Thursday, December 8, 2022

San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, Sports Writer David Whitley Tattoo comments.

December 2, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( A sports columnist is trying to explain himself after making some odd remarks about the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Sports writer David Whitley doesn’t seem to know the difference between an NFL quarterback and a prison inmate, after he compared 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to men who just got out of prison.

Whitley says that Colin Kaepernick can never be a legitimate hero because he discounts the position of quarterback with all of his tattoos, which can be found at the local Spokane tattoo shop.

San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy,” wrote David Whitley in AOL FanHouse.

Approximately 98.7 per cent of the inmates at California’s state prison have tattoos. I don’t know that as fact, but I’ve watched enough Lockup to know it’s close to accurate.”

David Whitley also said this:

NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

Obviously, the column got a reaction, but not the kind that’s good for  business.  If an article sparks a light among readers, that’s great.  But the last thing you want is a forest fire.

In spite of the controversy, David Whitley wasn’t backing down from his words.  The columnist goes one up on the “I have a black friend” defense:  He actually has two adopted daughters who just happen to be black.

If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist,” he said.

“It didn’t occur to me that admitting I’m not a fan of body art would be admitting I don’t like African-Americans.”

David Whitley’s explanation of his personal life didn’t stop the intense public reaction and even required his editor to write a defense for his words.
David Whitley seems to think that having black people close to you means that you can’t be a racist. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  There are quite a few people who hold racial anxieties who also have black people in their lives that they love to death.  You need to go no further than the old southern plantation, where massa’s wife would trust her black nanny with her life and her children.  You can also point to college campuses like The University of Kentucky, where the negroes on the court are treated like rock stars, while rank-and-file black people are considered second-class citizens.  So, loving a black person is not a “Get out of jail free” card when it comes to accusations of racial oppression.

Some of David Whitley’s animus could be due to the fact that times (and people) are changing.  Part of the problem could be a classist reaction to “those people” who come from a different background from ourselves.  Loving black children doesn’t mean that he loves all black people, and there are some who associate themselves with black folks so they can teach them a set of values that differ from what they might see otherwise….at worst, it can be part of the paternalistic tradition of “civilizing the savages.”

But in Whitley’s defense, it can be noted that there are quite a few black people who are equally annoyed with the “tatted-up” culture of modern athletes.  Additionally, there is a very disturbing spillover effect between prison culture and black male culture in general, largely driven by the rapid expansion of the prison industrial complex, where black men have become cattle being fed to slaughter in a capitalist machine of involuntary servitude.   We even have music being played for black boys on a daily basis that indoctrinates them into a set of predictable decisions that significantly increase their probability of spending time in prison.

What is certainly true, however, is that you can’t disconnect race from Whitley’s association of a tattoo-covered black athlete with a prison inmate.   The prisons are full of black men who could have been professional athletes, and there are plenty of professional athletes who roam with convicted felons.  The cultures tend to overlap and many white folks can’t tell the difference between the big black man who might hurt them and the big black man who will score their touchdowns.

The bottom line is that the analogy was an inappropriate and unnecessary example of when “keeping it real goes wrong.” Whitley could have expressed his concern in a more decent and thoughtful way, rather than grabbing onto the most convenient stereotype he could find.  Also, he needs to focus on loving his black daughters and not using them as political hand puppets, since using them to make his case only makes him look like that much more of a bigot.  A better approach for David Whitley might have been for him to protect his job by judging the player by the content of his character and not the colors on his skin.  He probably needs to go ahead and apologize.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit



15 Responses to “San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, Sports Writer David Whitley Tattoo comments.”
  1. my thoughts says:

    @Ramses comment on point. Obama is a war criminal and it didn’t stop blacks from voting for him.

  2. sankofa says:

    I did a post on my blog on how Caucasians use our children as commodities, like ankle bracelet or tattoos. Congrats to my man Mack major for sharing this link. This is what I think about when that reporter talked shit about he has an adopted daughter. Our children are like any pets they pick up at the local animal shelter. Why they don’t have Caucasian children they can adopt? And we are complicit in the destruction of our family. Check out the link.

  3. FormerCollegiateProAthleteandCoach says:

    It’s funny to see how these things evolve over time. I was a late 70s/ early 80s kid. Back then, IF, NOT HOW BEAUTIFULLY TAILORED, a black man had a tattoo or corn rows it was because he had to…no clippers in jail etc. My dad and his homeboys were tattooed involuntarily upon entering the military – they wore code numbers. So to see guys now have them laid down to perfection is funny to me….I just laugh.

    Unfortunately, the non-sports media sees this as a color thing, but in the lockerroom and as an ex-coach and player, I know all the guys see it the same. For me I would look at the white player all tatted up the same as the black player all tatted up. For me when I see some tatted up (not just a tatoo) I wonder. What’s the background? Is this guy ok? He seems quite expressive about his story? Is there something going on with him (based on him being tatted up) that might keep him from being able to focus and lead his team. They’re just genuine questions. Anything he needs to tell me that I can help him with?

    You’re right the focus shouldn’t be on minorities. Unfortunatley, there are still a small few who are narrowed minded and it gives them an out to be bigoted. These days guys are more individualized and expressive…even the white guys. Starting tackle for the Dolphins whole arm is covered, Clay Matthews for the Packers’ hair is as all the down his back, Vikings defensive linemen Jared Allen has a few also, White Chocolate Jason Williams ex-Miami Heat point gaurd had a bunch..Birdman for the Nuggets.

    Most of the sports crowd is diverse and open minded. So I wouldn’t let one asshole get us down.

  4. Ramses says:

    Bush was a war criminal but it didn’t stop whites from voting for him did it? People need to grow up. Get your face out of the tv and learn people on an individual basis. This is a gladiator sport. People image is what they want to project and it’s who they are. America has a lot of infantile minded people who call themselves adults and no wonder these children have so many issues. Here’s some info on tattoos

    Corporate America always wants to have it both ways. One minute you want urban culture then you don’t. I remember years ago people talking about banning brothers from wearing lock in football. Really! We all have different nuances to our different cultural backgrounds. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you don’t hurt me and I dont hurt you then what’s the issue. A lot of these journalists, who tend to be white alot, come off real jealous to athletes, especially black ones. Then when they say some slick shit, or print a picture or caricature of a player and then a player gets offended and says something, then they want to hide behind free speech. Free speech won’t save you when that athlete (no matter the ethnicity) catch you by yourself and whips your weak ass. Some of these ponk ass reporters need their asses whipped for the shit they talk. Media loves to phrase things in a certain way to start trouble. I realized over the years that i had a lot of things in common with whites. But because I was younger, and considered myself black, I automatically assumed that myself and whites could never get along. Come to find out it’s not the case. But you know who drove that thought home: media. Not saying blacks and whites haven’t had conflicts but individually, never had any conflicts with whites. So whether you’re black white pink or purple, learn people individually first. Stop making ignorant assumptions about people you just don’t know. Just because a person plays a sport doesn’t mean your stupid ass journalism degree allows you the right to judge people off of their profession haphazardly. In my opinion, media is the number one reason why society can’t move forward in a positive way because of the dissension it likes to cause amongst different groups. Damn it’s just a fucking tatoo and he’s a football player. Dude didn’t commit a crime. if people engaged their government as much as they did their fantasy leagues and sports figures, maybe this country could be the jewel it was meant to be damn idiots.

  5. sankofa says:

    @FormerCollegiateProAthleteandCoach…thanks for that measured response. I agree with you on all points. I get riled when some one like @Apronstrings, who insist on lying and deflecting and defending an obvious reference to African ethnicity, even though this dude is mixed. I want this…Apronstrings to show me where reference to tattoos and criminality/prisons has ever been applied to any other ethnic group like it is done to Africans in America. Even though tattoos was originally an ancient European military and pirate culture.

    I will be waiting…

  6. Apronstrings says:

    I thought Kaepernick was Greek or Italian. And I thought discussing prison tats meant anyone from prison, not just black men. My white friend from prison has just as many tattoos as Kaepernick, and I always refer to him as my friend from prison with all the tats. Geez, get your heads out of the racist gutter. It is about presenting yourself to older folks and younger folks in a manner that displays respect, leadership, and trust. Tats make a hurdle into someone’s impression of you, be it dirty, druggy, ugly, soiled, sloppy, criminal (of all races, come on, gangs of all creed have their tats!!)

  7. FormerCollegiateProAthleteandCoach says:

    Sankofa, First I do appreciate you reading and responding.

    WHITE STANDARD – I couldn’t disagree with you more. Just like you and leaderchips said it doesn’t define ones character, HOWEVER, it’s just one less hurdle you have to jump through. Kaepernick seems like a decent young man even when he was at Nevada U. It’s not a white standard…that standard applies to all regardless of race and especially those positions of leadership. If it were my middle linebacker, I wouldn’t even blink. We’re talking quarterback. I want that guy looking like Peyton Manning, Doug Williams, Tom Brady, Tony Dungy, Steve Nash, Dwayne Wade – crisp and sharp like you’re on you’re way to work and all the guys and teammates dependent on you can SEE THAT eveytime they pass you. To me it’s gladly accepting the fact you are representing everybody at that position..not just yourself. One of my best friends is the head coach at a predominately black university in Louisiana. He believes the same thing even for his quarterback at the predominately black university. It just doesn’t apply to the “white” institution. To me it transcends.

    TATTOOS VS TATS – Both you guys are correct, ultimately character will prevail. However it’s human nature. Tattoos aren’t an issue with me or modest earrings..whatever. However, people will second those, white or black or asian or latino, who are tatted up.

    ADOPTION – Look at the process. It sucks. Over 2012 I recently tried to adopt a child who wasn’t my blood – it fell through and it’s quite painful. The process is dysfunctional and almost impossible. The truth is, there aren’t many people lining up to adopt kids in need – white or black.

  8. leaderchips says:

    Some people with a lot of tattoos define who they are. But Kap’s tattoos don’t define who he is. There’s a lot more to this guy than his tattoos. And if some of those critics would have bothered to figure out what Kap’s tattoos are of and what they say, they might have had a better idea of who this guy is.

  9. sankofa says:

    @FormerCollegiateProAthleteandCoach says:

    Your points are valid, but for me up to a point. I abhor tats, rings and acting coonish from athletes. I have been involved in athletics for a long period in my life and I was always low keyed, even as a headliner, but then it’s a personality and self confidence issue. But I don’t wear a westernized suit either because this is a judgment based off of European standards. And as a student of African mystory and European history, they are the least ones I would use as a measuring stick in image consultation.

    Military personnel, of which I know well, have tattoos, regular people have tattoos, and does that make them prisoner material? This European standard is a playing field with a constantly moving goal post. Other quarterbacks wear tattoos, other Caucasian athletes wear tattoos, again I don’t like it, but for him to equate this just with prison culture is bullshit and he gets a pass for adopting African girls. This is the classic case of getting caught with hoof in mouth disease and then saying …”I have black friends!” as if that excuses you from being what you are. Hell, I have African friends who hate themselves and love Caucasians to no fault, should I give them a pass too?

  10. FormerCollegiateProAthleteandCoach says:

    “NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

    THIS STATEMENT – I AGREE. Why? B/C there are some positions in life like a dad, a boss, a general, a CEO, a president of the US, a preacher, a point gaurd etc. where appearance does matter. Is it the end of the world? – of course not. Unlike say the primadonna wide receiver or mouthy cornerback who thinks he’s going to pick off every pass, those guys have no interest in being the ambassador for the rest of the team, the coaching staff, university or NFL team, fan base etc. However, the quarterback and point gaurds are different. As a former player and coach in both college and the NFL, I want my quarterback to BE INTERESTED IN APPRECIATING THE ABILITY TO LEAD MEN (not avoiding the opportunity) and therefore take their leadership skills to the next level.

    I don’t take Whitley’s comments offensive or as racist (although he may have already been that prior to even knowing of Kaepernick). Look at the content of it. He’s saying nothing different than my dad said to me as well as my grandmother would’ve told me if I had tatooes all over my body. In fact, just before my freshman year at an NCAA institution I had earrings put in before two a days practices started. My dad, who was an old school black southern conservative and gentlemen, asked me if that was wise for obvious and various reasons. The answer became obviously “NO” and I had the earrings taken out. How would it look that a guy in a position of leadership and other men, who’s not played a down yet or earned anyone’s respect, walks onto campus with gold earrings, bling, etc and has the appearance that they’ve already made it big time? It “looks” odd – FOR THAT POSITION…any other position – knock yourself out! That’s all the writer is saying.

    Do I judge others for them using their bodies to display artwork? No, it’s their choice and I respect that. But I applaud all those who try to do it the right way. In this day and age, we cannot have enough young black men who aren’t afraid to tone it down, maintain respect on the field/court and who also can have fun with it the right way.

  11. sankofa says:

    Yep deflect this suckers statement and reference and then dispare mine about adoptation. Fuck that mess and I will stand by my statement. Go kick rocks if you don’t like it, any other response wil get a different one. Perhaps if you look closely Kaepernick, is a product of mixing, so it is easier for him to get by. Knee-grows that don’t like my stand tough shit. Caucasians… suck it!

  12. Zen says:

    Wow Sankofa, maybe you need to take a good long hard look in the mirror before you start accusing others of being racist. So you say that “the vast amount of caucasians adopting African children is suspect”. Talk about a blatantly bigoted intolerant statement, categorizing and degrading the vast number of a particular group of people based solely on the color of their skin. FYI, while not from Africa, Mr. Kaepernick, an African American, was adopted by loving caucasian parents who raised him to be the upstanding young man that he is today.

  13. ta says:

    I do think his assumption of having tattoos is ignorant but how/where did people get “black” from what he said??
    Funny thing is that those who thought he was being racist are the ones that, they themselves, made the correlation between inmates, tattoos, and blacks.
    What does that say about how you feel about your own race?

  14. sankofa says:

    Dr. Boyce I too am not enamored by Tattoos, however, it doesn’t excuse this obvious anti-African association with Tattoo and criminality where none exists. I like my racist honest and this prick can’t even be honest about his hate. This is also another reason why the vast amount of Caucasians adopting African children is suspect. What…not enough Caucasian orphans to go around? This is two little girls that will grow up shunning their people, because this idiot’s feelings are shown briefly through this statement.

  15. Death says:

    He will regret saying that ,,,he will

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!