A Raisin in a Bowl of Milk

Scoop Jackson wrote a long piece about the fact that only four out of 305 sports columnists for US newspapers are black. He makes some angry yet understandable points.

“One time about eight years ago, Michael Wilbon walked up to me during a media event at the NBA All-Star Game and said something to me that now is even sadder than the data learned from this study.

He said, “Do you realize that right now you are the most powerful black man in sports journalism?”

At the time, Slam, the mag I was editor-at-large at (not even editor-in-chief), was just finding its niche, making a little noise and getting a little respect. Circulation might have been about 175,000, while Sports Illustrated’s was about 3 million (and it was read by about 20 million).

So when Wilbon sent those words my way, I couldn’t understand. I looked around the room, saw every black sports journalist in the business. The pantheon. How was I the ackniculous one?

He said, “Because you are the only black person in the room who can make a decision on what goes on the cover of a national magazine. And that’s big.”

And the sadness in that is that it’s true. As small as the magazine was at the time, the fact that no other person of color had the juice to do what I was allowed to do at Slam was sickening.

It was then I realized how distorted the game was. And eight years later, according to the 1.3 percent doctrine, ain’t a damn thang changed.

In the introduction of “My Soul Has Grown Deep,” John Edgar Wideman writes, “… the still unresolved question: How should radically unequal, African-descended ex-slaves — impoverished, landless, stigmatized, disenfranchised, without civil rights, lacking of formal education, with little or no previous experience of citizenship — be incorporated into a society whose announced creed is democracy, a democracy in theory open and fair that guarantees all its citizens an equal opportunity to compete in the struggle for a decent life?”

Apply that to the results of the Associated Press Sports Editors report, and the question still remains unresolved.

In reality, the situation isn’t about race as much as it is about fruit. Strange fruit.

That’s why I once told Boston sports radio host Willie Maye, who is a member of the 1.3 percent in his area of sports media, “When I do my memoir about my life as a journalist, I’m not going to call it ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ I’m calling it ‘A Raisin in a Bowl of Milk.'”