two sides to every story.

there is a fascinating article in espn magazine about why many black atlantans are standing behind michael vick.

vick has been roundly condemned both here on this site and in most of the general media and even from progressive-leaning publications like creative loafing. any defense of vick has been pretty much roundly condemned (an example here courtesy of the atlmalcontent.)

interviewing a broad range of black leaders in atlanta from juanita and kwame abernathy to frank ski to joseph lowery, the espn article traces the history of black/white relations in atlanta and attempts to frame the controversy over vick in that context.

an example –

The Vick montage continues on the television. More experts. More people screaming for his head. More gory details of the death of the dogs, death by electrocution and by bodyslam. Before Vick first came to Atlanta, she hadn’t cared enough to watch football. There was something about finally having an African-American quarterback in town that excited her. Maybe Juanita felt like it was a small realization of the work she, Ralph and their friends had done.

“I come home from church,” she says, “and I sit in my stadium in the middle of my bed and play ball. Or I will come up here and sit in my easy chair and play ball. So nobody can criticize Michael Vick.”

There is a connection there. Vick was a symbol for Black Atlanta, and now he’s gone. That troubles many in the community. Not everyone, but many, especially those who have felt racism in their own lives and find themselves attuned to it. Yes, he’s created many of his own problems, but the lens for viewing his problems was created many years ago. And so the question arises: Are people like Juanita Abernathy stuck in the past or are they the only ones seeing the situation with eyes wide open?

it’s a fascinating piece and i highly recommend reading it. while it certainly didn’t change my opinion of vick, it did give me a better appreciation for why some have stood behind him

h/t to deborah a for suggesting via suggest a story.

9 Comments so far

  1. Seth (unregistered) on August 10th, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

    I was just going to post on this – having heard it mention on 790 The Zone this morning.

    CL’s blog also has an interesting post today about the outsourcing to China of a King Memorial statue that speaks to some similar threads.


  2. Seth (unregistered) on August 10th, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

    I was just going to post on this – having heard it mention on 790 The Zone this morning.

    CL’s blog also has an interesting post today about the outsourcing to China of a King Memorial statue that speaks to some similar threads.

    http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/freshloaf/2007/08/10/the-king-memorial-outsourced-to-china/


  3. Deb A (unregistered) on August 10th, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

    Thanks for posting this!

    As to the King Memorial, I do think they have a point about the imported granite from China..that is crazy, since MLK is from Georgia and we are known for our granite.

    I think they have less of a leg to stand on when it comes down to the sculptor. The question shouldn’t be who is most qualified, but which design is best. After all, the Vietnam memorial was done by someone who, prior to it, had very little experience. But it is a wonderful piece. To say a black person should be first in line to do this is a bit of reverse racism and is especially ironic when it has to do with a project from MLK.

    And frankly his last statements make him sound like a loon.
    “They selected an Asian from China, a country that has killed millions of their own people. They don’t believe in Christianity and they don’t believe in freedom.”

    Just because he is from China doesn’t mean HE killed all those people nor does it mean he doesn’t believe in freedom. And what does the fact that the sculptor may or may not be christian have to do with it?? Sorry, but any chance of agreement with him went out the window when I read that.


  4. roxie (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 7:45 am

    Please, let us never, ever use the term “reverse racism” ever again. I am dedicated to removing that blight from the English language.

    Racism is racism; the race of perpatrator or victim matters not.


  5. roxie (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 7:45 am

    Please, let us never, ever use the term “reverse racism” ever again. I am dedicated to removing that blight from the English language.

    Racism is racism; the race of perpatrator or victim matters not.


  6. Joe (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

    People continue to try and make this a black vs. white issue. I am a fan of Michael Vick as a QUARTERBACK, not as a BLACK QUARTERBACK…and I for one have not convicted him in any way and urge everyone, of all races, to reserve judgement until it is decided in court. Unless someone has first-hand knowledge of Vick’s day to day activities, there is no way of knowing if he has had anything to do with dog fighting.

    The reason so much public opinion is leaning toward Vick’s guilt is because of the large amount of evidence against him and the number of eye witnesses that have turned against him. It certainly looks like he’s guilty, but I am definitely not making a decision until his day in court. His guilt in the media is because of the amount of evidence against him, not because he’s black. Good God, I hope society has come further than that…


  7. james (unregistered) on August 13th, 2007 @ 9:18 am

    joe – i think the gist of the article was not that this is a black or white issue or that vick’s treatment has anything to do with him being black.

    the point of the article was to try to present an understanding how many americans can believe that it is.

    subtle difference but an important one and i think that even though i believe it’s not a black or white issue, having a better understanding of why some do is a good thing.


  8. Reco (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

    Normally I’m not one for a whole of blogging although I’m in sales so
    I better brand myself somehow, but I typed this all on my BlackBerry
    and it took forever. So here it is, in all its unedited
    glory…straight from the heart.

    I am really, really disturbed after reading this. …I sometimes
    forget that people who perpetrated lynchings and cold-blooded murders
    in the name of the Klan are still running around free!

    That chills me! We’re not talking about something ancient here. This
    foolishness happened 61 years ago.

    This city has always had a weird racial vibe. When I’m out in East
    Atlanta or some other “indie trendy” part of the city I’m always
    wondering why things are so segregated. I know it’s pretty much by
    choice now, but why is that?

    I wanna just think it’s the hip-hop generation versus the rocker
    generation but I’m not that na├»ve. …And while I don’t think lots of
    Atlantans are overtly racist (though some definitely are), it puzzles
    me.

    I can’t put my finger on it. Is it fear of each other? Is it
    cultural, class, maybe a mixture of all of the above.

    Take this Vick thing for instance… When I first heard about it, I
    thought, “Uh-Oh, Vick is really stupid”. However as the media began
    to pile on and then the pubic outcry, I became suspicious. Why the
    circus? Granted he is high profile but for as ghastly as dogfighting
    is, this is honestly the first time I have heard this much protest.

    …And then I had to confront myself. Why am I having these feelings
    that Vick is being treated unfairly by the media and at bars and
    watercoolers nationwide? The evidence does overwhelmingly seem to
    point out that he at least had knowledge of what was going on at his
    house in Virginia.

    That’s when WEB DuBois’ famous quote came to me. “Am I first black or
    am I first American”? To put this in some sort of context, DuBois was
    expressing his frustrations of always being perceived in the public as
    Black intellectual and never just intellectual.

    So in the back of my mind (and I’m sure the minds of many others)
    exists this question. I find myself (uncomfortably I might add)
    asking if the same scrutiny or even the investigation itself would
    occur if a white athlete were involved? While this might seem obvious
    to others and a silly thing to think, I live everyday with the
    memories of things that happened to my relatives who are still living.

    And while yes I am happy to acknowledge that while society has changed
    dramatically in the last 60 years, it was just a few months ago in
    East Atlanta Village that some idiot commented on me being with a
    white girl. Yes, not everyone is like this, but please forgive me
    when I am somewhat skeptically suspicious. I want to think he was
    jealous because my girlfriend was pretty, just as I want to think the
    Feds and public opinion are only after Vick because this was a heinous
    crime…


  9. Holly (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 7:55 am

    I started to formulate my response to the situation but the wind was taken out of my sails by James’ well reasoned thoughts. Taking it back to W.E.B. DuBois’ rumination, “”Am I first black or am I first American?” gets to the very crux of what this whole uproar is about. That statement could be applied to any and every segment of society–“Am I first while or am I first American?” “Am I first a member of the Christian Coalition or am I first American?” etc. etc. Arguably any sort of us vs. them situation existing between subsegments of the population sows the seeds of conflict. I would love to suggest a John Lennon sort of utopia, the “all you need is love,” paradigm, but I fear that as a whole we as a nation are fragmenting in quite the opposite direction.



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