Jason Whitlock’s take on LeBron James and racism is his stupidest one yet


Jason Whitlock has so thoroughly confused himself by constantly trying to come up with a contrarian view on race that he no longer has any idea what his own views on race might be. That’s really the only explanation for his latest take on LeBron James’ reaction to his house being vandalized with a racial slur.

From Whitlock’s point-of-view, James isn’t allowed to complain about racism in America because he’s rich and therefore does not truly struggle.

“I get when I was a young person people called me a bad name — the n-word, whatever —  it hurt my feelings. But did it stop me from rising? Hell no! Did it stop LeBron James? And LeBron’s comment about ‘no matter how rich you are, no matter how famous you are, it’s tough being black in America. That is a lie. It’s not tough being Oprah Winfrey. It’s not tough being LeBron James. It’s not tough being Jason Whitlock.”

I don’t know. Coming home to the n-word — We hide the full word, using “n-word” or “racial slur” instead, but that’s not what LeBron saw — painted on a house your children live in sounds like a rather tough day to me.

Rich blacks may not have been prevented from “rising” by the systematic racism that plagues minorities in this country, but to say they don’t have it hard — or at the very least, harder than their white peers — is flat-out ridiculous. Put it this way, Kevin Love doesn’t have to worry about his house being vandalized with racial slurs.

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This whole “If I made it, why can’t they?” notion,  a favorite of the casual racist and one Whitlock drops on us here, is equally foolish. The problem isn’t that poor blacks and other minorities have no escape from poverty; it’s that the deck is stacked tremendously against them, which is problematic for obvious reasons. LeBron had to turn himself into one of the 200 best basketball players in the world in order to pull himself out of poverty.

It reminds me of a great Chris Rock joke, which illustrates exactly why Whitlock’s “Did it stop me from rising?” argument falls short:

“In my neighborhood, there are four Black people. Hundreds of houses, four Black people. Who are these Black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only Black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down, let’s break it down: me, I’m a decent comedian. I’m alright. Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the White man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a fucking dentist! He ain’t the best dentist in the world…he ain’t going to the Dental Hall of Fame…he don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the Black man gotta fly to get to something the White man can walk to!”

Whitlock seems to think LeBron complaining about his “inconsequential” racism takes the spotlight off the systematic racism affecting the poor.

I ask Whitlock this: Why do we have to pick and choose which racism we worry about? Why can’t we worry about both? These are inter-related issues, driven by the same ignorant hate that has been present throughout the history of this very flawed country. The light we shine on the racism LeBron deals with will also reach the systematic racism that Whitlock says he’s most worried about.

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If even LeBron James, one of the richest and most respected athletes in the world, has to deal with some form of racism, imagine what 17-year-old in Chicago is dealing with on a day-to-day basis, someone might think after hearing LeBron’s story.  

That was ultimately LeBron’s goal when he spoke about the incident. James clearly did not want to turn the attention away from the upcoming NBA Finals and to his personal life, but said that if this “a shed of light to continue to keep the conversation going” he had to take that step. He was speaking on behalf of the entire African American population and not just from his own point-of-view. Maybe Whitlock should do the same.

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