I’d first like to say that in some ways I admire your career, not many folks tend to find a niche in journalism without ever completing college, your career has been one where you’ve shown you’ll try anything, if only once. However, when it comes to your articles subjects and content lately, it’s seems as if you’re playing fast and loose with the topic of race in America.
Now when I first started following you on Twitter, I was intrigued seeing how you viewed things, seeing as we grew up quite similarly. There were some things issues I didn’t agree with you at all and others that I could at least understand where you were coming from. That all changed the minute you wrote the “What if Mike Vick were white” article for ESPN the Magazine.
In your article, you got lazy; you shoehorned words like swag into the article, making the streetball reference for those who are reading the article who didn’t have a clue that Michael Vick was a black male. Then you do the most unforgivable sin possible, the crux of an already weak article, you decided to ask the question that what if Vick were white. It’s unforgiveable because you didn’t bother to research the demographics of Hampton, Virginia, which states that most likely, even if Mike Vick were white, it’s still a great chance Vick would’ve still been born to a one-parent household, still would have been in poverty and in essence absolutely nothing would have changed but his skin tone.
The sad part to all of this is that a simple Google search would have revealed all of this to you, but instead you decided to be Slim Charles from The Wire, fighting on that lie. I even remember the uproar behind that article, as you claimed that you had nothing to do with the Photoshop of a white Michael Vick as the cover art to your article, but if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, while the picture didn’t help, it was your lack of content and contextual evidence that sunk your article. After that article, I’d have hoped that you’d stop being lazy with the racial overtones in sports articles that you’d wrote or even more stopped writing sports articles altogether, however that hiatus was broken yesterday.
In your article, you asked a question no one was asking, “Will there be another Black America’s team?”. The irony to this article is that you just wrote a book last year claiming that black people aren’t a monolith, only to write this article lamenting that the monolith doesn’t have a team to collectively root for anymore. What’s even worse is that you managed to take down Michael Wilbon, a man who managed to address the subtleties and nuances of race in sports, with you.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re the biggest threat to black journalism in the 21st century, simply because you play fast and loose with “blackness” as if you’re an outsider (and with the way you describe “blackness” perhaps you are). Sometimes I wonder if you realize that the reason most mainstream publications probably hire you for freelance work is to provide the racial content that white writers wish they could write as to not appear racist. The editors could just deflect the sloppily used adjectives of race your way and say, “ Look, he’s black, he used them, blame him”. You’ve become a loaded gun in the hands of a child when it comes to discussing race in America when it comes to sports, and like the child with the loaded gun, you’ve done more harm to the innocent bystanders and more importantly yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what you choose to write about, I just hope you choose wisely next time, stick to writing the things you know or next time do the proper research.
A Concerned Black Man