I grew up in Kansas City and also spent a few years in town programming a sports radio station, hosting a midday sports radio talk show and broadcasting KC Royals baseball. Ten years ago, my sports radio talk show - for a short while - competed directly with a show hosted by KANSAS CITY STAR columnist Jason Whitlock on another KC station.
(If I didn’t have a ringer that night, I’d have been behind Whitlock in line)
The 41-year-old Whitlock, in case you don’t know, is by far the most popular (and notorious to some) media figure in KC, and most likely the biggest celebrity inside the city limits, save George Brett. Back when I was doing the radio thing, I was in hyper-competitive mode, so I probably said some things about Whitlock that were unfair and downright distasteful. Since I left KC, I’ve grown to more appreciate his media work and contrarian-yet-compelling perspective on black culture.
So it pained me to see the piece he recently wrote in my hometown paper about the relatively new Kansas City downtown entertainment venture, called the “Power & Light District”. In the column Whitlock, who is black, essentially damns the entire District as a failure because the bouncer and manager of one of the P&L’s clubs would not initially allow him entry on a Saturday night. He asserts in the column that he and his two companions, also black males, were stonewalled solely because of race. (They were eventually let into the club.)
Coincidentally, I myself was at P&L last month and gained entry to the same establishment, called “Shark Bar”. On that Saturday night, about 30% of the patrons I observed inside the bar were black - male and female. That was also reflective of the overall demographic at P&L that night.
Just as important, I saw no signs of black males being unduly turned away at the door, despite massive overcrowding around the entrance. None, at least at the time I was there, were passed in line at the door or being unduly refused entrance while white males were allowed in. All males were treated the same.
I was fast-tracked into the club solely because of my lovely female companion. (You know who.) If I was there with another male, I would’ve expected to stand in line - unless I knew someone that worked at the club.
Whitlock has no doubt frequented night clubs and bars in the biggest cities in America, and around the world for that matter. He knows that everyone who goes to clubs can occasionally be denied entrance for no good reason. God knows I’ve had it happen to me dozens of times!
Whitlock, I would hope, also knows that the bouncer’s job at the KC club that night was to not just let everyone into the bar. His job was to filter the crowd so hot, young, 20-something females got in first. Followed by young, similarly-aged, binge-drinking males. That’s the prevailing demographic of Shark Bar, and most of P&L for that matter. For that obviously preferred demographic, the color of skin, from what I observed, was incidental.
So where does that leave three forty-something black men trying to crash the club?
Nothing is fair about trying to enter a crowded club on a Saturday night. Especially if your group is all male, non-celebrities and outside the prevailing age demographic.
The same would’ve applied that night if three white, well-dressed 40-something gentlemen pulled up at Shark Bar wearing expensive cowboy boots and bolo ties. Odds are, they won’t be in the express lane.
So why would a worldly Whitlock lash out at the bar in such a public manner - in an obvious, albeit clumsy attempt to damage P&L’s reputation?
I think I may know the answer. Read more…