Rachel Nichols and Enduring White Feminism in the Workplace

Ralinda Watts
4 min readJul 23, 2021
Two white women holding a feminism sign.
Photo credit: Tima Miroshnichenko

For Black women, we understand all too well that there is a Rachel Nichols that we have encountered in the workplace. Yes, the white woman that smiles in your face, proclaims to be an ally, and seems to emphatically support the need for anti-racism work, but behind closed doors has a secret agenda of her own, one that does not include your advancement.

In the latest saga of American racism, ESPN host Rachel Nichols, was caught on the mic for her words last summer, suggesting that her Black colleague, Maria Taylor, was assigned her post solely because she was Black.

When Nichols’ comments became public, she positioned herself as a victim, offering, “I was shaken that a fellow employee would do this, and that other employees, including some of those within the NBA. project, had no remorse about passing around a spy video of a female co-worker alone in her hotel room.”

The infantilization of white women ensued, where many came to Nichols’ defense. Those rallying to Nichols’ side, included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and three Black NBA players, most notably the co-hosts of The Jump Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins, who even spoke on-air thanking Nichols for “taking responsibility.” Jefferson and Perkins even spoke longer than Nichols’ less-than-thirty-second pseudo apology, that I thought it might have been the two of them that made the comments about Taylor.

Nichols was never held accountable or disciplined until her recorded phone conversation of disparaging remarks became public consumption. Such an allowance for the “benefit of the doubt” is something that Black women are never afforded.

In truth, Rachel Nichols’ actions are symptomatic of enduring white feminism, the type of feminism that seeks for personal validation and advancement at the expense of Black women. In the workplace, every Black woman has had to deal with our own version of Rachel Nichols.

Black women have been on the receiving end of white feminism, a feminism which weaponizes its tears when all Black women desire is respect, credit for our work, and a true voice and seat at the table. Personally, I vividly remember a time when a white colleague of mine, who always spoke up in meetings in support of DEI (diversity…

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Ralinda Watts

Author+Diversity Expert +Consultant+Creative +Podcaster at the intersection of Race, Identity, Culture, & Justice. Let’s be in conversation. #RalindaSpeaks