53. Non-Blacks Who Want to Understand …

… Why Some Black People Support Michael Vick

Ed’s Note: The idea of this isn’t to get under your skin, but to get you out of it while hopefully provoking thought. Work with me people.

To the People Who Want to Know Why Some Black People Support Michael Vick:

Settle in for a few. We’re going far to the left only to make a sharp right. Then I’m going to bore down on the target — you — at 90 mph. You may not agree, but you’ll know where I’m coming from, which is often most important. So get your caffeine of choice, wake up and open your mind …

Let’s pretend that white people are lions and blacks are tigers (you can associate other races with other cats in the animal kingdom if you feel so led). Lions and tigers are part of the same species, just like all human races are. But there’s one area where these cats aren’t nearly as advanced as humans: Tigers don’t run in packs of lions all that often.

liger3

Two people with a liger

Don’t get me wrong, there are Ligers  — a mix of the two. But in reality, tigers run with tigers and lions with lions.

Same can be said for the species with dominion on this Earth. That said, there’s an innate reason why the 23 blacks enrolled in a Biology I class with 500 other students are more likely to befriend each other. We, people in general, tend to venture toward our likenesses. That’s not deep. It’s common sense.

Hispanics do it. Asians split amongst themselves (as do blacks and Hispanics), and most non-Asians can’t even point out what differentiates the Japanese from the Chinese (*raises hand* because I can’t). So do white people. Think about it. There are Italian-American, Irish-American, Russian-American and Jewish neighborhoods scattered throughout the different metropolises of our nation.

Our frozen melting pot pie, in some ways, is taking forever to thaw out. It’s because we yearn to find people like us who share our morals, political views, values and even music tastes. It’s who we are, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. But you should consider embracing people who don’t look like you. That’s what makes America America, right?

That said, if you have any real black friends, you probably have an understanding as to why you shouldn’t give the side-eye to blacks who support Ron Mexico bka Mike Vick. If you don’t, I’ll be that one black friend. The following is from me to you:

All people — black or otherwise — don’t necessarily have the same affinity for pets as you likely do. Some people see animals as animals, like the rodent you might set a trap for in your garage. Or better yet, the horse or greyhound you might have put down because it can’t run well enough to become the cashcow you desire it to be.

Capiche?

I’ll query you more directly: If Michael Vick is convicted to a year-plus in prison for killing pit bulls that don’t fight well, why is it considered to be lawfully right to “put down” greyhounds or thoroughbreds that can’t run as fast as you want them to gallop? It’s the same moral flaw.

Mike Vick and his lawyer.

Mike Vick and his lawyer.

Mike Vick made a major mistake in starting Bad Newz Kennels. And most black people don’t support what he did. We don’t back his frivolous spending before he went to Leavenworth, either. But some black people do support other blacks like Vick. They want to see our people do their best, and rise from trying circumstances. Why? Because “Plymouth Rock landed on” our ancestors a few hundred years ago.

Do I have to bring up the tried-and-true race card swipes to make that make sense? You know: Slavery, Jim Crow, Plessy v. Ferguson, Lynching, Gaines v. Missouri, Brown v. The Board of Education, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Martin, Malcolm, Four Little Girls, Crack Cocaine, Rodney King, the disparaging number of black men in jail v. black men on college campuses, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah … (Register reads: Insufficient funds, RACE CARD MAXED OUT). I shouldn’t have to, should I?

I digress.

Vick should not be PETA’s focus. PETA should work toward making it illegal to put an animal down because it can’t run fast enough. If that were the case with humans we’d be putting down a few quite a few American sprinters after Usain Bolt’s performance at the 2008 Olympics.

Makes no sense, right? Why? Because we’d be killing people for idiotic and barbaric reasons. This isn’t “Gladiator.” Why would you kill someone for being second best? If that were the case, think of who all we’d lose: Phil Mickleson (Tiger Woods), Venus Williams (Serena), State Football Championship Runners-Up (The team singing that popular Queen song), [name a boxer] (Floyd Mayweather), Elisabeth Hasselbeck (Joy Behar), Dave Chappelle (Chris Rock), Sarah Palin (Tina Fey), Sen. John Kerry and former VP Al Gore (W.), Sen. John McCain (President Barack Obama) Jennifer Aniston (Angelina Jolie) and LeBron James (Kobe Bryant). The list could go on and on.

And like Chris Rock said, you best be glad black people stereotypically hate cold weather. Imagine an alive LeBron on ice skates? Give LeBron three years, and you’d have to add Sidney Crosby to the “second best” list. Seriously though, I’d be curious to see the outcome of LeBron versus Sid. Sid is dope with that puck in tow, but … LeBron… is… King.

What if hockey player LeBron broke things off with is longtime girlfriend/baby’s mama — I’m not suggesting that — and decided to date one of super metrosexual/tough guy Sean Avery’s exes? Avery wouldn’t say a damn word about King James dating his “sloppy seconds,” would he?

As the true King of Comedy once said, “that tiger would go tiger” on that lion cub.

Forever over-thinking this one,

Damon

P.S. “Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” ~ Maximus, “Gladiator”

UPDATE: I do need to make one Race Card debit. Click the link and make the appropriate parallels to the letter … Blacks in Horse Racing. I first read about this in New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden’s book, “Forty Million Dollar Slaves.” I highly recommend it.

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45 responses to “53. Non-Blacks Who Want to Understand …

  1. I swear this is one of the realest letters you have written. I have stated so many times before that I wish others would just try to ‘get’ why our people feel the way we do about certain things in society and what put the root there in the first case to cause our feelings like this to grow. But, alas as has been stated before, no one ever will…

    • If people choose to get it, then they’ll get it. If they don’t …. *crickets* … that’s life. Thanks for throwing this toward the top of your favs. It’s one of mine, too. I thought this one through a few dozen times (as you already know).

  2. I can’t say I support M. Vick because I try not to support stupidity and I think what he did was stupid for a variety of reasons. I do however have sympathy for him.

    I have sympathy because I know the feeling that you’re being treated unfairly and extra harsh as compared to other people and the only difference you can see is the color of your skin. I don’t like using the race card and I try to avoid it when possible but what do you do when you constantly see that the consequences of ones actions are often different based on their race?

    • @tam: I had another 400 or 500 words of ramblings race card swipes that I pulled out of this starting with Martha Stewart (although I do love her show). … But it pulled away from the PETA point and the simple idea of standing behind people that look like you, which are the major focuses of this letter …

      I don’t support Vick’s actions. But I do want to see him land on his feet and get his life together for himself and his children. I support that for any person on this Earth, though.

  3. I don’t usually have a whole heck of a lot to say about Michael Vick.

    In fact, I am actually going to sit here and write (while short) what I feel about it.

    First, If Michael Vick is convicted to a year-plus in prison for killing pit bulls that don’t fight well, why is it considered to be lawfully right to “put down” greyhounds or thoroughbreds that can’t run as fast as you want them to gallop? It’s the same moral flaw.

    This is absolutely correct. How come a large corporation can do this but the “little” guy cannot.

    Here’s my second thing and where my potentially big problem comes in.

    *deposits monies on the RACE CARD*

    Why is it that others value the life of a dog more than that of a black man?

    Yes, that’s correct…I feel that putting the man in jail and taking away his livelihood was just as bad as if you had shot him in the leg…or worse.

    This might have come out a little harsh, but can anyone see where I am going with this.

    • I vibe with what you’re saying, but it’s not even necessarily a black life … it’s a human life, period.

      It could have been a “redneck,” a Hispanic, an Asian, or a Muslim … something similar would have likely happened. They made an example out of Vick because they had the ability to do so. Not necessarily because he is black.

      Some black people support him moreso because he’s black. We want to see him bounce back. That’s one of the points.

      One of the others is this: Why value something (an animal) you have dominion over more than a human life? It makes little sense.

      • Honestly, I am glad you could feel me on this.

        It’s just a little strange to me that we can let killers, murderers and child molesters off the hook but kill a dog and go to jail for a year?

        Makes little sense….or none at all.

  4. Mike should have definitely put his money to better use, but a YEAR in PRISON for fighting dogs? To me, that’s a little extreme. The Chinese resturants that serve dog masquerading as beef and broccoli don’t get prison time.

    Roy Jones, Jr fights chickens, nobody says a word. Why? Because chicken tastes good. America’s fascination with dogs is why Vick is behind bars. It’s the same reason why horse meat can’t be served here, but horse sashimi is widely available in Japan (and tastes good, too).

    At any rate, I think Black folks stuck by Mike Vick because it’s what we do. Just like we stuck by OJ the first time. And just like some of “ya’ll” stick by Michael Jackson and his penchant for kids. All of which, by the way, make the R. Kelly abandonment more puzzling.

    My bad for rambling…. Vick to the Raiders in 2009!!

    • @offdwall: Everybody sticks by MikeJack. Dude made too much money in a four-hour span….

      The one I’ll never get is R. Kelly. It’s a little different when there is video evidence, and people still support him. I jumped off that boat after the Happy People album. never to return.

      And do not give Al Davis any ideas. I don’t need Vick’s redemption tour coming to Kansas City once a week. That would not be tight … I already have enough stress as it is. lol.

  5. @Damon – gotcha, this letter is focusing more on the Peta/supporting our own than the Race issue….

    I work for an animal health company, we make medicines to help save, improve and prolong the lives of animals. I’ve met some crazy people that spend outrageous amounts of money to extend the life of their dog by a few months. Did you see the story about the man that jumped in the water to save his dog from a shark? WTF! These types of people feel like their pets are their children so to them fighting dogs is like hosting a death match with a bunch of kids.

    I love animals but animals are ANIMALS. They are a species of lower intelligence (well lower than MOST people) and their lives should not be worth as much or more than human life. I could go on and on about PETA and how they are full of crap (google: PETA kills). The point is, society has a lot more important issues that we should be focusing on. If more people cared about other people as much as some people care for their pets then this world might be a lot better place.

    • @tam: I get where you’re coming from … but have you ever lost a pet that you care about?

      I promise you, it’s an experience/feeling that’s hard to understand until you loose one that you’re close to. Now, I agree with you, I’m not jumping in a pool with a shark to save my dog.

      My dog, whenever i get one, will be smarter than that … I hope.

      But also, the letter has three main points. The first of which I keep forgetting to mention in these comments: 1) Embrace your culture, but get out of your own skin and learn other perspectives. 2) Understand why some blacks support Vick. 3) Know that animals aren’t human/The PETA argument.

      And, as you undoubtedly know, animals are extremely important to this eco-friendly, green life that we need to be living. Without them, it would go haywire.

      • @Damon: I’ve lost several pets and I cried for days each time. I still tear up when I think about how my first dog got hit by a car when I was 8.

        I understand exactly how important animals are which is why I volunteer at animal shelters, support events that raise money for the conservation of wild animals and try to do my part to keep the earth healthy for humans and animals. I’m just saying that the lives of companion animals (animals traditionally kept as pets) aren’t as valuable as human lives, IMO.

        To point number 2: I understand why some blacks support Vick, I just hope that the people that support him understand why they support him. I don’t agree with blindly supporting someone just because they look like you.

        Oh, and I love the movie Gladiator, it is definitely in my top 25.

        • @tam: Gladiator is top 10 for me. Too much good dialogue for me, and an impeccable story … Sorta like Job in the Old Testament to me.

          I figured you’d understood the animal loss thing.

          On your second point: I think every Michael Vick Atlanta Falcons jersey should be burned. … or better yet recycled into clothing for the homeless. …

          There’s no reason anyone under 18 should ever wear one. And anyone older than that who does … you might as well be wearing an OJ Simpson throwback jersey.

          • @Damon: Yeah! I mean that’s like how I saw this guy with a Rae Carruth jersey on recently. So you think it is cool to rock the jersery of someone who had his girlfriend murdered? SMH.

    • You know you make very valid points. I mean, I too am an animal lover and I was aquainted with someone years ago that used to fight dogs and he made alot of money from that. I was furious with him all the time for it and all he would say is that they’re just dogs. I do think that animals should have rights but it needs to be fair and balanced and like Damon said, PETA needs to protect race horses, and race dogs the same way they try to so-called protect fighting dogs. I do think that Mike Vick was stupid for what he was doing, main reason because he was already the highest paid NFL player at the time of his arrest. It’s not like he needed some extra money on the side or something. However, I do think that race played a very big part of his demise (and trust me, I decided to shut down my race account and cut the card up a long time ago) but I can’t ignore the obvious attempts to make an example out of him and make him appear like a ruthless thug. Now I hear about PETA trying to have a hand in deciding whether or not he’s a reformed man….in my opinion that’s treating him like an animal…go figure…

    • Also, let’s not even get into the horrible world of hunting for sport, which involves armed men going into the woods in order to brutally kill innocent dear, birds, bears, moose, etc. not necessarily to eat them but just for fun. Where is the cracking down on these ruthless thugs????? Oh oops, I’m sorry I forgot, typically the people that do this kind of sport don’t have melanin in their skin….go figure again…

      • @jlbd: yo, there are mad black people who hunt. You’d be shocked. It’s probably not in proportion to the percentage of blacks in the US, but we hunt, too. … Sometimes, it’s just humans.

        did I really just write that? oops. No, the hunting thing is another mystery all together. You’re right.

        • Oh I know blacks hunt. I had an uncle that had a big ol’ stag head hanging in his basement. He and other relatives of mine used to hunt, my point is that it’s not considered a poor man’s sport. Dog fighting is typically done in poor neighborhoods amongst minorities. As with hunting I’m sure there are whites that also dog fight, but the proportion is what you have to focus in on because there will always be exceptions….

      • I definitely agree with you on this point. IF you are going to eat and use the skin of the animal then I don’t have a huge problem with it because I don’t see it being that much different from me eating a hamburger (somebody had to kill that cow). But for those that just go into the woods with a high-powered rifle to just kill for the heck of it is some bullcrap. At least go out there with a bow and arrow and give the animals a slim chance of escaping.

        I do know a large group of hunters that do have melanin in their skin, I met them recently and was pretty surprised by it.

  6. They won’t get it cus they don’t want to get it. Vick will always be horrible because he messed with something they love. The hierarchy is simple. Black men can’t mess with 1) white women 2) dogs 3) white children.

    • @hostess: welcome to TMCY. Good comment. To the point. Something I know little about. lol. I do, but don’t choose that route via the blog.

      … your hierarchy is to the point, but why is it that so many black men get away with all three? OJ, some other random dog owners, Mike Jack … lol …

      No, I see your point.

      • But it’s the outrage I’m talking about. When a white woman goes missing, particularly a blonde, all hell breaks loose. People are undone. As for OJ, they are STILL harping on that. But think of the numbers of men who have been lynched, jailed, etc. who didn’t have OJ’s loot.

        When a dog gets killed, all hell breaks loose. People are undone. Why? Because dogs are members of their families.

        Notice that the kids were third?

        • You know I was playing with you. But I’m glad you broke it down further.

          And yes, I notice that the kids were third. Go back and read Letter No. 17, somewhere around the third or fourth graph when I say something about Obama talking about kids/parents. …

          That’s the biggest problem with this country — more so than a lacking moral compass. People don’t know how to be parents, and more important, don’t care to learn how to be good ones.

  7. thecomebackgirl

    “Vick should not be PETA’s focus. PETA should work toward making it illegal to put an animal down because it can’t run fast enough”

    I NEVER thought about it like that…you make a brilliant case. BUT to play devils advocate (and I didn’t read the other comments yet so I may be duplicating sentiment) BUT…big pit bulls and other angry dogs are the BLACK MAN’s pet. Black people generally (particularly poorer black folks) LOVE aggressive pets..And as soon as we went into the “race horse” industry there might also be a peta problem.

    • @thecbg: I was going to play with your D.E., but then I got to the last sentence … and it made me think of this:

      http://horseracing.about.com/library/weekly/aa012499.htm

      I read a book a few years back that chronicled some of what’s in that brief link. Blacks got kicked out of horse racing because it became profitable. …

      • thecomebackgirl

        “Most famous of the black jockeys by far is Isaac Murphy who is considered one of the greatest riders in American history. He was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and won an astonishing 44% of all races he rode.”

        WOW..i gotta step my black history up. I never knew this.

        • Right … It forces you to think about this on a whole different level, huh? Great history that’s little known.

          I stumbled upon in a book called 40 Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden that I read a year or two ago. You may hate sports, but it’s a black sports history book that I’d recommend to anyone.

      • Wow, this is a really interesting link. Go figure, horse racing became more high profile and we were just looked at as the hired help….

  8. Me and my friends talked about this non stop when this all went down. White people got more upset about him killing some dogs than they often get about people killing other people. Making him out to be a monster and what not. Some of them were the same people who wear leather jackets and will tear up a steak dinner. (I’d have to include myself in both of those categories… but I never got all self righteous about Mike Vick killing dogs). I’m not saying I condone what Mike did, but I value the life of a person more than that of a dog any day.

    • @klysha: welcome. And you’re right, I value the human life way more than any animal, especially considering that most of us eat them as a form of survival. …

      Offdwall made a comment about people eating dogs in other countries earlier, it’s worth the read … if you didn’t see it already.

  9. Nice essay, but can you change “dethaw” to “thaw” or “defrost”? When I read “dethaw” it took me completely out of and otherwise compelling article.

  10. The analogy of dog-fighting as opposed to putting down greyhounds is wrong on so many levels. For one thing, all the greyhounds did was run. They weren’t forced or trained to fight other greyhounds and endure the subsequent pain.
    Second, greyhounds are put down humanely, with a simple injection. Vick killed dogs by hanging and electric shock. Surely you can see the difference.

    • @hondo: I can see the difference. It’s a good point.

      But the one I’m making is this: killing an animal because it can’t perform is not right. Any animal — dog, cat, horse, parrot, tiger, lion …

  11. Just because corporations kill animals doesn’t make it ok for Vick to do so; they’re both ethically repulsive. Opposing the destruction of greyhounds and horses, and opposing the actions of Michael Vick, are not mutually exclusive propositions.

  12. Quick addition: there’s also no denying that the media coverage of Vick has been far more omnipresent, and far more sensationalistic, than the (pretty much nonexistent) coverage of greyhound and horse abuse/euthanasia. A dog fighting case involving a wealthy and prominent athlete gives the media more opportunities to bemoan the way that “those people” act…

  13. Disclaimer: I’m a “Non-Black” who wants to understand.

    Thanks for the article. Very well done.

    Personally, I was OK seeing Mr. Vick go to jail, since he did break many laws (not just killing dogs). However, as far as I am concerned he has paid his debt to society and I hope he is able to return to football and succeed there again.

    It has been mentioned several times in the comments about the value of human life vs. animal life, or more specifically Mr. Vick’s life vs. a dog. There should be no question that Mr. Vick’s life is infinitely more valuable than a dogs. That’s not really the argument though. Mr. Vick was sent to jail for breaking numerous laws, not because someone deemed he was less valuable than a dog. Undoubtedly, there are some idiots that may feel this way, but we don’t need to have our conversations at the lowest common denominator.

    What does trouble me (as a white person) is the inequity of outrage for certain crimes. Someone already mentioned the case of a blonde girl that goes missing vs. a girl of another race. (Jon Benet Ramsey for instance.) We should all be horrified when a crime is committed against a child. Not just the ones that look like us.

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling, but this is a great discussion. Thanks for the insight.

  14. I don’t know Michael Vick personally, and I wasn’t with him or his associates when “Bad Newz Kennels” was up and running. So I can’t say for sure what his motivations or mind-set were, or how truly he has reformed.

    However, I have been involved in a number of dog-fighting investigations, including gathering evidence on, and prosecuting, dog-fighting rings. And I have seen, people strangle, burn, slash, and shoot dogs who don’t fight they way they were supposed to. And I can say, without any shadow of a doubt, the following about every fighting dog executioner I have ever seen:

    They enjoy it.

    They enjoy inflicting pain on a living creature with a blade, an axe, or a rope. They enjoy lighting dogs on fire and watching them burn. There is something about the ability to make an animal squeal in pain that appeals to them in a very natural and chemical way. And to me, that’s a lot different from killing racehorses who aren’t fast enough, with much more serious consequences for the safety of society.

    That’s not to say that Mr. Vick himself is someone who takes/took pleasure in torturing dogs. But if he isn’t, he’d be the first I’d ever seen.

    • You make an extremely salient argument that I humbly agree with…

      There’s no way to condone what he did or what any other dogfighting owner is illegally doing now.

      But in the essence of it, murder is murder. Whether it’s done for the enjoyment or pleasure or it’s done in cold blood (a great book) for the love of money/winning horse or dog races.

      That’s what I’m going for. Vick deserved what he got. 100 grand. I just wish that was the case with more of the bigwig crooks and morally bankrupt people in this world. Maybe it’s coming.

      Or maybe it already has? (think: Wall Street).

  15. Okay…I have said this before. Yes, this, like everything else that happens in America (land of the free, but home of the slaves) could be made into a racial issue. But to me, before it even reaches race, it is wrong…meaning if I heard of someone who was doing some “American Psycho” type mutilation to some dogs/deer/horses, I would be afraid of that person. If I came over to your house, chillin’ with you and your dog out on your balcony, and then you wrapped a noose around your dog’s neck and pushed him off the side, I would seriously have questions about your sanity. There is a reason why torturing animals is viewed as a precursor to serial killer pathology, and putting your horse down because he is injured is not. I say all of that to say this…torturing an animal to death and shooting it because it has bad leg are two totally different things. Torture…euthanasia. Taking joy in an animal’s suffering…taking an animal out of its’ misery.

    So, do I think that dog-racing and horse racing are completely humane? No. Do I think that a tighter rein (no pun intended) should be kept on animal torture in other realms as well? Yes. Do I think that the disgust I have for M. Vick’s actions are because of some crazy love for dogs? No, because I don’t view dogs as members of the family. Do I think that racism is alive an well in America? Yes. Do I think that racism has accounted for some people’s reactions to the Michael Vick drama? Yes. Do I support Mike Vick’s torture of animals because we live in a nation riddled with racism? No. Do I support Mike Vick because “everybody’s doin’ it”? No.

    One of the biggest catchphrases people have used for supporting Michael Vick is…”this is a true testament to the fact that we value dog lives more than human lives.” To me, that makes no sense. I find it hard to believe that Vick would get that light of a sentence if he electrocuted humans and hanged them in his back yard.

  16. “Do I support Mike Vick’s torture of animals because we live in a nation riddled with racism? No. Do I support Mike Vick because “everybody’s doin’ it”? No.”

    @k-money: Your quoted statement represents my sentiments. I think I tried to avoid the idea of saying “I think” an animal is just an animal in the letter itself. I understand the attachment to a pet.

    I really just wanted to point out the differing viewpoint from a logical basis, and not some “oh they’re just animals” line.

    There’s no comparison that can be made to torturing animals. But putting down dogs or horse because they can’t run fast isn’t all that great, either. … And that’s happening just as often if not more than what happened on Vick’s Virginia property. …

    I’d be curious to see what you think about capital punishment in comparison to putting animals down … I know that seems nuts, but take it there.

  17. Everyones got a point but a year is way too long

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