Winston Salem State Graduates Bamboozled: Stephen A. Smith Talking Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

By Harold Bell

In a story written in The Winston-Salem Journal on Sunday May 15, 2011, by Annette Fuller, Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN commentator and sports journalist, told the graduating students at Winston-Salem State University that they could party that night, rest on Sunday and then go out and find a job on Monday morning.

He said, “If you want to be somebody, you’ve got to annihilate the competition.”  Smith, graduated from WSSU in 1991.

He went on to say “Anything less is a waste of your time and a waste for the people who believe in you.  And once you give the world your all, “you have to do it over and over and over again,” he said. “I’m in no mood to mince words,” he said in the commencement speech from the podium.

He told the graduates to look up in the stands and wave to their parents and family.  “They’re not happy for you,” he said. “They’re happy for them. They don’t want you anymore. They’re happy because now you get to pay your own phone bill,” he said to laughter and applause.

In the spring of 2011, “entering the world is as serious as it gets,” Smithsaid. “We have over 13 million unemployed.”  The question is: “What is waiting for you?” he asked the graduates.

“For those who are lazy: nothing. For those looking for shortcuts: nothing,” he said. “It’s every man for himself out there.”

He said he has no use for those who constantly say, “It’s not fair.”

“One of my bosses once told me, ‘Fair is a place where they judge pigs,'” he said. “Nobody cares about fairness. Everybody is out there trying to get theirs,” and you’ve got to compete against them, keeping morals and ethics always in mind, he said.

Nobody wants to hear excuses, he said. Nobody wants to hear, “They’re keeping me down.”  “No, you’re keeping yourself down,” he said. “Saying that is an excuse to accept mediocrity. You’re looking for people to blame instead of looking in the mirror.”

Also, nobody wants to hear about your suffering, he said.  “With the budget deficit and with all the unemployment, we’re all suffering,” he said.  Consider yourself full-fledged Winston-Salem StateRams, he said.  “You are now officially trained, educated, armed and dangerous,” he said. “Go forth now and steamroll over the competition.”

In the November 2010 issue of Essence Magazine in a far reaching panel discussion titled “Race In America” Stephen A. Smith was on a panel that included the Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network), Soledad O’Brien (CNN), Ben Jealous (NAACP) Tricia Rose (Brown University), Sheryl Underwood (Comedian) and several other noted community advocates.

The discussion took a turn for the worst for Stephen A. Smith when the moderator, Bob Evans (Deputy Editor of Essence) asked the question to know one in particular “Does the heighten racism surprise you or disappoint you?

Ben Jealous: It was disappointing but not surprising.  Racism so infects our national discourse that we still think the majority of crack users in this country are Black.  White people are 65% of crack users.

Stephen A. Smith:  If I went on my radio show and said that, we’d have a problem.

Tricia Rose: Why?

Stephen A. Smith: I’m in 207 markets across the country and most of it is Middle America, which is a termn for white America.  They don’t want to hear that.

Tricia Rose: How do you know?

Stephen A. Smith: Because the White folks who make the decisions, who show you the numbers (he forgot to say, “And sign my check”), will point out that White America does not want to hear it.  It is like pulling teeth to get them to engage in a dialogue about race (I am going along to get along).

Stephen A. Smith: “You should have your own show on CNN”, he says to Soledad O’Brien!

Sheryl Underwood: Tell me why?

Stephen A. Smith: If you give her that platform, what is the likelihood of her addressing the very issues we are discussing?  She is not going to hesitate.

My Interpretation of Stephen A. Smith’s response; “I work for a white radio station that is heard in 207 markets in Klu Klux Klan territory and they don’t want to hear that shit!  I am getting paid Top Dollar and I am not about jeopardized my good J-O-B! 

“Soledad, you should have your own show on CNN in prime time because you are not afraid to discuss these types of issues.  I don’t have the balls to discuss racial issues on my show.”

 My question to Stephen A. Smith; How can you deliver the commencement address to grads telling them “If you want to be somebody, you have got to annihilate the competition” when you are running scare?  Something is wrong with this picture!   

This type of dialogue goes back to us owning our own media outlets and stop fronting for “The Man.”

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Who better than Harold Bell to put together classic interviews with his legendary celebrity friends.

5 Responses to “Winston Salem State Graduates Bamboozled: Stephen A. Smith Talking Out of Both Sides of His Mouth”

  1. This is an most ignorant interpretation of Stephen A Smiths comments. I was at the commencement and it was the best ‘real talk’ words I ever heard. Who is the person who wrote such a jealous article. That’s right. He’s a nobody. Stephen A. smith is a national figure with success that this writer could only dream of. What a stupid title and even worse supporting evidence in the blog. Please stop hating! You sound like a jealous, unintelligent fool!

  2. John, if you had read more carefully you would have noted that Mr. Bell is, apparently, well known in the “Sports Talk” world. Instead of name-calling why not tell us what, precisely, you found disagreeable? Personally I thought Bell’s evidence was reasonable and worth considering. On the one hand Mr. Smith is urging students to “man up” as it were. But on the other hand he is apparently too afraid of losing his job to speak out on racial issues. kzs

    • Thanks Kwame / I was not going to respond to John because it evident he read only what he wanted to read! He never checked the facts out for example; Smith’s run for cover interview in Essence Magazine.

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