Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's time to mute Jason Whitlock's comments about racism

I need an automatic mute button to silence Jason Whitlock

Whitlock, a talking head for Fox Sports, has found a niche in offering a perspective that nurtures post-racism rhetoric.

In July 2016, Whitlock attacked members of Black Lives Matter.

“As an African-American, again, I’ve had problems with the police, and my family lost someone we loved dearly to excessive police force. But, the conversation about police brutality is a lie and dishonest,” Whitlock said, “ You’re more likely as African-Americans to be damn near struck by lightning than to be killed by the police, and no one can have that conversation. And we’re killing ourselves in our own communities, and no one can have that conversation.”

Shaun King, columnist for the New York Daily News, was confronted by Whitlock for an expose on the handling of a sexual harassment allegation against Peyton Manning when he was a student at the University of Tennessee.

“First of all, he’s white and presenting himself as black. He said that as a child in high school he was allegedly attacked by a group of white people because he was black,” Whitlock said about King. “Well, he wasn’t black and there were people saying that wasn’t why he was attacked and there’s no proof of it.”

King responded on Twitter with accusing Whitlock of “cooning” for money and calling him a “Tom ass bastard.”

Truth is, @WhitlockJason has mainly kept a job because he’s the guy white folk use to throw Black leaders under the bus. Steppin fetchin.

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 17, 2016

@WhitlockJason the most relevant you’ve been in YEARS is when you are selling me or @deray or Beyonce out this week. Tom ass bastard.

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 17, 2016

White media has ALWAYS made room for a tom or two who will go on TV or radio and call Black leaders racists. Now they call us “race-baiters”

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 17, 2016

King made an extra hole for Whitlock’s digestive system.

Last month, Charlamagne  tha God, co-host of the nationally-syndicated radio show "The Breakfast Club", named Whitlock “donkey of the day” for defending Kristine Leahay when she attacked LaVar Ball.
Jason Whitlock name "Donkey of the Week"
So, this is old news.
Whitlock is “that guy”. He’s the black guy sanctioned to say what white people want to hear. He’s the black kid embraced for “not being like other black people”. He called Colin Kaepernick “Martin Lither King conrow” and said LeBron James won the genetic lottery.

He’s the black guy that black folks refuse to call black.

Recently, Whitlock came after LeBron again during an appearance on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd . He was there to discuss comments James made regarding a person spray-paining “Nigger” on the gates of his Los Angeles home.

“I think it is a disrespectful inconvenience for LeBron James," Whitlock said. "He allegedly had the n-word spray-painted on his $20 million Brentwood home. He wasn't there. His family wasn't there. He heard about it."

"Racism is an issue in America but is primarily an issue for the poor. It's not LeBron James' issue," Whitlock said. "He has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrespectful interaction with someone, a disrespectful inconvenience."

There’s more.

"LeBron needs to quit embracing his victimhood because he's not a victim and it's a terrible message for black people," Whitlock said.

“I used to be a black kid and [people would say racist slurs to me]. It wasn’t that big of a deal. If someone denies you an opportunity — you can’t go to school here, you can’t have this, you can’t have that — that is the impact of racism. LeBron was inconvenienced. Racism affects the poor. For him to sit there and say, ‘No matter where you are, it’s tough being black in America’? It ain’t tough being LeBron James. It ain’t tough being Oprah Winfrey.”

Whitlock argues racism can’t be experienced if you’re wealthy; therefore, people like James should avoid all conversations involving race.

Whitlock is evoking language that demands silence among those with economic privilege.  In his opinion, the only people qualified to speak about racism are people wounded by economic restriction. Black people of privilege have achieved at a level that helps them transcend the burden of racism.

This is the type of code language used by conservative white people to dismiss assumptions of privilege and race. If racism is merely a construction of economic disparity, then overcoming the implications of racism becomes the responsibility of the poor. Those who continue to be maligned by racism are suffering due to an inability to pull themselves up from those bootstraps, while black people like LeBron need to avoid language that foster victimhood.

If one of the benefits of success is the avoidance of racism, we live in a society with the assumption that some people matter more than others. Whitlock argues on behalf of social arrangements that reflect an expanding value gap among black people.

Rich black people don’t suffer from racism. Some black people are worth more than others to the extent that they overcome the burden of racism. James suffers the inconvenience of paying someone to remove “nigger” from the gate, but it’s not racism. It’s only racism when it involves a person who is poor.

Whitlock’s views avoid a long history in which black people are denied access due to racism. There are numerous lessons regarding black people of middle and upper class status who were denied access due to their race.

It happened in 2013 when Oprah was denied entry into Hermes, a Swiss luxury goods store in Paris. It happened in 1999 when Danny Glover filed a formal complaint against the Taxi and Limousine Commission for discriminating against African-American passengers like him, who were routinely bypassed by cab drivers.

Rose, the mother of Chris Rock accused a Cracker Barrel restaurant in South Carolina of discriminating against her in 2006. She alleges the staff went out of its way to delay service.  Henry “Skip” Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, was stopped for walking into his own house.

When Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general, and President Barack Obama discussed being racially profiled, they conceded the emotions related to being inconvenienced. Whitlock is correct in highlighting the aggravation related to paying someone to wash that word from the gate. It’s true that LeBron has the money to get the job done. It’s one of the privileges associated with making all that cash.

Being rich is no protection from the emotions stirred by racist acts. It’s troubling to negate the impact of racist acts based on what is perceived as no more than an inconvenience for those with the money to make it go away.

Whitlock is that dude.

He doesn’t get it.

I recommend he read Ellis Cose’s book “The Rage of the Privileged Class.” There are numerous stories about black people with loads of money who are mad.
Pressing that mute button


  1. "He’s the black guy sanctioned to say what white people want to hear." - Exactly what is it that "white people" want to hear? And is it all white people, some of them, a tortured racist few?

    So, Whitlock is not "black enough" because he doesn't always toe the victim party line?

    Do you at least understand the mixed messages you're sending?

    1. Great points that deserve my response. Keep in mind that's something I rarely do. In this case, there's enough quality in your response to merit a counter statement.

      You're right in asserting the absence of a black monolithic community. AS much as that is true, this post was written with that very thing in mind. My point? The absence of a universal black think agenda in no way suggest a repudiation of the need for such a statement. Why is that? There is both historical and contemporary credence that supports a unified approach in the way black people communicate messages involving racism. Anything other than that shifts both the political and cultural nuances related to being black in America. Critical in all of that is finding ways to offer space for varied voices while conceding universal truths that elevated a collective vision.

      Those statements should be measured in research that ponders history and the evidence of critical race theory. Thus, although Whitlock has the right to tote his message on Fox, it is as important that black people call him to task in advocating an approach that isn't embraced by the collective voices of black people. Why is that important? Because race and racism is something we overcome together. None of us experience it in a vacuum, and people like Whitlock need to be called to task for presenting a message that fails to reflect the experiences of the masses of black people who continue to endure racism.

      Again, the damage of racism is never held as an individual's issue. It belongs to the entire community of subjugated people; thus, the message of Whitlock impacts all of us. Overcoming it all can never be sacrificed by allowing a person like Whitlock to speak on behalf of the rest. He has that right, and the village has the right to call him on that message.