Though it was little more than 4 months ago The Starting Five’s dwill told the Edge of Sports’ Dave Zirin (above) to “get your hand out of my pocket,” the former, along with colleague Mizzo, have a longish discussion with the author of “What’s My Name, Fool?” at TSF.
Mizzo: The name of your website, Edge of Sports, seems to say as much about you as it does the subject matter you approach. A two-fold question: Would you write only for a mainstream publication or mainstream sports media outlet and how are you perceived by your white peers?
DZ: That is “ the second question is very interesting. On the first one, yeah I would write for anybody as long as the politics stayed true. I mean, one thing about writing for the LA Times they™re big on trying to chop things up 50 different ways and I have no problem with that as long as the politics isn™t changed. If they have objections to certain off-color metaphors I like to throw in there or flowery language that they think is not just what they want or is their cup of tea, I can totally live with that. Like I tell my editors, I™m very coachable in that regard. But the political content to me is what™s sacrosanct in all of this.
Now, as far as white sports writers¦. This is very interesting because I™ve gotten just amazing support from some of the older heads “ white sports writers. People like Robert Lipsyte being a prime example of that. There™s another guy who is more my peer named Michael O™Keefe who writes for the New York Daily News. These are cats who have political sympathies similar to my own. And Lipsyte, who made his bones writing about Muhammad Ali is somebody who want to see the kind of work he was doing in the 60s not fall by the wayside.
That™s what he™s seen that so upsetting to him is the commodification of sports writing, And so the political in-depth pieces he was championing in the 1960s have become very marginalized in favor of the quick hit highlights or the political Neanderthal approach. You know, the, ˜who is this Floyd Mayweather to talk as if that™s something. And people say, ˜yeah, who is he to talk,™ and just the whole, ˜shut up and play™ approach.
So, from those folks I get a lot of good. But from other folks “ I™ll choose not to name names here, although one guy I wrote about three™s no point in me not naming “ Tom Knott, the lead columnist for the Washington Times. What™s interesting there is that they can write very reactionary stuff “ Whitlock has done this, Knott has done this “ that™s highly critical of me, myself, whatever, and what™s interesting though is when I contact them off the record their approach is different when they™re not in the media glare. Their approach is like, ˜look, I™m a ho™, you™re a ho™, we just work different sides of the street so let™s drop the hostility, we™re just dong our thing.
And my response to that is, not actually, this shit is really real to me! If you want to play, we™re just doin™ this dog-and-pony show for the masses like ooooh a debate or something, you can just take that shit to the cleaners because I believe that sports has repercussions on society; this is not a joke to me. They can take that whole approach and tell someone who cares.
DWil: Michael and I have wondered whether or not that™s œMr. Chitlins “ the TSF nickname for Whitlock “ real approach or not.
DZ: I actually do think Whitlock feels very sincere about what he is saying right now. That doesn™t make it good and that doesn™t make it right, but what I feel like he™s doing is so harmful to himself as much as anybody else is that his approach is, ˜I™m gonna say the most outrageous thing possible. I™m not going to try to have discourse, I™m not going to try to force a debate where it™s worth intelligent discussion.™
I™m sorry, but calling Vivian Stringer a œgolddigger calling Jesse Jackson a œterrorist these are not things that are going to help us understand the situation we™re in as a country right now. The only person who gets served by those kinds of statements is Jason Whitlock.
the U.S. prison population stands at 2.2 million, 25% of all those jailed in the world. It’s not hip-hop that’s doing that. It wasn’t Lil Jon building the fancy new Supermax prison in the middle of Baltimore City. Music and culture are reflections–sometimes very ugly reflections–of these harsh realities. But at the risk of shocking Jason Whitlock, violence and “moral decay” actually predate hip-hop. Blaming hip-hop for our current state is like blaming the pan-flute and zither for the crusades.