Black folks coming for athlete activist Colin Kaepernick is not what the culture is about in 2017, especially when no one sent for a respectability politics talking convicted felon. Yes, I’m referring to Michael Vick’s recent comments related to Colin Kaepernick’s future as an NFL quarterback.
This week, in an appearance on FS1’s “Speak For Yourself” hosted by Jason Whitlock (strike one, two, and three), a straight-faced Vick, 37, said that Kaepernick, 29, must cut his hair to appear more “presentable” to the powers that be.
In fairness, Vick followed up his initial thoughts by adding he also believes Kaepernick’s less than optimal performances over the past couple of seasons are also contributing factors to Kaepernick’s free agency status with less than two months until the start of the 2017 NFL season.
Admittedly, however, Vick’s initial remarks were so asinine that I disregarded everything that followed. And based on the rapid and rightful dragging of Vick courtesy of social media and other major outlets, it appears most of you did too.
In June, Vick talked with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on his “Know Them From Adam” podcast. During their conversation, Vick, who formally retired from the NFL during the offseason, expressed his desire to return to the NFL as a coach. He explained, “I’d definitely love to help work with young quarterbacks and develop them and still compete, you know, with the team and with the coaches.” Naturally, when one is positioning himself for a power move, accepting an opportunity to appear on a nationally televised platform could be a game changing look if the appearance is received with high marks. However, when given a stage, especially as a person of color addressing race relations on a predominately white platform broadcasted from the sunken place, it is imperative that you remain conscious of your message. Instead, Vick took the bait and foolishly aligned his criminal behavior of fighting, drowning, and electrocuting dogs to that of Kaepernick’s pristine record as a law abiding activist. In less than one minute, Vick’s careless analysis delegitimized Kaepernick’s noble efforts of raising much needed awareness and money (as of June, Kaepernick has donated $700,000 of the $1 million he pledged) for social justice issues.
Recognize that when Vick shamed Kaepernick’s hair, he subconsciously contributed to endorsing damaging stereotypes that have threatened the lives of Black men in America forever. Historically, hair, skin color, style of dress, tone of speech, height, weight — you name it — have been used to criminalize and dehumanize Black men without justification. See Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling or even 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a small fraction of the Black unarmed males who were unjustifiably murdered by police officers because they feared for their lives on sight. Vick, a Black man, publicly echoing the same prejudices and microaggressions towards another Black man is validating AF for white people who believe complying with cops is a bulletproof lifesaving tactic. We all see how well that worked out for Philando Castile.
One day after Vick’s outstandingly bad comments, he attempted to clarify his remarks and deny any intended malice. He tweeted the following statement Tuesday morning:
— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) July 18, 2017
And hours later, Kaepernick posted this not so subtle response without additional context:
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 18, 2017
Self-loathing is real.
The one-time trendsetting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons is too shook to show solidarity with his bredren for fear that it could damage his rehabilitated image. It’s obvious that Vick’s agenda is to maintain good standing with the NFL in return for a professional come up, event if that means maligning a fellow member of the exclusive black QB fraternity along the way.
image via AP PHOTO/LYNNE SLADKY/FRANK FRANKLIN II