Tuesday, December 28, 2010

President Obama’s Statements about Michael Vick: What Do They Really Mean?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Anyone following the worlds of sports and politics heard about President Barack Obama's decision to congratulate the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles for giving the embattled Michael Vick another chance to shine. The president called Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie to tell him that he condemns the crimes for which Vick has been convicted, but believes that those who've paid debts for their crimes deserve a second chance to contribute to society.

The symbolism of this moment can't be missed. Here we have an African American male going out of his way to express support for another black male coming out of the criminal justice system. While none of us knows Obama's true intentions, his public support for Michael Vick reminds us of the intricate connections that exist between many black males from all walks of life (Al Sharpton and I discussed thisvery same issue yesterday with regard to the arrest of the father of NBA star OJ Mayo): educated black politicians/doctors/lawyers who love sports have a great deal in common with athletes, who in turn have something in common with men in the criminal justice system, hip hop, etc. It's all connected at the end of the day (notice the close friendships between men like LeBron James and the rapper Jay-Z and the fact that many artists have friends who deal drugs).


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