Not generally being a fan of professional team sports, I was not familiar until recently with Jason Whitlock, who has become one of the most prominent black sports columnists in the United States. He writes for the Kansas City Star and AOL Sports. Considering the dearth of black people employed in professional journalism in this country this is quite an accomplishment, though Mr. Whitlock’s rise to prominence in the field of sports coverage, where his commentaries focus almost exclusively on black athletes, makes his “success” a little less surprising. It has long been common in the mainstream press for black voices that would otherwise be marginalized and ignored to be provided a prominent platform as long as they are saying what white people want to hear being said, especially about other black people.
Mr. Whitlock has built his career recently on his critiques of DBR behavior among black professional athletes, attacking Pro Basketball in particular for being too “gangsta,” “violent,” and “hip hop.” Mr. Whitlock was especially incensed by the this summer’s NBA All Star weekend in Las Vegas, which he compared to “the yard at a maximum security prison,” dominated by “the Black KKK,” that “Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods . . . has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members. Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and ‘50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don't bother us.” The recent murder of Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor has only increased the vociferousness of Mr. Whitlock’s attacks on this new “Black KKK.”
Considering his disdain for the vileness of DBR behavior and the violent degrading imagery common to so much of the music and culture that accompanies such behavior, I found Mr. Whitlock’s silence on the Dunbar Village incident absolutely deafening. It also surprised me to hear him defend Don Imus’ employment of that same degrading imagery and language to insult the Rutgers Women’s Basketball, stating simply that “A man who degrades himself wastes his time demanding respect from others.” I found this statement puzzling, since of course, the Rutgers Women are not men, and have done nothing to degrade themselves. Why then is it a “waste of their time” to demand respect? Mr. Whitlock insisted that “Imus isn’t the real bad guy,” and stated without an iota of proof that “I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy headed pimps and hos.”
Of course, this disconnect began to make sense when I learned that Mr. Whitlock had worked with, among other “gangsta rappers,” the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains, and helped produce a Kansas City Chiefs theme song that’s performed by the very types Mr. Whitlock claims are ruining the black community. It also fit in neatly with his references to himself as “Big Sexy,” a “playa” who’s enjoyed the well-publicized hospitality of Hugh Hefner and the Girls Next Door—apparently, a white woman selling her ass deserves Mr. Whitlock’s grinning approbation, while a black woman scholar-athlete deserves to be freely insulted and scorned by any and all comers, regardless of how she conducts herself.
Mr. Whitlock is a perfect illustration of why DBRBM and the “new Black KKK” are not only to be found in white Ts, riding spinners. All too often, he is the self-described “educated brotha,” who “fears them, keep his eyes lowered, shut his mouths and prays they don't bother us” when confronted by thugs—but has plenty of courageous disdain for black women. He can snicker at other black men who “Bojangle” for a living, while he indulges in the ultimate minstrelsy: demeaning black women, leaving BW and children vulnerable and unprotected before predators, while he sits like a big black puppet mumbling a script for ESPN. Mr. Whitlock has nothing but contempt for “babymamas” but like any good “playa” there appears to be no Mrs. Whitlock on the horizon. Unlike Bill Cosby or Oprah, who have made similar complaints similar to Mr. Whitlock’s, he can point to nothing that he has offered those of our young people who are smart, hard-working, and committed to bettering themselves. Indeed, when a group of such young women were publicly attacked, he supported their attacker. He can attack DBRBM as cardboard cutout stereotypes that embody white fears, but he can’t get to the heart of the damage they inflict on the black community, because that might require that he look at men like himself, and the yawning void they have left in community, which the DBR have happily filled. Physician, heal thyself.