Deadspin's Greg Howard offers his thoughts on the career of Jason Whitlock, possibly America's most well-known Black sportswriter.
The more people I spoke with for this story, the more I became convinced that the problem with Black Grantland, the reason for its sluggish start, the reason it's talked about in some corners of ESPN as John Skipper's unaccountable folly, is the larger-than-life writer at the core of the project. I talked to a dozen writers and editors whom I'd heard were being recruited. Over and over they related the same story, of young talent having to decide between taking the opportunity and paycheck of a lifetime, and working for a man who made his bones disparaging people like them to an audience of approving racists.
That's the bitch of it for Whitlock. Only someone like him, a Black pundit with acceptably heterodox views on race who prescribes a sort of cultural austerity program for his own people, thus telegraphing his seriousness on the issue, would have gotten an opportunity like this. He rose to a position where he gets to speak for Black people largely by being the kind of commentator Black people would never want speaking for them.