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How To Raise Your Dog by Michael Vick

Michael Vick

How did someone like Michael Vick ever come to exist?

This was a question posed by Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post Dispatch this morning in an article titled “Vick is latest to take rap for the rap in our culture”.  To summarize, Mr. Burwell wants to know how another African American male with exceptional athletic talent and marketing appeal devolve into self destruction and became yet one more negative statistic in criminal culture.  Michael Vick has a gazillion dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons, endorsement contracts with Nike and other Fortune 100 companies, and now faces loosing it all over something as stupid and sordid as his grisly dog fighting business on the side.

It is Mr. Burwell’s theory that such behavior comes straight out of a gangsta rap video.  However, it should be pointed out that dog fighting is something relatively new to the black community.  Dog fighting is actually deeply rooted in English history.  For years it wasn’t taken very seriously and was considered a misdemeaner crime at best.  Now that more minorities are getting in on the sport, it is much easier to sell the activity as an evil menace to society.  But regardless of where it came from, dog fighting is indicative of the more common phenomenon of the lack of personal integrity found throughout modern American culture.

It is no longer of any importance for anyone in modern culture to maintain themselves with a sense of dignity or decency.  If your pockets are deep enough one can hire enough spin doctors, lawyers, publicist, and spokespersons and a positive perspective can be put on the most despicable of circumstances.  And if all that fails, big dollar lawyers can use the courts and laws designed to keep order and integrity in the general community to attack anyone whose agenda runs contrary to their client’s from any and every vulnerable angle to assure legal rights are protected at the expense and integrity of society at large.

Are we still talking about Mr. Vick?  Not really.  Because Mr. Vick took his backyard business venture to the road and across state lines it looks like the federal government prosecutors are going to be running this dog and falcon show.  Had the prosecution of this crime stayed within the jurisdiction of the state of Virginia, where Mr. Vick’s calls home, chances would’ve been very good that he would have either beaten the indictment, or settled for a fine amounting to a relative little less than a slap of the wrist.  But with the federal government’s penchant to protect federal laws, especially from black people (I wonder what would have happened if Scooter Libby was indicted for dog fighting), it looks most likely that the fleet footed quarterback is going down quicker than one of his dogs that lost in a fight.

The threat to society at large isn’t Michael Vick.  Mr. Vick is just another sellout who stands ready and willing to conform to whatever image his corporate handlers manipulate him to display.  The threats to society are the corporate malfeasants who work so diligently behind the scenes to identify what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior for so many African Americans.  Mr. Burwell wrote, “[T]he only way to appeal to the young demographic of the sneaker-buying public was to adopt the negative attitudes of the thug life popularized by black hip-hop/gangster rappers.”  The black hip-hop/gangsta rapper is a cliché developed in the laboratory of corporate media for sale to the image conscious public.  Marketing people have been employed to dissect the fundamentals of what attracts the often brain dead crowd and then kick it up a notch or two dozen to make it the ultimate “got to have it” product.

The image of gangsta rap is exactly what it is, an image.  It is a marketing tool to illustrate what is cool and what is unacceptable in the highly impressionable and appearance conscious American mainstream.  An image of a responsible and respectable African American male who moves heaven and hell to provide for his family and maintain his dignity as an obvious child of Africa is hardly ever portrayed in any type of media.  While people of African consciousness are sometimes depicted in corporate media, these characters are never meant to be taken seriously or respected as responsible individuals to serve as role models for our children.  African American males are left with stereotypical options for role models such as the colorful, loud mouth, always got something so funny to say or do in a serious situation like Michael Epps or the mean as hell gangsta depicted in a video with a ghetto costume pushing twenty-eight inch, chromed, wagon wheels on an Escalade, or the suave ladies man with nothing but sex on his mind at the player’s club.

Make no mistake; there is no excuse that Mr. Vick can offer that can legitimately explain his participation in this bazaar story.  But to say the buck stops with Mr. Vick is incorrect.  The gangsta rap culture that has become so insidious to our society is constantly being piped into all our houses and influences our behavior every single day through radio and television airwaves, through cable and DSL internet connections, and through the distribution of magazines and newspapers.  Gangsta rap music, videos, and images aren’t distributed from the back of Michael Vick’s house but through the marketing and promotional efforts of labels that are the darling of the corporately controlled music world.

Michael Vick has obviously made his own choice to risk his nine figure income to become a dime store thug.  He has no one to blame for his choice but himself.  Stupid is as stupid does.  A criminal is as a criminal does.  But, as amazing as this may sound it should be obvious that there is an influence on our collective conscious that makes the appeal of a gangsta lifestyle and a reputation for violence and objectionable behavior too attractive for even a dumb multimillionaire to avoid.

Saturday, July 21, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black Men, Black People, Justice, Racism


  1. This is the most painful picture I have seen, in looking at a lot of blogstories on dog-fighting. Unfortunately, many of our GI ‘dog faces’ serving in Iraq come back looking even worse. So, I really came here to say yes! Yes!! Bring those to justice who, in Shakespeare’s words, Let slip the dogs of war.

    Comment by Vigilante | Saturday, July 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. This is such an important piece, it is ridiculous that a whole nation would like to blame any and all problems on gangsta rap. I am just waiting for Bush/Cheney to blame the Iraq war on gangsta rappers. Also, Vigilante I read your site and I think that it is great, those two (expletive here)do need to be impeached. But, with our weaker than weak government officials, it will never happen, no matter how much we yell.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Saturday, July 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. ?? Blaming on gangsta rap? I think the blame goes to the seemingly lack of other influences. I agree with your assertions, but at the same time, I see so many black youth falling right in lockstep with the gangsta image. So who’s to blame? You actually expect us to beleive that Michael Vick was only dupped into this through a media complex….oh please. Your working way to hard to lay the blame on others while our black youth are far too willing to line up like lemmings for the latest gangsta fad. The gangsta posing is how much of America see’s us, and it embarasses me. But to say that our youth, our athletes, and others are merely dupped into it is ridiculous. In my opinion, they embrace and support it, from gang signs in school pictures, to 2000.00 set of wheel on a 500.00 car, to openly saying they are proud to be big pimpin’. Gangsta is glorified and is now synonomous with the way people view us, and that disgusts me. I live in Houston, and travel on business to many major cities, i can assure you, pit bulls are just another accepted part of the gansta uniform, and Michael Vick knew this. in my opinion, it was more important for him to be down with his brothers, than to follow the law…so much for that role model. My son has taken down his Vick posters. Your attempt at portraying him and all blacks as mindless victims, puppets of big biz, waiting to be influenced insults me. You know and I know that much of our community accepts, supports, and encourages the gangsta posing as some perverted cultural icon. It makes me sick. My son graduated from college last year, and never even considered becoming a thug “gangsta”, even though his freinds, and thier parents belittled him because of it and told him he was denying his heritage. He’s now down with a prestigious law firm making more bank than some thug dropout could ever hope to earn. Your missing the point, gangsta/thug culture is our fault, not the media, not some corporation, and certainly not white america’s. We support it, glamorize it, and buy the goods in most cases. So go ahead and take some of the heat off of Vick, the damage he’s done to us has already happened; another black man involved in some BS thug supported lifestyle. I’m ashamed, he has set us back regardless of the outcome, he was involved. So take responsibility, he did this, its considered cool in our culture, and we have to bear that burden. I’m embarassed

    Comment by Michael | Friday, August 3, 2007 | Reply

  4. Michael,

    You sound like an intelligent brother. Sounds like you’ve done a wonderful job protecting your son from all the influences of pop culture. And it also sounds like you have a very distasteful view of black people. You did say that it was your opinion and I have to leave you to it. Just like my article is my opinion and I appreciate people leaving me to it. If you found it insulting, trust me, that was not my point. However, I find brothers and sisters who see the world and then think that the black community’s condition developed in a vacuum free of other influences particularly disappointing. It is my opinion that people like yourself are much too quick to accept the full weight of responsibility on behalf of the entire black community, and are ready to absolve corporate influences of their share. Do you ever stop to wonder whatever happened to groups like Public Enemy? As I recall they were popular right up until they disappeared. Somehow the gangsta rap phenomenon got developed while the form of rap that really got people to think about their predicament and the world kind of vanished. Even artist that were known for their positive messages to the black community took on a different flavor once they got discovered by the big house…I mean big corporation. You may be ready to accept the propaganda that black people are fully responsible for what has happened. That’s more than your right and I’m sure a lot of corporate entities and white people appreciate you doing so. Me? I don’t buy it and I won’t buy it.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, August 3, 2007 | Reply

  5. Thanks for the comments, I really appreciate the chance to dialog even when we don’t always agree! I will always beleive that a person, black, white, whatever, is also more accoutable and responsible for thier behavior and choices than any other entity, or past history. Its the cause and effect issue I am struggling with. Corporate Music did not just thrust this gansta stuff on the black community, they simply tuned into what many in the black community value and then perpetuated it. Gansta rap didn’t just appear as a way to violate a race, we invented it, supported it, and cultivated it. Character is what gives us the strength to say we will not be influenced by forces, whatever thier source. It weakens us when we blame others for what is really our decisions. Love the dialog and your thoughts and especially your eloquence!

    Comment by Michael | Friday, August 3, 2007 | Reply

  6. Music corporations have choices for the kinds of music they develop. When rap music started it was very benign. Artist sang about whatever. Now rap music is almost always considered gangsta rap. The gangsta rap version is all that is developed and marketed by the music industry. Why is that? You may think it is only black people who support or develop this form of music. But when I passed by the white high school in backwoods Washington state, where the black population is virtually non-existent, I saw droves of young white males and females playing that crap from the loud speakers of their cars and trucks. I saw the white kids emulating the behavior in these videos. White kids ask black kids why aren’t you acting more black. And it is the white kids that run to the record stores to use their disposable income to buy the music and support its development. I’ve seen the almost all white house parties that play this form of music. This is far from being just a black phenomenon.

    I appreciate the feedback. It’s always a positive thing to engage black intellect.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Reply

  7. People do this type of things all over the world…. He is not the first one ever to do this to animals. People are blowing this up, because he have money and he was one of the highest paid NFL player. It’s not right but he is still human. If he was the average person would this been a big deal?? Do anybody watch animal channel & see what happen to animals on that show? Some people pay to have se* with animals, that’s nasty. We need to worry about the kids are being rape & killed.

    Comment by Sunshine | Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Reply

  8. both michael and brotherpeacemaker have valid points. yes we all should be able not just willing to accept responsibility for our actions. god gave us free will and we do with it what we want freely. i for one understand the concept of what brotherpeacemaker is saying. corporate america does perpetuate the madness. but not only charity starts at home so does responsibility. unfortunately a lot of homes are run by irresponsible people. if you find it okay for your preteen and teenage boys and girls to engage in behavior that is really unacceptable by humanity you have set up a petrie dish for inhumane behavior. from taking each other’s lives to thinking it’s okay for you to bankroll dogfighting. i don’t know michael vick’s story how he was raised and who he was raised by but he obviously doesn’t know from where his blessings really flowed. to whom much is given much is required. it is sad and disappointing to constantly see our brothers who have monetary wealth in the end show their intelligence level and character to be non existent. i’m not sure where to place the blame but michael vick is a grown ass man who had every opportunity to reinvent himself if needed. maybe he did and the reinvention was the monster who thought dog fighting was a good idea. and just to touch on what brotherpeacemaker said about public enemy and groups of that ilk. no it would not be in corporate americas best interest if not only we tell each other our worth but expect each other to live up to the truth of who we are. it is easy to do the wrong thing much harder to do what’s right. if we hold each other accountable what part to they get to play as puppeteers. nwa first album spoke their truth. corporate america put a formula on that and pay for youth to dance to that music. do you think any record label is willing to give the same deal to common as they would to 50 cent. people chase paper and everyone doesn’t know that all money ain’t good money. so we have our buffoon of choice. chosen by white america. flavor flav.

    it is way too many variables to consider to try to figure out what makes us be what we be. the fact is this you should be held accountable for your personal actions and it should be acknowledge that environment plays a part.

    truth and love sister

    Comment by truthandlove sister | Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Reply

  9. Hey Sunshine! Thanks for the feedback! I agree with your assessment that the only reason this is making news is people’s hatred of Michael Vick. I’ve seen Animal Cops Houston and Detroit. I’ve seen what people do to their animals. A house with hundreds of cats. Starving horses and fighting dogs. It’s all shameful!

    Truth and love! On behalf of the black community I thank you for your words. Too many of us think that when people make the comment that white people are culpable that they are trying to blame white people for everything. Far from it. All we are trying to say is look at the complete picture and understand that there is more to what is happening than the obvious. Don’t be manipulated to see only what you are told to see.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Reply

  10. What’s with the ‘race card’? Wrong is wrong! These poor animals are not concerned with the color of the “man” that is abusing them!!! I am white, and I hope that any white “man” would be hung equally as high as anyone else for these atrocities… I have a pit bull, her name is Daisy, she is the sweetest dog I have ever had, because that was how she was raised. Why don’t these “bad-ass, have more money than they know what to do with, small d****ed, super ‘in their own mind’ heros, get in a fighting ring of their own like minded moronic counterparts and fight their own fights? (Yes, even the white guys…)

    Comment by robert oswalt | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  11. Thanks for the feedback robert oswalt,

    But what’s with the white card? If wrong is so wrong how come people like Michael Vick go to jail for killing dogs while boot camp guards in Florida go free for killing black children? I don’t care how sweet your dog is, I wouldn’t care if it was a rabid mutt, it’s a freakin’ dog! You can get them for a little of nothing at the pound. You’ll howl like your dog when someone kills a Fido but let somebody talk about killing young blacks and it simply doesn’t register in your brain. I repeat the question: What’s up with the white card? And while we’re asking, what’s up with the small d**k card?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  12. First off, you don’t know me… And I don’t have time to introduce you to my life/values. Who said anything about killing black children? I would gladley weild the knife, to skin any m*f* that would harm ANY child! The topic was dogs, and so therefor I comented on the picture I saw. This guy has no wants that he can’t afford, and this is his form of entertainment…says something about his character. (the small * was just a vicerol reaction, obviously I don’t know)
    I would just like everyone to be the best they can be, and yes, I have my shortcommings. (the picture just hit close to home as it looks alot like my dog) By the way, I have children of my own and there are not enough ‘mutts’ in the world to make up for Any child. Again wrong is wrong and I agree with most of what you say except for the non-registering of boot camp deaths as that was not what I was refering to. For that matter, what about Hiroshima, what about the holocoust, what about female castration in Africa add infinitum… the topic was Michael Vick and MY reaction is “He’s a sick puppy” black white or green.

    Comment by robert oswalt | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  13. robert oswalt,

    You don’t know me either. And I’ve already tried to introduce you and others to my life and values. I could ask you similar questions about who said anything about race cards? That would be you. And just like you can introduce other subjects to the conversation, I can do the same.

    I’m just giving you a lot of static for the static you felt obliged to give me. The topic of this article isn’t Mr. Vick. As I said in the article, “The threat to society at large isn’t Michael Vick. Mr. Vick is just another sellout who stands ready and willing to conform to whatever image his corporate handlers manipulate him to display. The threats to society are the corporate malfeasants who work so diligently behind the scenes to identify what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior for so many African Americans.”

    Now obviously you feel that this is playing the race card. But the truth of the matter is that corporate America does a lot to help identify what is and what is not acceptable black behavior.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  14. I apologize if I have offended in any way shape or form, and readily admit that I did’nt read all of the literature that was present before I chipped in my two cents worth. I am not taking issue with your view, as a matter of fact I’m sure that meeting you face to face we would probably agree on more than not. This being the short comming of off hand comments made by the likes of me that really mean no harm and don’t convey the full scope of my persona. Take care and no hard feelings?

    Comment by robert oswalt | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  15. robert oswalt,

    No problem! And for the record, I’m probably the biggest doggie dog lover you’ve ever met. I can’t pass one up without asking, “Who’s a little doggie-dog? Who’s a little doggie-dog?”


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Reply

  16. I found this blog to be interesting and very thoughtful. I’d like to see what you think about my blog I wrote today on Vick playing again. I look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future. – Jason

    Comment by jasonblogz | Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Reply

  17. I don’t think blaming “Gangsta Rap” is fair. There are plenty of people who grow up listening to hardcore rap music and turn out to be decent people. And also, I admit I stopped reading when I started reading about race. I honestly don’t give damn about the race of this man. I don’t care where this sickening sport came from. I only care that innocent creatures were harmed for this psychopath’s entertainment. Who cares what race he is? The dog sure as hell doesn’t. And while I don’t agree that rap is the cause, I rather agree with Michael when he says it is the lack of influences to blame. The fact is, and as hard as this is to accomplish, there will come a day when race can’t be the biggest issue. When people wil be judged by the same standards and not by the standards of different ethnicities. So when I read this article and see those pictures, I don’t see a black man. I see a sick man who should be punished for the harm he has inflicted on his poor dogs. I guess what I’m saying is we can’t keep overanalyzing crimes, they are criminals no matter what race they are.

    For the record, I am African American.

    Comment by Cid | Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Reply

  18. Thanks for the feedback Cid,

    And I have to agree with you that blaming gangsta rap is unfair. That was the entire point of the article. I don’t know how far you got in the article but you obviously missed the point.

    But one thing I will say is that you reaffirm a lot of the problems with trying to understand the problems in the black community. Most people see a black person who is accused of committing a crime and think any effort made to understand the root of the problem is over-analyzing the issue and wasting time.

    You don’t see a black man but a sick individual. However, what I see is a black man who refuses to acknowledge what another black man is going through and therefore is ready to throw the blackness out with the bath water.

    If we take the time to understand the root of the problem we might be able to come up with a far more permanent solution other than more police and more jails and more courts. I know a lot of time people are quick to understand the criminal mind. It helps to understand what we can do to prevent future criminals. It is a more civilized way of approaching the problem than to simply throw the hands up and say they are criminals no matter what race they are.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Reply

  19. is that really a dog from Michael Vick’s kennel?

    Comment by steve | Friday, November 26, 2010 | Reply

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