Jason Whitlock decided to attack Lebron James rather than show sympathy for his family after they were victims of a hate crime. Lebron James’ home was defaced with a racial slur on Wednesday. While most celebrities, teammates, and human beings showed their remorse and support for Lebron, Jason Whitlock decided it was the perfect time to open his mouth.
Jason Whitlock addressed Lebron’s situation by saying that racism only happens to the poor, and that what Lebron experienced was just an “inconvenience.” He went on to say that he, too, had dealt with these “inconveniences,” but they did not stop him from being what he deems as successful.
Now Whitlock is not the first Black man to believe that somehow racism is reserved for poor people, and that if a Black person just becomes a part of the right tax bracket and social club then racism will disappear for them. That is a flat out lie, and that is a part of respectability politics.
Respectability politics says that if a Black person goes to an ivy league school, works in corporate America, pays their bills on time, are afraid of the police, and go to church then racism will not exist for them. The problem with this logic is that racism is a systematic construct targeted towards people because of their color, not their bank account. Racism does not only physically create barriers for people of color, but it also creates a constant state of mental terror. Racial slurs, images of the KKK, and being told that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization is the majority’s way of reminding Black people to stay in their place. Despite how much money a Black person makes, at the end of the day racism sees he or she as just another Negro.
But let’s use Whitlock’s logic for a minute. According to him, an influential African American does not experience racism that restricts them from anything. So, if I was Oprah I should be able to shop and do as I please. Right? Wrong!
In 2013 when Oprah was in Switzerland for Tina Turner’s Wedding, she decided to go shopping. She was in the city of Zurich where her show was not aired, which means few people knew that she is a billionaire. So when she walked into the store to ask to see an expensive handbag, the clerk did not see Oprah; she saw an everyday Black woman. In her mind, an everyday Black woman could not afford to buy expensive handbags. She told Oprah that the bag she wanted to see was too expensive for her to afford.
What about Richard Collins III? A young man about to graduate from college. He was an Army Lieutenant at Bowie State University. Certainly this smart young man had done enough to avoid racism. Collins was murdered at a bus stop by an aspiring white supremacist. The murderer did not care that Collins was smart and accomplished; he cared that he was Black.
Black America has constructed a lie out of the fear we feel, and we are mistakenly passing it on to the next generation. We tell ourselves that if we act right, if we go to school, if we wear the right cloths, socialize with the right people, live in good neighborhoods, and obey then White people will put the monster of racism back in its box. Unfortunately, White people unleashed that monster a long time ago and have no plans of restraining it.
Racism is a tumor that lives on the heart of America. In order to extract it, we must all realize the complete devastation it has done to people of color. Racism is fueled by the hatred of our skin color and spits on the accomplishments we make. There is no way to respectfully avoid racism, but there are several to fight, push back, and defy it.