Thursday, May 28, 2009

The First Step...

After reading this piece from Jemele Hill, I realized something that bothers me about the Michael Vick saga. I mean beyond the dog fighting, the lying, and the superhuman ability to blow through the better part of $100 million in about six years.

It struck me after reading this quote:

"We're going to root for him to succeed because his success is another example of how African-Americans can overcome," said James Powell, who was born and raised in Atlanta and has been a Falcons season-ticket holder since 1999. "It will prove we're not all dogfighters, thugs or drug dealers. It's another image of the black man in the media that will be more positive than negative. We don't want the lasting image of the black quarterback in Atlanta to be, 'He fell from grace because he was a part of a dogfighting ring.'"

Speaking as a white guy, I don't believe that all African-Americans people are "dogfighters, thugs or drug dealers". I don't believe most African-Americans people are any of those things. I have experience living in the deep south, where I was born and raised, growing up with large black populations in the schools I attended and the little league teams I played on. I have spent most of my adult life in the midwest, where, well, let's just say things are a lot more monochrome. I don't know anyone in either place that thinks all (or even most) African-American people are "dogfighters, thugs or drug dealers". Yes, there are small minded people in this world who do think that. Of course there are. But I think they're a minority (no pun intended).

But look again at the quote above. Supporting a dogfighter, thug and, well drug-user is the method many are choosing to employ to show that Vick is not a good representative for African Americans. It seems to me that the best way to take a stand against a stereotype is to condemn those who embody that stereotype. Unwavering support doesn't help the cause.

Hope that Vick makes good on his second chance. Absolutely. But acknowledge that to this point, he isn't living up to the image the community wants to project. Admit that he isn't being mistreated; not by the NFL, the Falcons or the legal system. Admit he's in need of redemption. Then hope that he earns it.

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