Jason Whitlock is stirring up Twitter today by dismissing the racial graffiti incident at the LeBron James Los Angeles mansion as a mere “disrespectful inconvenience” and insisting that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is no victim.
With Colin Cowherd, another ESPN expatriate, Jason Whitlock is the old-timey-fedora-wearing co-host of Speak For Yourself, an offering on the ratings-challenged Fox Sports 1 (FS1) TV channel airing weekdays at 5 p.m. Eastern time, which appears to be Fox network’s answer to ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.
Whitlock went on Cowherd’s Fox Sports radio show, simulcast on FS1, to discuss the LeBron James press conference about the incident.
With controversial opinions all over the map, Jason Whitlock in the past has been alternatively accused by his detractors — many of whom make their feelings known on Twitter as they are today — of playing the race card, as well as being a sellout and an Uncle Tom. “Over the years, Whitlock has taken several unpredictable and often unpopular positions, especially when racial issues intersect with sports,” the New York Times detailed in September 2010.
As alluded to above, after two tours of duty with ESPN, the contrarian Whitlock — the former Kansas City Star and Huffington Post columnist, and Ball State University football player — rejoined Fox Sports.
Whitlock left the Bristol, Connecticut-based ESPN for the second time in the fall of 2015, several months after losing his gig as editor-in-chief of the long-form sports journalism site The Undefeated, which has been described as the “black Grantland.” The Undefeated finally launched officially on May 17, 2016, although the sports network shut down Grantland in late October 2015, five months after the departure of high-profile editor Bill Simmons, whose HBO show was canceled in early November 2016.
In his dialogue with Cowherd about the racist graffiti, Whitlock strongly disagreed with James that it is difficult being black in America, calling that a lie at James’ income level.
“[LeBron James] has fallen into the far left trap of there’s value in embracing your victimhood…his comments analogizing any part to Emmett Till is preposterous…he wasn’t there, his family wasn’t there, he heard about it…racism is an issue in America, but primarily an issue for the poor; it’s not a LeBron James issue. LeBron James whether he likes it or not…he has removed himself from the damages and ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrespectful interaction with someone…LeBron’s $20 million Brentwood home gets vandalized, and I see two or three police cars trying to get to the bottom of it. LeBron’s staff, I’m sure, cleaned up the spray paint within hours. This ain’t Emmett Till…LeBron needs to quit embracing his victimhood because he’s not a victim, and it’s a terrible message for black people…”
Emmett Till was an African-America teenager in Mississippi who was murdered in 1955 by two men who were subsequently acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury. The Till murder, along with its aftermath, is viewed as a catalyst of the civil rights movement.
Whitlock continued that racism, as it exists today, is an economic issue, regardless of color.
“The real impact of racism is on the poor,…when they graffiti your name in Compton or one of these poor communities in Los Angeles, it’s a death threat…but when your family is in Cleveland, and you live in a $20 million estate, unless O.J. got paroled this week, there ain’t a whole lot going down in Brentwood…the worst thing to be in America, and anywhere on the planet, is poor…LeBron has risen above poverty to that special elevated place we have in society where pretty much nothing can bother him…”
Jason Whitlock has also been a vocal critic of ESPN forcing social justice issues into its sports coverage.
LeBron James begins his quest tonight for back-to-back world championships in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Do you agree or disagree with Jason Whitlock that rich celebrities like LeBron James can insulate themselves against racism?
[Featured Image by John Amis/AP Images]