But the sad truth is that in recent months you’ve changed. You’ve been acting like the love child of Clarence Thomas and Haystacks Calhoun. It’s time for an intervention. It’s actually long overdue.
I didn’t speak out when you called the great Scoop Jackson a “bojangling fake ghetto posturing clown.” I didn’t say anything when you wrote that there needed to be a “new civil rights movement” directed at “black idiots.” I didn’t type a word as week after week you provided African American cover for white sportswriters to rip Pro Basketball for being too “gangsta,” too “violent,” and too “hip hop” with all the subtlety of Strom Thurmond. Shame on me.
But your recent work on the NBA’s All Star weekend in Vegas is just beyond the pale. When you have the unholy arrogance to compare your crusade against “ghetto acting” black people to the actions of Rosa Parks, when you call young African American kids “the Black KKK”, and when you liken walking the Vegas strip to being in “the yard at a maximum security prison”, it’s simply time to say, “enough.”
In your own words, “Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK 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.”
Please, please, please take a moment to listen to yourself. The Klan at its peak had 4.5 million members. They organized campaigns of lynching and terror to keep people of color from voting, holding jobs, or even existing in peace. To compare an NBA player’s entourage with this bloody nightmare makes you sound scared, small, and simple.
But we’re all aware you are anything but simple. You know there are far more fights in hockey and football than basketball with nowhere near the hysteria. You know there are more brawls at NASCAR events than at Madison Square Garden. You must realize that there is zero proof the friends and family of NBA players are any more violent than anyone else. But you bleat redundantly for “a new civil rights movement” to drive them out.
You actually write, “This must be the way Rosa Parks felt on that bus. She was just tired of eating white racist (spit). I’m tired of eating black racist (spit).”
Wow. You, Jason Whitlock. The new Rosa Parks. I suppose it is Black History Month, the one time we hear a great deal about Ms. Parks and her contribution to building a better world. I don’t quite recall her droning on about strip clubs and lap dances the way you do (maybe I just missed it). I don’t remember her reveling in the excess that seems to define your personal life. I’m not positive but I don’t think she ever referred to herself as “Big Sexy”. I do know she cared more about fighting for the less fortunate than cozying up to power. Maybe she was just “bojangling.”
Jason: it’s time for you and your sports writing brethren, all hot and bothered over All Star Weekend, to take a long overdue reality check. You rail against the violence of NBA “posses” yet turn your back to the fact that this is one of the most violent nations on earth. This is a country that imprisons 2 million of its citizens. This is a nation that spends 1.7 billion dollars a day on the military. This is the country that started an unnecessary war in Iraq that’s killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 3,000 troops. Surely a fan of Rosa Parks like yourself is familiar with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”
As you heroically churn out columns in between trips to the local gentleman’s club, a very real world beats with injustice. Black unemployment is three times that of whites. Unemployment today for young Black men aged sixteen to nineteen tops out at more than 30 percent, double that of young whites. And the latest Bush budget will mean all of this will get worse.
By devoting your column to the amplification of the worst racial stereotypes, you actually divert attention from the real issues Black America faces. In this post-Katrina world, it should be all too clear that the problem is institutionalized racism and poverty, not a kid in baggy jeans.
And I’m sorry, Jason but one last comment on comparing yourself to Rosa Parks. Rosa stood up to the Klan, the Southern Police, and three centuries of violence and hate. Rosa risked her life. You are making bank by “bojangling” for bigots.
There is certainly a new civil rights movement to be built. But it won’t be based on the sanctimonious spew you’re selling. Instead, it will need to involve the very people you shower with scorn.
Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming book: “Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports” (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by e-mailing [email protected].
Contact him at [email protected].
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon