Taylor Rooks on being a Black woman in media and life in the NBA bubble

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 29: Taylor Rooks speaks onstage during the PUMA SS20 Women's Event on January 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for PUMA)
"As long as I have a platform, I’m always going to use it to uplift Black women," Rooks promised." Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for PUMA)

Only a select few reporters are allowed access into one of the most exclusive locations to resume sports in the midst of a global pandemic: the NBA bubble. Since the league’s July 30 restart, fans have been treated to a marathon of games and Taylor Rooks has been front and center with round-the-clock coverage.

Though that has encompassed most of her time, the Bleacher Report journalist is still focused on social justice initiatives and causes that empower Black women, including recently taking part in a week-long celebration of women with Champs Sports. Rooks spoke with Yahoo Sports about her advice to women pursuing a career in sports media and life inside the NBA bubble.

Yahoo Sports: Women in sports media are often minimized because critics associate skillset based on our gender. How do you respond to criticism you’ve faced and what would you tell women who are struggling to find their voice in any male-dominated industry?

Taylor Rooks: I do see being Black and a woman as an obstacle, but those attributes are also my strength and power. My accomplishments have nothing to do with my femininity and I constantly remind myself that these comments are from people who do not know how hard I’ve worked to reach this far in my career.

As long as you believe in what you’re communicating or actions you’re taking to spread a message, you’ll alway find success. You can’t control people’s opinions. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about those who haven’t experienced the same trials and tribulations. Part of personal growth are the hard lessons learned from unfortunate circumstances and how you can further improve over time.

YS: You’ve never faltered from your views on systemic racism. How significant was it to find your purpose early on and what mantra or mentality do you constantly repeat as a source of comfort?

TR: As individuals we all have a responsibility and mine has been to women and Black people. No matter what, have to make sure we elevate them as much as possible. This is why I was so eager to participate in Women Win Week (with Champs last month). There are so many ladies who have dedicated their professions to mental health, fitness, technology and leadership. These are all critical to the landscape of how women are represented today.

We must continue to listen and elevate Black women, because way too often are they overlooked and underrepresented. Black women have been the heartbeat in so many ways, we do a phenomenal job of lifting each other up and often are the first ones risking it all to combat discrimination and prejudice. As long as I have a platform, I’m always going to use it to uplift Black women because that outweighs anything else.

Yahoo Sports: As one of the very few in the NBA bubble, what’s your point of view on the structure and efficiency of things?

Being inside the bubble has been such an unforgettable experience. When not practicing, I’m noticing players fishing and riding bikes. There’s so much camaraderie and support, it’s really beautiful to see. From the Los Angeles Lakers honoring Kobe Bryant during practice to the subtle pranks being pulled, it’s nice to see the players interact off the court and show a more playful side.

I also think they’re enjoying this more than they thought. Of course it’s difficult being away from family, but the league has done a great job of making the experience a memorable one for everyone involved. Going from practice to interviews to games can be pretty time-consuming, but it’s important for to step aside and work on my solo projects and that includes participating in Women Win Week and speak out about initiatives I value in my life.

(Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
(Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Pass Her the Mic is a series by Yahoo Sports that profiles Black women at the intersection of sports and race, discussing various topics ranging from racial injustice to athlete activism.

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