Confused White Editors: Is There Really a Black KKK?

This week I came across an article in Playboy (June 2008) suspiciously and nonsensically named, “The Black KKK: Thug Life is Killing Black America. It’s Time to Do Something About It” by Jason Whitlock. First the title grabbed my attention and caused my blood pressure to rise, for my scholarly intuition alerted me that the blame of Black violence would be placed on Blacks. Mr. Whitlock noted that the title was crafted not by him, but by the “second in command” under Hugh Hefner, Chris Napolitano, editorial director of Playboy magazine. Whitlock refers to Napolitano as a person “committed to stirring a racial controversy” with use of the title and his efforts in this regard are “calculated and deliberate.”

Whitlock missed pointing out that the title attempted to tie a white hate group that has historically (and presently) attempted to psychologically and physically terrorize people of color for centuries within the U.S. for the purposes of social control to an epidemic of violence between a segment of poor Black people. It is easier to compare oranges to apples than the KKK to Black violence.

The article in essence makes “a desperate plea for America to change course from its lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key criminal justice system. The approach doesn’t create safety. It breeds corruption and gang culture. And it is currently crippling state and federal budgets.” This is a point I and others (here and here) agree with.

The article does a good job at presenting information on the uniquely politically strong prison-guard union in California and their effects on policies and procedures around Black and Brown incarceration. This in fact is the same system that leads the country in the mentality of the “lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key criminal justice system” that has swept the country.

Whitlock fails in presenting an encompassing analysis of the issue of Black and Brown people being incarcerated. First, he fails to discuss or acknowledge the effects poverty has on the occurrences of crime. Secondly, he goes no where near presenting to the reader the effects of racism, oppression, and social control within the judicial system. Seeing him on varies television shows, it is apparent that Whitlock is grounded in a color-blind functionalist paradigm, therefore it does not amaze me that these variables were left out of the discussion. Now, I know that Mr. Whitlock’s forte involves writing within the sphere of sports. But he needs to stick to his arena of expertise of field goals and touch downs for writing on social issues without a critical lens within an arena such as Playboy can do more harm than good. What did he think would happen when publishing within a magazine (see also this) that has historically courted a particular population–well-to-do White males.

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