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Black America

Michael Vick

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There’s been much controversy surrounding the case of Atlanta Falcons football player, Michael Vick and the allegations of animal cruelty that lead to his arrest. Police found all the makings of an illegal dogfighting setup on his rural Virginia estate.

–“The case began April 25 when investigators conducting a drug search at a massive home Vick built in rural Virginia found 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and equipment typically used in dogfighting. They included a “rape stand” that holds aggressive dogs in place for mating and a “breakstick” used to pry open a dog’s mouth.”

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Not surprisingly this story is tinged with racial overtones. The mostly white animal rights activists have called for the NFL to bench and fine Vick even before his trial has begun and Vick’s supporters, most of whom are Black, are claiming that this case has all the signs of smear campaign targeting a prominent Black athlete.

Michael Vick is a successful and wealthy young Black athlete and many in the Black community believe that because of his stature and fame and his Blackness, he is being made an example of and is suffering from overly harsh public censures that has lead to many of his endorsements being dropped. Nike, Reebok, and Donruss trading cards were among the first companies to drop their sponsorship of Vick and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to end there. Many believe that because of the severity and barbarity of the allegations leveled against Vick, the footballer will be essentially blacklisted.

Lots of articles are circling the Web with varying takes on whether Vick is being figuratively lynched in the public eye and the support of Vick is predominantly Black.

A Community Hug?

–“Not everyone is prepared to abandon Vick, however. About 90 people gathered at a community center Friday in his hometown of Newport News, Va., in a show of support for him. The event was billed as ‘A Community Hug for Michael Vick.'” “We’ve got a young man who has risen to great heights,” the Rev. Marcellus Harris, who helped organize the gathering, told the Newport News Daily Press. “If America can dump him, they can dump any one of us.”

–“But some black parents wonder whether Vick’s race has heightened negative attention.” “And for some African-American parents, the issue of race is as essential to a conversation about Vick as moral questions of right and wrong. At issue is not simply the indictment or the catalog of missteps the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback has accrued in the last six years. It is the belief among some that, as a black man with a staggering paycheck, notoriety, unique talent and personality, Vick has always been something of a target.”

This is not a matter of race or racial injustice. I, a person of African descent, cannot stand with those Black supporters of Vick and claim that this is unfair treatment based on the color of Vick’s skin. It’s a shame that many in the Black community are unable to look beyond their own history of racial injustice to see and understand that dogfighting is a tragic and inhumane activity that causes unbelievable pain and suffering and even death of innocent animals all for the amusement and financial profit of humans. Dogfighting is barbaric and an inability to see it as anything other than that is reflective of a community that has lost its sense of empathy, compassion, and humanity.

I hesitate to draw parallels between the exploitation of animals and the exploitation of Black people. For instance, I would never call the cattle industry, an industry that keeps captive and breeds cows solely for human consumption, slavery but it is similar, in that sentient beings are held against their will and used for economic profit.

The debate isn’t whether or not successful Black public figures are targets for racial injustice in this country. Historically, that has been proved true, but that doesn’t mean that Michael Vick, or others like him, get to act with impunity harming animals or people for financial gain or entertainment. This kind of carelessness and total disregard for living creatures is pathological. At what point do we in the Black community say enough is enough? Historical suffering and racial oppression of Black people does not mean that we can behave in inhumane ways. Racism is no excuse.

37 Comments

  1. Well said.

  2. Sokari

    This is America and public opinion and justice are always racialised.

    Dog fighting is cruel, inhumane and a damn disgusting activity. The fact that he is such a public sports figure and has influence on young kids and teens means he has even more of a responsibility in how he conducts his life.

    The inequalities in society at large and the justice system does not mean we as Black people have to blindly defend the indefensible.

  3. Comment by post author

    Yes, public opinion and justice are always racialized, especially in the US, but for me this is a clear cut case of unacceptable brutality and Michael Vick’s behavior should not be excused away because of racial politics.

    To diffuse the use of race in this situation, more Black people need to speak out against animal cruelty and Vick’s actions.

  4. This is the same mentality that excuses anything Mugabe does. Disgusting.

    There are millions of black people in the United States who don’t engage in such sickening behavior. But they can’t throw a football so they don’t have anyone kissing their ring.

  5. harold

    Great read. And I agree. I don’t think the race card should be played here. If anything, I think we should have a larger cultural discussion about how animals are treated in general.

    If Michael Vick is evil, then what about our factory farms?

    http://www.unboundedition.com/content/view/1676/50/

  6. Joan Kelly

    I haven’t actually heard/read a lot of black people either defending Vick or saying he’s being treated extra harshly just because he did what he did while being black. What I have heard, a number of places (blogs, radio stations, face to face) is surprise and anger at how much people are reacting to the suffering of these dogs and yet the ongoing suffering of, for example, many people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, is practically invisible.

    I am an off-the-charts animal lover, and have tried to limit my intake of details about this case because it is hard for me to tolerate. But I have had to ask myself in the last several days – although I certainly don’t feel *nothing* when it comes to hearing about human suffering, I don’t have to create my own personal media blackout, no pun intended, around events like Katrina. Or Iraq. Or conditions for neighbors in my own city. Human suffering does effect me intensely, but I still am more reactive to animals being harmed. I feel like having a conversation about why some black people have responded to that point, in particular, is not condoning or distracting from what Vick is accused of. I think it matters, and is simply another important subject that this case has brought up.

  7. At what point do we in the Black community say enough is enough? Historical suffering and racial oppression of Black people does not mean that we can behave in inhumane ways. Racism is no excuse.

    I have the same sentiment. Whether it’s Vick, or R. Kelly who’s about to go on trail; we should not be standing beind criminals just because they’re black. If he was actually being railroaded simply because of his race, that would be one thing. But pretending that he couldn’t have possibly done anything wrong and defending him no matter what is just as bad on the other end, or at least close to it.

    It’s not black pride to prop up Black criminals and foster a culture of Black criminality. That’s why I had to say for the NAACP to shut up in my post yesterday: http://www.blackperspective.net/index.php/note-to-the-naacp/

  8. Comment by post author

    In my less enlightened days, I used to say, “I’ll treat an animal like a human when humans are no longer treated like animals.” But then I realized that the oppression of animals is linked to the oppression of humans… a general disregard for living beings with the motivation to exploit and capitalize off of their suffering.

    I think it’s possible to be both outraged by Michael Vick’s abuse of animals and the abject poverty and despair seen in the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I don’t think we need to be either or when it comes to the suffering of animals or humans.

    I think you make a good point though in regards to being more reactive to animals being harmed. We have a tendency to blame the victim when it comes to humans, while animals are totally helpless. Interesting.

  9. Joan Kelly

    Kym – you said everything I feel about the whole thing, thanks for what you wrote.

  10. Ithilgore

    How can you spin this into a rascist attack? Did you even look at what he did to all those dogs? If he’s treated hundreds of animals this badly, he deserves all the punishment he gets. If he was white, no doubt you would be calling for a life imprisonment sentence. And if he was white, he would be in as much trouble as if he were black. Animal cruelty liek this is disgusting, it has nothing to do with him being black.

    You just want to see rasism everywhere.

  11. Comment by post author

    Ithligore,

    You didn’t read my post. I said that racism and Michael Vick’s blackness had nothing to do with this case.

  12. Oh come on, his co-defendants ratted him out on it! Any ass that fights dogs should be taken the way of Old Yeller, regardless of skin color. You just like to complain. And we appreciate the fact that you closed comments on the zombie article. That’s a whole hornet’s nest of gamers that don’t like when someone shoots their mouth off about something they don’t know anything about.

  13. Anonymous

    Oh, and the bodies of 14 dead dogs buried in the back yard, don’t pay attention to those. It’s a race thing, for sure.

  14. disgusted/enraged "asian" gamer

    Kym Platt,
    Since you closed the comments on the Resident Evil 5 thread, I shall post my response here:

    I just read that Village Voice article written by Bonnie Ruberg (“a white woman”), and there is no difference: she is just as ignorant and racist as you are.

    Have either of you ever complained about a game where a black protagonist kills white or other non-black people? No, of course not.

    You see everything in terms of race because you yourself are a racist and an anti-white bigot (accusing the evil white man of making a game that in reality was made by a Japanese company).

    Obviously some writer for The Village Voice will agree with you, you’re both members of the left wing lunatic fringe that’s making a mockery of rational intellectual discourse in our country. And of course you don’t realize it and are shocked by this reaction to your post, because usually all your interactions are with like-minded individuals like Bonnie Ruberg and only serve to reinforce all your warped views of the rest of the world.

  15. disgusted/enraged "asian" gamer

    Other than that, have a nice day.

    But seriously, you need to consider whether an unreasonable post like that will help or hurt the causes and ideas that you believe in.

    Or rationalize it by convincing yourself that all the gamers (many of them minorites like me) commenting on your post are racists as well?

  16. Sokari

    Disgusted Asian gamer @ the comments were closed by me because I felt nothing knew was being said and the level of abuse directed at Kym was quite was disgusting. No one has the right to call her a “bitch” because they dont like what she writes. By all means challenge the point made by Kym (as you have done) but there is no need to sink to the level of abuse of most of the comments.

  17. Blah

    Get back into the cotton fields, you filthy nigger.

  18. disgusted/enraged "asian" gamer

    Sokari,
    Fair enough.

    I think Kym and the others on this site should note that all the black and other minority gamers posting at gaming sites find her column to be completely off-base.
    Kym, you should have left this issue to GAMERS, because you don’t really know anything about it.

    http://kotaku.com/gaming/zombie-racism/black-looks-on-re-5-racism-284725.php

  19. disgusted/enraged "asian" gamer

    And Kym, can you clarify your comment:

    “Yes… I am more comfortable with the zombies being white. In fact, ALL zombies should be white from this day forth.”

  20. Comment by post author

    disgusted/enraged “asian” gamer,

    I can clarify my comments… I was joking. You gamers scare me.

  21. jkwest

    Kym,

    As a white father of two black children, I am greatly disturbed by your post and your comment…

    I find it sad that racial equality is being hinder by the blind hatred that you have to Caucasians.

    Please do research before posting. This a video game designed by Asians, the “white protagonist” is actually a Native American…and after post this article, your first comment is “Yes… I am more comfortable with the zombies being white. In fact, ALL zombies should be white from this day forth.”?

    I took this comment at face value and now in another thread you say that it was a joke? I think you need to either 1) apologize for your comment or 2)delete it

    I am sad on how this has turned out and it should be addressed…this article is everywhere on the internet right now and you have some serious explaining to do..

    jkwest

  22. Tim

    Finally, a black person saying something ‘bad’ about another black person. I get tired of the race card being pulled all the time and the blind faith most (not all) blacks give to other blacks. I’m not saying Vick is guilty or not (although I think he is) but the evidence is good, and getting better. We need to (both sides) start judging people by their actions and not their skin color. BOTH SIDES!

  23. Sokari

    Comments on the game post are closed. If you comment on that here or anywhere else your comment will be deleted.

  24. Joan Kelly

    Kym,

    I appreciated this post and the Resident Evil one. I don’t even feel like addressing the insanity that’s been spewed here and at the other thread, because I find you obviously sane and thus not in need of reassurance that the commenters are wrong. However, I fucking hate seeing (any)men and white people try to bully anyone, but especially women, and especially women of color. I really just wanted you to know that while the fuckheads might be loud right now, in their various forms (from shame-on-you condescension to racial slurring monstrosity), their poison could build to a million times its current volume, and it would still never approach the amount of respect and love directed your way.

  25. Jay

    @Kym,

    Thank you for your post.

    (and to @$$clowns commenting on the gaming post, as the brits say, shut it! sokari closed the comments. Finished.)

    Well said. Also indictable (word?) is the entire field of american (male) athletics. I suspect Vick, like so many of his peers, has been acting out for a very long time. I don’t believe he just decided to wake up on day and harm animals. Everyone loses here, but most of all the animals lose the most.

    Thanks again,
    Jay

  26. An American Educator

    Want to know if race is involved?
    The public reaction to this situation would be the same if Michael was brown, yellow, black, white, Christian, Hindu, Moslem, Atheist, or any combination of the above. His downfall is that he is a STAR ATHLETE. This position affords him the opportunity to be an influential role model (bad or good) in our society. Here’s where his RACE comes in. He had the chance to make a major impact in the lives of our youth, particularly black youth. America is in DESPERATE need of more positive black role models, male and female, who are willing to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!. Just look at the plight of black youth, particularly in the inner-city. I’ve read about Vick’s upbringing and he should certainly be able to relate.
    He has not only let down the Falcons, Atlanta, his family, and his fans…..he has let down his RACE. Shame on you, Michael Vick.

  27. Sean

    Jeez, talk about “me me me” in terms of dealing with racism.

  28. Sara

    If a white football player did this, the same thing would happen. It has nothing to do with race. It has all to do with ANIMAL CRUELTY.

  29. dr

    Joan Kelly…
    are u hitting on kym? ;-). n ya, people get upset when u attack their hobbies, so back off. but kym u are right with this whole dog fighting situation. its just disturbing (def the pic u posted of that poor pit bull :'(). sucks ur goin to get a buncha people pissed about what uve said about the 2min trailer that shows no real depth of the story (ever played a game made in the 21st century, their full of plot twists). but woot for u for callin it how u see it (because i see ur point in the re5, but to go so far is seeing that the reaction by those who see the trailer as racist as individuals who want to assume the worst in humanity).

    -d

  30. Joan Kelly

    dr – Yes. All love is lesbian love, thanks for understanding.

    Also – She talked about racism in a game. She didn’t attack anyone’s hobby.

    C U L8R,
    Joan

  31. Comment by post author

    dr,

    While I’m flattered by your belief that Joan is hitting on, the fact is, she was only offering me some support on this very crazy day. And I’m grateful for it.

    However, if she was hitting on me…excellent! I’m going through a bit of dry spell these days! 😉 I feel as though I’ve lost my game… no pun intended.

  32. Joan Kelly

    Delighted by a woman as cool as you even joking about being happy I’d hit on her. Mentally sending you force field that deflects evil.

  33. sarah

    This is in regards to the Resident Evil controversy; this is the most crazy thing I have ever heard being called a form of racism! I guess it would be a different story if it were white zombies and a black man killing them? But, I guess it’s to be expected since if we had the “United White’s College Fund” or “Miss White America” or even “White Entertainment Television” we would be called racists. If you want to be treated equally, quit segregating youselves.

  34. Max

    Your post makes me so god damn angry, it’s ridiculous. You’re the racist here, turning an issue of inhumane animal treatment into a racial one, giving sympathy to a man over his skin color. Shame on you!

  35. The Darkness

    Oh wow. A football player who abuses dogs loses his endorsements. And he’s black. It has to be because he’s African American, right? Ms. Platt, are you fucking insane? Jesus Christ, you make Jesse Jackson look semi-competent.

    NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER

  36. The Darkness

    Oh, yes. I don’t use Nigger as a common word for all black persons. I use it for stupid ones who use their skin color for sympathy. Ms. Platts, you are a nigger. That’s all I have to say.

  37. co210

    he should just be put in jail for a few months and then put on probation for a year or 2. aww i feel so bad for the dog though.