In August, Texas native of Nigerian descent Chinenye “Chiney” Ogwumike made history as the first Black woman to co-host her own daily, national radio show on ESPN.
Ogwumike teaming up with former football player Mike Golic Jr. for their show Chiney and Golic Jr. the programme sees the duo comment on sports and culture alongside
The 28 year old former power forward for the Los Angeles Sparks in a chat with Refinery29 reveals having had to overcome intimidating challenges she’s more focused on paving way for others like her: “I’ve been through a lot of adversity, whether it’s my existence as a Black woman, playing in the WNBA where they want to compare us to the NBA — and now as a female broadcaster,” Ogwumike says. “There were a lot of obstacles to overcome for me to get a seat at the table.”
Ogwumike, the second of four daughters has always been drawn to make a difference, she had always been “a part of any process that was making changes,” her mom, a special education teacher-turned-principal, who earned her PhD last December, remembers. “Most kids want to watch Barney, but Chiney was very much at peace with the news,” her dad, Peter Ogwumike Jr., a tech company CEO and a chief in the Nigerian village Ubomiri, adds. “CNN was her channel.”
Her dad who had a traditional upbringing didn’t let his background influence raising his kids and that played a major role in shaping her: “He never made us feel that we were girls and should have boundaries,” Ogwumike says. “He taught us to attack the world and make our own impact.” she recalls.
In 2015, Ogwumike experienced a painful microfracture in her right knee, which required surgery. After taking the opioids she’d been prescribed for a day or two, she began refusing the meds. “This is the part that might sound crazy, but you have to feel the pain to understand it.”
“Having to deal with the pain informed me,“ she tells Refinery29. When someone calls her a name on the street, or she’s booed on court, or she’s overlooked because of the color of her skin or because she’s a woman, “ I don’t just ignore it. I don’t just push it down,” Ogwumike says. “I have to acknowledge it so I can deal with it, and then find a system that will help me. Whether I build that system myself or I’ve got people to help me.”
On part of her greatest motivation, she says pressure she puts on herself; “the worst.” But, she says, “I’ve been having to deal with pressure every day of my life, just by nature of being a young Black woman, growing up in Cypress, Texas, and then pressure of performing.”
On being overlooked, Chiney says even when she appeared on ESPN alongside NBA legends such as Tracy McGrady and Paul Pierce, viewers would ask, “Who is she?” “They can’t even pronounce my name, not knowing that my credentials are just as good as anyones,” she says.
On sexism and racism against black women in sports she says:
“I know there have been women that have created that opportunity for me, but now it’s now on me to create the opportunity for other people,” Ogwumike tells Refinery29. “I have the platform and also have the urgency to amplify voices like mine.”