On Sunday, October 11, at 5 p.m. ET, ESPN will televise The Stop: Living, Driving, and Dying While Black, the 10th special presented by The Undefeated – the company’s multimedia platform exploring the intersections of sports, race, and culture.
The Stop’s lead producer Amina Hussein, a 17-year ESPN production veteran and senior coordinating producer for NBA studio programming, views the program as a vehicle to enhance the ongoing national discourse around social injustice.
Outside the Lines, E60 and ABC News host Ryan Smith, who will anchor the one-hour show, agrees. Hussein and Smith shared their thoughts about The Stop with Front Row.
Have you ever experienced the stop? Can you describe the experience of being stopped under circumstances you felt inexplicably suspicious?
Smith: I once got stopped in Colorado and instead of telling me what I did wrong, the officer peppered me with questions. ‘What are you doing here? How long have you been here? Where are you going?’ As someone who has been stopped countless times, I knew what to say ‘I’m a journalist covering a story. I’m actually interviewing police officers.’ It was true. The officer’s face changed immediately and I was let go.
What’s your response to people who might ask, “What has it got to do with sports?”
Hussein: Sports are an invaluable platform from which civil rights and social justice conversations can be had and heard. Those conversations are essential to improve the country in ways which are hundreds of years overdue for change. Sports have historically given a voice to the voiceless.
You have multiple roles, including NBA studio coverage. How did you balance those responsibilities with your role on The Stop?
Hussein: Both of these projects overlap in terms of highlighting injustices in our country. When the news hit that the cops who killed Breonna Taylor were not charged, it changed how we approached NBA Countdown, WNBA Hoop Streams, and our rundown for The Stop. The disappointment, sadness and anger were omnipresent as we had to update the rundown to reflect the news.
What stands out to you as the most profound part of working on The Stop in these times?
Smith: Everyone we spoke to isn’t focused on anger, but on change. Believe me, that’s hard to do. Each time I see someone in my community shot or killed, I am angry and furious. I can’t imagine having to experience tragedy like Jacob Blake Sr. or Letetra Widman, and be an activist advocating for change. It’s remarkable and shows you how strong they are and, if we work collectively, how strong our community can be.
Hussein: In all my years in this business, I have never worked with so many Black women on one project – Chantre Camack (director, Talent Production), Sarah Kazadi (associate producer), Sharon Matthews (executive producer) and Talaya Wilkins (feature producer). It has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling. Also, with America facing crises on multiple fronts, specifically the heightened consciousness of social injustices, it offers us a chance to step up and meet the moment with meaningful thought and conversations.
Mac Nwulu and Kiana Lowe contributed to this post.