In 2007, after Don Imus referred to members of the Rutgers basketball team as “nappy headed hos,” the ensuing debate generally settled into two camps: those who thought Imus should be fired, and those who defended him on First Amendment grounds.
Washington and still has advocates — even President Obama has occasionally trafficked in it — but most young black intellectuals, including many of the kind Whitlock tried to hire for his site, have largely discarded it.
I recently took a dive back into Whitlock’s archive, which confirmed my recollection: He was a damn good columnist — sharp, clever, and provocative, lobbing Molotov cocktails into Arrowhead Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse.
“I’m a bit of a rabble-rouser,” he wrote by way of introduction in his first column.
I was to join Whitlock at an annual Memorial Day barbecue at his mother’s house, in Indianapolis, then fly on to Los Angeles, to visit the Undefeated’s office.
My flights were booked when Whitlock called from an unknown number 12 hours before my departure.