill about Ross, which pointed out his hypocrisy.
Stephen Ross held a $250K per plate fundraiser for Donald Trump, thus supporting the same systemic racism he’s allegedly trying to fight against https://t.co/MbZNtPiUzm
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 26, 2020
Last August, before Ross’ Dolphins traded Stills, the receiver said to Yahoo Sports, “he thought he could play both sides and I thought that he couldn’t.” Ross defended the fundraiser by saying he had known Trump for 40 years, and “while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others.”
Ross has a lot of money and presumably his RISE foundation is doing some good things with it, but it’s hard to take his comments about fighting racism seriously when he supports Trump, whose presidency has been filled with moments that have been widely criticized for being harmful to minorities.
Stills, who started kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice when Colin Kaepernick led the movement, had the courage to call out his boss then. A month later, he was being sent to the Houston Texans.
Ross’ words on racism don’t match all of his actions
If you didn’t know that Ross raised millions for Trump at the fundraiser at his home in The Hamptons last summer, his words against racism seem positive.
“Growing up in Detroit, I saw firsthand what racism did to tear apart our community, destroy lives and further inequality,” Ross said in a statement, via the AP. “I started RISE based on the belief that our nation must address the scourge of racism directly to achieve true unity. Now more than ever, our mission and the need for this work is clear.”
But addressing “the scourge of racism” should be more than throwing money at his foundation. Like Khan, Ross has to decide if maximizing his real-estate business is worth political decisions that go against his comments about fighting racism. Stills was right; Ross can’t play both sides on the issue.
Ross can support whoever he wants for president. That’s his right. But supporting Trump cancels out most of his effort to battle injustice, no matter how much of his fortune he donates, as long as fighting racism is not as important as making some more money in real estate.