Sports host fired for audio of racist remarks against Native Americans in 2016
Tyler Media fired Sam Mayes, a sports host with 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and coworker Cara Rice after a 2016 recording surfaced of the couple mocking Native Americans as being “too drunk” and poisoned by aerosols and paint.
The conversation took place during a radio commercial. The discussion involved host Mayes and Rice, a promotions manager at Tyler who also hosted radio shows in the company’s network.
They spoke of efforts by Native American activists to change the name of the Washington NFL team. From 1933 until July 2020, the team had a name considered offensive to Native Americans.
Mayes started the conversation by asking, “What’s the excuse for the natives that they didn’t fight to make this thing change forever?” “
“They were too drunk to organize,” Rice replied.
Mayes replied “Hashtag Lysol”. Rice then said, “The golden Hashtag spray paint comes out of the trash.” Both are believed to refer to “puffing,” the practice of inhaling aerosols to get drunk. Huffing is dangerous and easily accessible. It can kill brain cells and cause cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
“Hashtag, we’re all going to lose our jobs someday,” Mayes added. Rice replied, “Someday one of these microphones will stay on.”
Tyler Media fired Mayes and Rice after the audio leak. However, in a November 27 statement, Mayes said the recording was “obtained illegally”.
He said the audio was released as “a man’s malicious actions against myself and my family.” He also said the audio was “sent to local media with the intention of destroying my career.”
Mayes said Rice’s 2016 comment on Native American drunkenness “made me very uncomfortable.” However, he said he “took his comment lightly” by responding with his comment which referred to anger.
“For years I feared that to speak [against racism] would jeopardize my career because of the color of my skin, ”Mayes said in her statement. “I was too often complicit in participating in inappropriate conversations not only to avoid making waves in the workplace, but to fit in. This recording is the perfect example of this all too frequent scenario. “
“I’m heartbroken that before the decision to end my eight-year franchise was made, I didn’t have a chance to make amends, to explain my position in the conversation. or agree to participate to help facilitate training that would prevent this kind of hostile work environment from continuing in the future, ”he added.
Native American tribal nations, national tribal organizations, civil rights organizations, and individuals have noted the offensive nature of the former Washington NFL team name since the 1990s.