By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Vandals recently spray-painted a racial slur on the gate of a home owned by LeBron James in Brentwood, Calif.
LeBron James spoke about the realities of racism in America when asked about the incident this week, and in turn received a lot of praise from the media and much respect from fans.
Jason Whitlock remained thoroughly unimpressed.
The co-host of “Speak For Yourself” with Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports 1 spoke out against LeBron, saying a rich person like James cannot be the target of racism. Specifically, Whitlock took issue with James’ mentioning of Emmett Till — a statement James made to show that the effort to expose racism dates back more than 60 years.
Here’s a large excerpt of what Whitlock had to say:
“Racism is an issue in America. It’s a real issue and it has real negative impact, particularly on poor people. LeBron James just experienced some disrespect. But what impact does it really have on him? Feelings may be hurt? I don’t know. He wasn’t there. This is a second home.
“I think the analogy to Emmett Till is ridiculous. Emmett Till lost his life brutally in the 1950s over nothing. And to somehow [say] my mind went there because in my $20 million second home in Brentwood, someone spray-painted something that my staff cleaned up within hours and the police investigated I’m sure. It’s not analogous to Emmett Till.
“LeBron to me here is embracing his victimhood.
“It’s a mistake. What happened to him was disrespectful, but again, this is not the racism that needs to be stamped out in America. This is an inconvenience to LeBron. Someone spray-painting something on a millionaire’s home.”
[When asked, ‘He’s not a victim in that situation?’] Hell no! It’s nothing! It’s nothing, Chris. And to analogize it to Emmett Till is a joke.
“I used to be a black kid and [people would say racist slurs to me]. It wasn’t that big of a deal. If someone denies you an opportunity — you can’t go to school here, you can’t have this, you can’t have that — that is the impact of racism. LeBron was inconvenienced. Racism affects the poor. For him to sit there and say, ‘No matter where you are, it’s tough being black in America’? It ain’t tough being LeBron James. It ain’t tough being Oprah Winfrey.”
“This man getting spray-painted on his front door that he never saw, his staff cleaned up, it’s an inconvenience. It’s not racism.
“He can speak out and say, ‘You know what, this was terrible, whoever these individuals were, it was stupid. But the people who really are impacted by this are the poor people who face discrimination.’
“The man said he immediately thought of Emmitt Till. That’s a joke.”
“We’re on a show. I can say what I think.”
[When asked what LeBron should have said … ] “‘This is bad what happened. The people that did it are stupid. But let’s be real here. I have a great life. The people who are poor … .’ He’s not some victim. His life ain’t tough!”
It was a continuation of a point Whitlock had made on Colin Cowherd’s show, when he said:
“LeBron has risen above poverty to that special, elevated place in society where pretty much nothing can bother him. And to sit here and say, ‘Oh my God, my house was vandalized in L.A., and on the eve of this great sporting event, I’m traumatized. It’s just not true.”
[Bayless informed Whitlock that LeBron never claimed to be traumatized.]
“I understand! But that was … the way he … postured and … you know .. the way … again, it was all said for the benefit of social media and Twitter. I’m fired up about it because, look, this is the embrace debate network, that’s what we label ourselves as. And so, I’m not out of bounds here when I say, I watched Undisputed and saw Shannon Sharpe today say the hardest thing is being black in America. And I was just like … this is crazy. Have you ever tried to be a veteran that lost a leg in America? Have you ever been a poor person accused of a crime and forced to go with a public defender in America? Of any color. If you’re poor, regardless of color, you are catching hell. I’ve been poor. Shannon’s been poor. We know the difference. We know how good our lives are. And we don’t need to pretend like, ‘Oh my God, this is so terrible, what’s happening to us.’ We need to be defending the poor and disadvantaged and talking about their issues.
“He has fallen into the far left trap of, there’s value in embracing your victimhood. And so, LeBron, I watched his press conference … and his comments analogizing any part of this to Emmett Till is preposterous.
“He allegedly had the N-word spray-painted on his $20 million Brentwood home. He wasn’t here. His family wasn’t there. He heard about it. He’s on stage, ‘Oh my family’s safe.’ From what? Spraypaint? They’re in Cleveland.
“Racism is an issue in America. But it is primarily an issue for the poor. It’s not LeBron James’ issue. LeBron James, whether he likes it or not, or whether people close to him tell him or not, he has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrepsectful interaction with someone, a disrespectful inconvenience.”
“This ain’t Emmett Till, and we need to quit. And LeBron needs to quit embracing his victimhood and it’s a terrible message for black people.”
“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. When I leave here today, I’m going to drive to Wilshire Boulevard, get out of my car, and throw the keys to my car to some white or Latino man who’s going to say, ‘Mr. Whitlock, anything I can do for you today?’ I’m going to walk into my building, the concierge — probably black — is going to say, ‘Mr. Whitlock, I got a package for you. Anything I can do for you today?’ And then I’m going to go up to my fourth floor apartment and continue to do whatever the hell it is I want to do. And I’m not nearly as rich as LeBron James.
“And so to sit here and act like LeBron, Oprah, me, and a bunch of people in between have some miserable life or we get out of bed every day like, ‘Oh, God, I’m black. What am I going to do today?’ Oh, I hope I can make it! I’m black in America!’ That’s not our existence! That’s a lie!
The comments, as one might imagine, drew some attention. And at some point on Thursday, Martellus Bennett caught wind.
The former Patriot who’s now with the Packers has never been shy about expressing himself, and he used Twitter to unload on Whitlock.
“To say that it’s not someone’s fight because they’re rich is just ridiculous. Racism doesn’t care how much money you make,” Bennett tweeted (edited for punctuation). “You don’t become out of racism’s reach because you’ve cashed a few checks. Racism don’t give a s— you still a n—- in that Benz. You still a n—- in that mansion in racism’s eyes.
“For dude to sit on national television and basically say that Oprah, himself, and Lebron are a different black from everyone else is ludicrous,” he continued. “For any black American thinking that the world will view them differently because they have a little money, y’all tripping. Racism is a living organism. A parasite. That continues to find new hosts every day.”
Bennett took issue with Whitlock talking about his “fourth floor apartment.”
“Dude goes to his ‘4th floor apt’ and doesn’t give a f— about the youth in the communities that are like the ones he came from,” Bennett said. “That’s the issue. Dude like, ‘He’s good He made it. F— everybody else. I’m not like them they’re beneath me. I got money.’ GTFOH. Jason Whitlock you just a n—- on ESPN. Don’t forget that.
“Sorry for the rant. That s— stupid. You ain’t special because you got money. Let’s rebuild our communities not talk down on em. Spectator.”
Whitlock responded, saying Bennett had missed the point of the message.
Bennett responded swiftly.
“Naw I heard you loud a clear. You had a chance to be the voice of the voiceless and that’s the s— you chose to say?” Bennett said. “You had a chance to spread encouragement and TRUTH on hate and injustices in America and that’s the s— you chose to say? You had a chance to spark change but you tried to put out the flames spitting that s— out,” Bennett said. I heard you bro. Your black skin is different from the poor people’s black skin. But not mine, I still have that poor black skin bruh.
“Too many in position to promote change side step the opportunity. If those on top don’t lift others up, they need move their ass away from the edge,” Bennett continued. “They’re just standing there stepping on the hands of others trying to pull themselves up. Boxing out those trying to lend a hand.
“And don’t ever call me Tellus again. That’s what my friends with the poor black skin call me. And that ain’t you!!”
Whitlock responded by insinuating that Bennett could not grasp the intellectual side of his argument.
“I don’t splash,” Bennett said. “Believe it or not, I can actually swim.”