Black Americans have a chance to make history tonight. They have a chance to send to message not only to Donald Sterling, the NBA and its owners. They have a chance to make a social, political and historical STATEMENT to black people around the world. “White America, we DO MATTER.” We DO have not only an athletic skill, BUT A VOICE. I understand the NBA did what it was expected to do in disciplining Sterling. However, even if Sterling is banned from all things NBA, haven’t we seen a story like this before? From the Paula Dean’s and the Don Imus’s of the world? Sure they lose their jobs, sponsorship’s, even hold press conferences to express their apologies. We are used to seeing this time and time again. Everything will eventually go back to normal. The political race baiting pundits will continue to race bait. The NBA players and groups like the NAACP will receive little “trinkets” that will benefit certain minority programs and (sigh) America will no longer have to deal with its REAL problem: inherent white supremacy.
I really didn’t want to do this blog because I didn’t want to be accused of being “pro-black,” or making this an issue of race. However, because we still have a covert system of systematic white supremacy, I believe this situation, fits the bill. What would you say after someone went to prison, served their time and have made efforts to rehabilitate themselves to become progressive members in society? The only people who know the nature of their crimes is the employer, public record, family members and friends. Their criminal record will follow them as long as they live, but it’s between them and their future employers. However, for Michael Vick, it follows him everywhere-even after he’s showed contrition, remorse, participated in charities, (and continues to do so) and public speaking events denouncing his past criminal acts. Vick continues to be haunted, scrutinized and villianized by the American dog worshiping culture to the extent they want to make sure he never forgets his crimes. Oh, if we could list the American crimes this country wants YOU to forget. Can you smell the hint of hypocrisy here?
Since Michael Vick signed his 1-year deal with his new team, The New York Jets, there has been a petition (which has now reached over 20,000 signatures) on Change.org by SUNY Cortland wanting Vick banned from practicing on their campus due to his 2007 conviction on felony dog charges. Even though this petition probably won’t work, what I want to deal with is the ongoing cancerous group of people who continue to spew hatred towards Vick after he served his time. This isn’t just about this petition, but several others that are infringing Vick from getting on with his life, even to the point that these people are petitioning against EVERY public endeavor Vick is apart of. There are petitions to ban a speaking engagement, his clothing line and his endorsement deal, which are all available on Change.org website. Of those petitions (his clothing line called V7) is being targeted by these people, even though the proceeds is going towards a Boys and Girls Club in Philadelphia as charitable work. I mean, how do you petition that?! No one, (not even the court who convicted him) is excusing him of his heinous crimes in dog fighting. However, the continuous efforts to assault this man calling him everything from a “psychopath,” to a “murderer,” and other numerous vehement expletives, are completely out of line.
People want to look at the fact that he’s ‘privileged’ because they only see him as a professional football player. The professional athlete always seems to get the quote on quote “second chance,” when they get into trouble off the field. They are expected to be role models, while other entertainers are given excuses by the hypocritical hopeful: the American public. What is happening to Vick is just another extension of the criminal justice system, but it’s disguised by free speech and the court of public opinion (even though public opinion is based on people who get away with their crimes). If Michael Vick wasn’t Michael Vick, he would still have a hard time finding employment due to his felony record. These so-called Americans are basically policing Vick’s every move and I wonder how these efforts have affected him psychologically. But I thought this was America, you know, “the land of second chances?” Sure you’re right, Ray-Ray, sure you’re right.
I understand people have an affinity for animals and in this case dogs, but where is this same passion for the 3,700 babies who are aborted everyday? Can’t hear you America? Maybe because you call it a woman’s right to “Pro-Choice.” Well, what about the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals commonly know as PETA, whose founder Ingrid Newkirk, has admitted to euthanizing animals. So America, where’s the outcry? The petitions? The constant public policing of this organization? Let me help you; there is none. Yet seven years later, the animal lover’s continue to remind not just Vick, but America, that Vick still doesn’t deserve a second chance? But the second chance I speak of is the rehabilitation for Michael Vick; not just as a football player, but as a human being.
Have you noticed that some people in the public eye receive a higher level of accountability and responsibility, while others seemingly do not? A few weeks ago, Bill O’Reilly on his show The O’Reilly Factor, interviewed Co-Founder of Def Jam, Russell Simmons about a raunchy video made by R&B-Pop superstar Beyoncé called “Partition.” O’Reilly, who has made it known his disgust for Hip hop music, asked Simmons an assortment of questions about how explicit the video and the lyrics were to the song in lieu of the fact it can influence young girls to become promiscuous. Simmons, who was trying to promote his book “Success Through Stillness,” was caught off guard by O’Reilly’s barrage of questions and pretty much defended Beyoncé’s actions as an artist. O’Reilly, as you can expect, was not pleased by Simmons response by implying “How can you call this art?” He later went on to say that artists have a moral responsibility to their fans about the content they put out, and I actually found my self agreeing with…..Bill O’Reilly? Everyone knows O’Reilly loves to play these blame game tactics (mainly because he’s a bigot), especially with the black community throwing around statistics as a way to antagonize African-Americans. Well, after this interview with Simmons, the media created a storm with everyone giving their two cents about O’Reilly’s tactics and basically defending Beyoncé. I decided to wait until this story die down a bit to give MY two cents, and my critique may or may not shock you.
Before I begin let me be perfectly clear, I, in NO WAY endorse Bill O’Reilly, his show, or Fox News, thank you. The Beyoncé situation has raised some pertinent questions about are entertainers really looked to as role models anymore? Well, we certainly know professional athletes are because as soon as they get into trouble with the law, their defense in court is “I’m so and so and I’m a pillar in my community, kids look up to me, I’m A ROLE MODEL, I volunteer to this organization etc..” So is being a role model only convenient when it applies to someone who is in trouble with the law? Or maybe, just maybe, it only applies to men? I guess the prestige of public image only applies to politicians and preachers? Correction, male politicians and preachers.
Whether its Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Housewives of whoever, Love & Hip-Hop of whatever. Black women the writing is on the wall. The media have reincarnated old caricatures (Jezebel, Sapphire) stereotypes and have joined the two and what we have on television is the finished product. Sure we’ve had some African-American women write-up petitions involving certain television shows, such as Bravo’s Married to Medicine and Oxygen’s All My Babies Mama’s, which they claim depicted African-American women in a negative light. However, where’s the petitions or the outrage when it comes to your favorite performer, who hasn’t made a clear distinction between classy and ratchet. Don’t tell me ‘there’s many facets to a woman.’ I understand that. But does all facets need to be on display for all America to see?
I may never know what O’Reilly’s true intent was for calling out Beyoncé. Honestly, he could have invited her to his show and asked her the very questions he inquired from Simmons. With that being said, he was right because many young girls do look up to Beyoncé and others like her. However, what is hypocritical is that we as adults pick n choose who gets a pass for raunchiness and who doesn’t. It’s like saying what is”hood” versus what is “ghetto.” They both mean the same thing which is bad! Sadly, Beyoncé represents most African-American women because she is not held accountable because even in her “ratchetness,” there is no rebuke. There is no petitions. There is no outcry. Just shock value and gossip-and personal invites for birthday parties by Mrs. Obama herself. Society views the African-American family (unfortunately) through its Mother and if the Mother is ‘ratchet,’ then what can you expect from her children? Remember, you are what you eat, but you reproduce who you are. So when people ask is Beyoncé and people like her role models? I say no, because most of our parents aren’t role models anymore either.