ESPN will be hosting a “Town Hall Meeting” to discuss former Atlanta Falcons QB, Michael Vick and all of the events surrounding his involvement in illegal dog fighting. This topic has been discussed in many forums and continues to provide fodder for corporations, non-profits and individuals with well-defined agendas. Vick is being referred to as “a polarizing figure” by ESPN. During the height of the media frenzy, Vick was often called “the most polarizing figure in the history of the city of Atlanta.” That’s heady praise for a Negro in a city which has been ruled by so many heavy-handed white supremacists. It is a testament to the progress of “race relations” that a vilified Black man could supplant vile and capricious white leaders and citizens who unleashed the full fury of the state to rip the economic base out of Black Atlanta. Research on the seemingly innocuous practice of white flight raises questions on the economic consequences of “conditional Southern hospitality.” Just as it was in the 1950’s, this is about “freedom of association.” Even if it costs half a million dollars.
(Don’t get it twisted. This is no lament over segregation. After all, it’s not as bad in the South as it is in the North. More importantly, however, I do not find that residential intregation trumps systematic, honest fiscal and tax policy reform as a long-term, replicable solution. Short hand: living next to white folks is not the balm you’ve been seeking – another post, another time.)
One of the “polarizing” questions is sure to be whether or not Michael Vick was singled out by federal authorities for prosecution. The question cannot be answered by looking at the practices of the federal government in this particular case. The ESPN producers will have to do the research into the international practice of dogfighting. This multi-billion dollar international activity is arguably more popular in Italy and Japan (among Mafia and Yakuza types, according to certain sources) than it is in the United States. Moreover, dog fighting is not restricted to the Black South or the urban North. Dog fighting was, historically, a sport for the wealthy – and, by extension was “legal.” It’s barbarism was an acceptable aspect of “the game” in this pre-Lassie society. Things have changed. It’s not a felony everywhere. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s a misdemeanor.
To answer the question of fairness, ESPN will need to do more than hand out microphones to “blacks and whites” for two hours. Given the recent arrests of Shaquanda Cotton in Texas and six young men in Jena, Louisiana, shaping the context for discussing fairness will be as hard as walking a craggy beach in bare feet. This is not an easy discussion – and it is flawed from its inception. After all, the REAL ISSUE with respect to this case isn’t even Michael Vick.
The issue is the split perceptions in the out-sized outrage of “whites” with respect to Black violations of law, code or creed, while simultaneously turning a blind eye and deaf ear to “white” violations of the same. The issue is the manner in which the court of public opinion reinforces (or at least seeks to reinforce) the idea that Black folk are 2nd class citizens.
If folks WAKE UP before Tuesday, the BLACK participants should not answer a single question about Michael Vick or his friends or the “Southern culture” or hip hop or DMX or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or anything posed by folks seeking to change the topic. There was no Mark Chmura Divide. There is no Chris Benoit Divide. There is no Bill Maas Divide. There was no Marv Albert Divide. There is a Barry Bonds Divide. There is an OJ Simpson Divide. There is no Rick Ankiel Divide. There is a Donovan McNabb Divide…but no Brett Favre Divide. There was a Ty Willingham Divide, but no George O’Leary Divide. There is no Charlie Weis Divide.
The topic is the same as it ever was…”white” folks in America are absolutely enmeshed in the supremacist psychosis which blinds them and anesthetizes them to “in group” criminality. It may be that that isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it may be the psychopathic need to deny the disease actually exists. Perhaps it is, after all, unavoidable that a people whose greatest national heroes were invariably hypocrites, masochists and pedophiles have no choice but to see the good in doped up wrestlers who kill themselves and their families.
If ESPN really wanted to discuss “The Vick Divide,” they could host it in Forsythe County, Georgia and advertise it as a “whites-only meeting.” I’d buy popcorn for that.
As it stands, Tuesday is sure to be a waste of time. The audience should expect to come away bruised and bloodied. I’ll pass on this inevitable minstrel fiasco.