Just catching up with this.
SportingNews.com editor Garry Howard wrote a response late Friday afternoon, addressing the furor over David Whitley’s column about Colin Kaepernick and his tattoos.
As a sports editor who also happens to be African-American, it is my job to vet each and every opinion piece to ensure that the message does not get lost and I certainly could have done more, in retrospect, to make sure it did not. In particular, the inference that many people with tattoos have been to prison, or that having tattoos is an indicator of criminality, was problematic to many readers.
Still, the overriding point of the column was there and one nationally televised discussion, in particular—on “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless—did a great job of explaining that the column was indeed more generational in tone and that tattoos in today’s society are not necessarily a great thing for young, prospective job candidates of all races.
Howard also quotes Whitley. Whitley wrote in an email:
“I fully realize sailors and Hell’s Angels aren’t the only people with tattoos these days. But tattoos still carry a negative stigma, which is why you don’t see a lot of politicians and captains of industry sporting ink.
“NFL QB represents the ultimate CEO figure in sports. And it’s been tattoo-free except for the few players who’ve lived up (or down) to the bad-guy tattoo image. Now along comes Kaepernick, a role model in the Tim Tebow category. His success would help shatter the tattoo stereotype. If old guys like me have a hard time dealing with that, too bad for us.
“That was my intended point,” he continued. “I wish I’d done a better job getting that across. What I didn’t factor in was that admitting I don’t like tattoos was going to be equated with me admitting I don’t like African-Americans. The women at the gym I referenced in that column are white. So is Jeremy Shockey. I once asked Dwight Howard if he’d ever get a tattoo, and he said no way. His aversion was based on religious ground. Mine was based on the fact I think tattoos look silly. I knew that would stamp me an Old Man. I didn’t know it would stamp me a racist.
Howard then concludes:
Hindsight always helps you see things clearer and the reaction to this—even inside our very own newsroom and the discussion I joined on Twitter last night and earlier today—has surely opened our eyes. It was not our intent to offend anyone, and if we did, we apologize.
However, we should be able to—in this day and time—have a discussion on the subject of tattoos without it morphing into a race debate when in fact, it was about a new generation doing things in a fresh and different manner.
That’s all I’m saying.
On Friday, I did a post featuring Whitley’s initial comments to the uproar. He said:
If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.