Monday, October 09, 2006

Crabs In a Barrel Mentality: Black Identity Part 3

Jason Whitlock is an idiot and a bad writer. Many sports writers consider his work in the Kansas City Star to be poorly written, poorly edited, and add very little to the Kansas City sports culture. However, his remarks concerning sports writer Scoop Jackson went overboard, and his understanding of critical writing is more like what educated people would consider over derogatory and highly personal. Here are my thoughts on some of Whitlock’s comments:

  • “…there’s a big drop-off from being associated with Ralph (Wiley), Hunter and Bill than being linked to someone doing a bad Nat X impersonation.

There is a huge difference between writing on the same internet forum as the late, great Ralph Wiley and being associated with the man and his writings. Jason Whitlock ought to be smacked for comparing himself to Mr. Wiley; not because he seems to have an extraordinary way of upsetting folks, but because it is obvious that he needs to come to his senses, and he does not have the ability to do so alone (ok, I honestly want to smack him because he pisses me off, but I can separate my personal feelings from honest critiquing. This leads me to my next thought).

Whitlock’s comparison of Scoop Jackson to “a bad Nat X impersonation” is obviously personal, and has no place in any type of news publication. Some may say that sport should not be identified as an important enough arena to require objective reporting and writing. There are many places I could point to in order to show the importance sport plays in our American culture, but I will simply pose these questions:

If sport is not important to our culture, then why do we praise people like Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens? Also, if it is true that sport is not important, what was Ralph Wiley fighting so hard to accomplish? (For those of our readers who do not know who Ralph Wiley was, I would suggest that you learn about this man. In my opinion, he was one of our most underappreciated black leaders, period).

  • "Scoop is a clown. And the publishing of his fake ghetto posturing is an insult to black intelligence, and it interferes with intelligent discussion of important racial issues. Scoop showed up on the scene and all of a sudden I’m getting e-mails from readers connecting what I write to Scoop. And his stuff is being presented like grown folks should take it seriously. Please. I guess I’ll go Bill Cosby on you, but it’s about time we as black people quit letting Flavor Flav and the rest of these clowns bojangle for dollars."

Again, Whitlock shows his inability to express his point of view without using immature insults to carry his opinion (I also sense at least a hint of jealously in Whitlock’s comments). And his comparison of Scoop Jackson to Flavor Flav does nothing but show his own ignorance of relevant cultural issues. Either he does not understand the complete joke that Flavor Flav has become in the black community, or he does not read Scoop’s writings, opting instead to just skim through them. Whatever the case may be, ignorance such as that causes me to feel pity for Mr. Whitlock. Educated people should do their research before making such claims, and it is clear that he did not.

As a former athlete who has had to deal with his fair share of screaming coaches (veins popping and all), my father imparted this bit of wisdom on me: “listen through the screams and insults, and try to find the message your coach is attempting to get across.” In attempting to unearth Mr. Whitlock’s message, I find myself uncovering issues that predate Whitlock, Jackson, and Wiley. As with the Booker T./ Dubois and Martin/ Malcolm debates (I’ll throw in the T.O./ McNabb debate for a taste of modernity), I see the issues surrounding black identity rearing their preverbal ugly heads yet again.

Jason Whitlock does not respect Scoop Jackson as either a writer or as a black leader. I do not know what type of leader Scoop would become, if he becomes one. I do know that Scoop Jackson writes through the voice of the educated Hip Hoppers, which allows those who do not fall within that cultural category to see who we are in print.

I like that. I now have the option to show people written work form one of our own that has to be respected because it is good, objective writing.

I do not know what Jason Whitlock’s problem is (whatever it is, it certainly is larger than his considerable frame). When I first read his interview, I wanted to write something more scathing than what he wrote about Scoop. After thinking about his comments and the context with which he said them, insulting him would be of little value. Outside of his inability to write objectively, Whitlock illustrated in very real terms the weakness of the collective black body: while we continue to show substantial intellectual and physical capabilities individually, we continue to prove that we do not have said capabilities as a group.

Scoop’s response to Whitlock further shows that he’s not only a better writer, but a better person. Still, this negative episode pulled both men down. When will we learn?


Brother Lightness said...

I'm curious as to the reasoning of your dislike of Whitlock. What, in particular, has he written that has rubbed you the wrong way?

Brother Spotless said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brother Spotless said...

Off the top of my head:

He was on Pardon the Interruption (an ESPN sports talk show)during the Duke Lacrosse scandal. In response to the alleged "nigger" comments the players said during the alleged rape, his reply was that it didn't matter what they said, race had nothing to do with the incident.

On the same show, he said that there was some truth to Rush Limbaugh's comment that Donovan McNabb was merely a construction of the liberal media.

He makes idiotic statements that are grounded in absolute nothing and make no sense at all. This is a direct quote from his ESPN column:

"The knock I have on Griese is really the same knock I have on Chris Simms and the Mannings. The best football players don't grow up with silver spoons in their mouths.

Football is totally different from baseball. Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. are the two best players -- OK, maybe Rickey Henderson was better -- of the past 30 years because their fathers were great players.

It doesn't work that way in football. Playing quarterback is the hardest thing to do in sports. It requires a mental and physical toughness that most rich kids simply cannot develop.

I'm not calling Griese, Simms or the Mannings wimps. They are not. But there are levels of toughness, and they'll never be as tough as southern good-ol' boys such as Favre and McNair. You have to miss a meal or two or wear your cousin's old clothes to be as mentally tough as Favre and McNair." (As if Joe Montana, John Elway, and Dan Marino had it tough growing up)

He considers himself an NFL guru simply because he played college football at Ball State University. I point to this because not only does he not have any NFL experience (that is not a prerequisite to covering the nfl as a reporter or as a writer), but his knowledge of the game and is severely lacking.

For whatever reason, ESPN had been pushing him as a legit sports mind. And whenever he was on the Sports Reporters or Pardon the Interruption, his arguments were almost always based on his "gut feeling," which usually turns out to be wrong anyway (and arguments based on feeling instead of evidence is my pet peeve).

In short, when I think of Jason Whitlock, I think of Bill Walton without the big league experience...

On top of all of that, he dissed my favorite sports writer...that ish cannot be tolorated by the Spotless One.

Michael Tillery said...

Happened across your blog surfing. Props. The above link is Scoop's response to Whitlock. Below is an interview I conducted with Whitlock.

I tried my best to help squash what is detrimental to all of us.

Check 'em out and give me a shout.

Michael Tillery said...



Sorry for the last post.

Like I said earlier, nice blog. Ont that I'm sure I'll frequent.