Bryant Gumbel Gives Powerful Commentary on the 'Black Tax,' the 'Added Burden' of Being Black

"It's paid daily by me and every person of color in this country, and frankly, it's exhausting," said the Real Sports host

Bryant Gumbel is opening up about his experience as a Black man in America.

On Tuesday's special edition of HBO's Real Sports, which examined how systemic racial injustice and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have affected sports, the host, 71, closed out the segment explaining the plight of Black people through the term "Black tax."

"It's not an IRS thing. It's the added burden that comes with being Black in America," Gumbel said. "And it's routinely paid no matter how much education you have, how much money you make, or how much success you've earned."

The sportscaster went on to share that "Black tax" is "more than just the added stares, whispers and suspicions when you're out and about... it's about the many instances of disrespect and incivility your color seems to engender, and being expected to somehow always restrain yourself, lest you not be what white Americans are never asked to be, a credit your race."

Gumbel noted that the experience includes not being afforded the same privileges as other races, as well as not being treated the same in the eyes of the law.

"It's about living a life that included your father having to leave home to earn his law degree, even though he was an honor student and a decorated war veteran," he continued. "It's about your son getting arrested for doing nothing more than walking while Black. And it's about having to be more concerned than your white friends and associates for the safety of your grandkids."

Bryant Gumbel
Bryant Gumbel. Marc Bryan-Brown/Getty

"It's about the day in and day out fatigue of trying to explain the obvious to the clueless. It's about being asked to overlook blue failings and white failings so they can be conveniently viewed as Black issues," Gumbel continued. "It's about being asked by so many what they should do or say about race when the easy answer lies in the privacy of each person's heart. It's the 'Black tax' … it's paid daily by me and every person of color in this country, and frankly, it's exhausting."

Gumbel concluded his powerful commentary by acknowledging that he has been paying the "Black tax" for almost 72 years.

"Long enough that I shouldn't have to ask others to simply accept one very basic reality...that our Black lives matter," he said.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gumbel was previously a co-host of NBC's Today from 1982 to 1997. He has hosted Real Sports since 1995.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero ( which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement ( provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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