Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts has been in the news in more ways than one recently. After a summer of high’s — knocking long-running morning show competitor “Today” out of the number one spot for the first time in history — the co-Host to America’s newly crowned morning program is also dealing with a crippling low pertaining to her health. The 51 year-old die hard sports fan, revealed to her audience that she’s in the fight of her life, once again, as she deals with MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia. The red carpet host also battled breast cancer back in 2008.
Choosing to face the health scare head on, and share her experience with her largely middle-American audience, Roberts chose to take a small vacation mid-summer to relax and focus on her health issue(s). And, though she’s currently re-joined co-host, and political guru George Stephanopoulos, her entire team is preparing for her medical leave at the end of August as prepares for a bone marrow transplant. Among the shocking health scare, the former ESPN sportscaster chose to delve into the widely unknown topic of bone marrow transplants, and the severely low bone marrow donor registry this country faces for those in need. But I can’t help but wonder if the sometimes stoic anchor is aware that her encouragement to get fans signed up to donate has reopened wounds within the gay community.
According to the African-American Community Health Advisory Committee, ethnic minorities are severely underrepresented. Only about 200,000 potential donors — about 6 percent — are African- Americans. According to the Judie Davis Marrow Donor Recruitment Program in Oakland, California this means African-Americans receive transplants from the National Marrow Registry only 3.3 percent of the time, compared to a rate of 85 to 88 percent for Caucasians. Though a bleak number indeed, many have applauded Roberts efforts in bringing attention to such a dire statistic.
On the surface, Roberts appears to have mastered the art of projecting a professional and transparent brand for the masses. But upon further review there seems to be a slight contradiction in her plight. It should come as no shock to anyone that Robin’s sexual preference has been apart of the rumor mill for years. And while it’s none of anyone’s business on the personal life of one of TV’s most noticeable faces, in today’s media obsessed culture it’s not at all a reality. And, some have even made interesting arguments over her noticeable omission on the topic all together, particularly as it relates to bone marrow registries and their boycott of gay men donating to the cause.
In a recent blog posted on Gyantunplugged.com, current FDA rules dictate that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, cannot donate blood. As an African-American, and with our demographic having the lowest donors respectively, this issue is particularly interesting. Yet this issue has not been raised, or mentioned in the slightest by Roberts. The omission of such a controversial ban, still in place decades after this countries initial fear and ignorance of HIV/AIDS appears to be a topic of non-importance as most mainstream media outlets almost never cover it. So, it seems since the conservative, and well-known newscaster has encouraged so many of her viewers to become donors this issue could, or should, have been raised.
Being an African-American women, and presumably lesbian force in television, who’s not only reached the glass ceiling, but shattered it, many can’t help but feel a sense of abandonment reminiscent of her historic sit down with President Obama announcing his support for gay marriage and equal rights for gay and lesbians. In that interview, America watched as Robin sat stone faced. And critics pointed out the dubious decision by the Obama Administration to select Roberts, who appears to have the kung-fu grip on the proverbial closet, where she seems readily to remain, all together. Some liken the sit-down interview to the metaphoric elephant in the room.
According to Gawker.com, Roberts was extremely worried about her sit-down with President Obama in fear the correlation between her and the discussion of same-sex marriages would be too obvious, and that she could be outed to her middle-America, ultra conservative audience. Choosing instead be silent, and remain silent, on the hot button issue. The parallels between the bright and brilliant broadcaster projecting a transparent and open dialogue with her audience, for me, seems to be a bit superficial and selective. To bring up the issue of bone marrow donors, and then ignore the follow-up to the much wider issue, I find to be offensive beyond measure in the name of broadcast journalism. And it’s too bad that after being on this planet for half a century, Roberts lacks the balls to delve deeper into dialogue on matters that also affect her rumored minority group. The other Americans who also watch GMA.
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