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Following Michael Vick’s illuminating advice on FS1’s “Speak for Yourself” informing Colin Kapaernick to “cut his hair” and “just try to look presentable,” Colin Kaepernick seemed to respond via Twitter with the definition of Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is the psychological condition in which a hostage develops sympathy for and an alliance with his/her captors as a means of survival during captivity. If Kaepernick was indeed talking about Michael Vick then I couldn’t agree more.
We all remember how America reeled in horror at the cornrowed Vick having abused all of those poor, defenseless puppies. The dogfighting “thug” had to pay for his inexcusable crimes and he did so with a nearly two-year stint in prison. Upon his release, however, he shaved the braids, rebranded himself as an advocate for animal rights and re established himself as an upstanding citizen worthy of the NFL’s forgiveness.
It was as if Vick had spent his entire time in prison studying the philosophies of Booker T. Washington. And it kind of makes sense that he would. Washington had been born a slave and knew very well the horrors of the institution. An imprisoned Vick, especially after having lived as a wealthy and revered athletic hero, must have shared the same feelings as Washington. That feeling of “never again” and “I’ll do whatever it takes to be free” and “I know what these White folks are capable of so I’ll play by their rules and try to get ahead that way.”
Washington, who introduced and preached the idea of respectability politics, once wrote, “Labor to make yourself as indispensable as possible in all your relations with the dominant race and color will cut less figure in your upward grade.” In an 1895 speech, Washington also made the claim, “The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.” In response to Washington’s ideas, American Whites offered great praise to the man and regarded him as a trustworthy leader, and perhaps savior, of his race. He was a “safe negro.”
Yeah, that whole thing is Stockholm Syndrome alright.
I tend to have more sympathy for Washington than Vick though. Did Washington really have a choice during the era in which he lived? Nope, not at all. But Vick is a different story. He really didn’t have to fight those dogs in the first place. Plus he knows
good and damn well that respectability politics
doesn’t do anything for anyone who has been determined to be a threat to the American status quo.
Did Dr. King’s pristine suits or his beautifully orated talks of equality and non-violence keep him from getting shot down at the Lorraine Motel? Maybe King’s Infidelity disqualified him from being truly respectable so let me do Vick one better. How about Barack Obama?
Obama, a Harvard alumni and the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review, an accomplished author, the fifth Black person to serve as a U.S. Senator and the first Black U.S. president was never caught up in any scandal of any kind, political, personal or otherwise. Loved, revered and respected the world over, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama always remained well-spoken, poised and prepared. The only time he rocked an Afro was during the 70s. Yet for all his many accomplishments, his commitment to his wife, his adoration of his children, and his occasional wearing of mom jeans, none of that stopped him from being called a nigger, terrorist, liar (during a State of the Union address) or an outright traitor to the country.
I do believe Vick meant well when trying to offer advice to Kaepernick but I find it laughable that Vick has somehow determined that Kaepernick has image issues. Kaepernick has committed no crime, has not been to prison and was otherwise exercising his first amendment right as an American to practice freedom of speech. To suggest that Kaepernick’s hair (or overall supposed appearance as a revolutionary) is somehow responsible for his unpopularity with football fans who feel that his peaceful protest was an affront to patriotism is equally ridiculous. Perhaps if Kaepernick takes up dog fighting, he should give Vick a call. Otherwise, Vick should take several seats and keep his PR advice to himself.