HE IS CHALLENGING INSITE READERS!
Editorial By: Minister Deric C. Muhammad
Little Brandon is one of the most intelligent and gifted nine year-olds one could ever meet. He is also my cousin, and an honor roll student. As we sat one afternoon viewing one of the countless CNN news updates regarding the Michael Vick dog fighting debacle, I asked him a
question that inspired this brief op-ed.
“Brandon…what is worse to watch; two dogs fighting or two human beings?” The handsome youngster paused in serious contemplation and gave a look that read “that is a good question”. Five or six seconds later he responds: “seeing dogs fight is worse than seeing people fighting.” When asked why he felt that way, he retorted “I’m not sure.” Brandon and I had a
long talk that day.
That exchange with an innocent child made me to think over exactly how much violence has become woven into the very fabric of American culture. Later on that day, while flipping cable channels, I happened upon a newly popularized phenomenon of savagery called Ultimate Fighting Championship where I watched two bare-knuckled human gladiators beat one
another until one lay unconscious and unable to continue. There was so much blood in the ring afterward that a puddle began to form. I saw thousands cheering them on and I realized that this was entertainment. And then I thought about the Hunter/ Vice President Dick Cheney and the staged shooting of rare pheasants (birds) and deer and then I realized this was recreation. And then I thought about Michael Vick and further realize…this is hypocrisy.
I grew up “in the hood”, as they call it, in northeast Houston. I have never seen as many dog fights as I have this past month on CNN. I personally think that dog fighting is uncivilized, but when you witness the type of violence among human beings that takes place where we come from it kind of takes the sting out of a dogfight. (Sorry, PETA.)
Over 60% of households in the Black community are headed by Black women, leaving it the most “over mothered and under fathered” community in America. There is a natural aggressive tendency in the young Black male to gravitate toward strength, power and security. This is a real reason youngsters join gangs and one of the chief reasons some have an affinity for the pit bull fighting dog. They see these canines as symbols of strength and security. They gravitate toward symbols of strength because the substance is oftentimes absent from the home.
I don’t state these facts to put up a defense or make excuses for Vick regarding any mistakes or errors he may have made in the past. However, it would be hypocritical to pass judgment on him for past missteps, especially when we all have made our own.
I do not understand how Rev. Sharpton, Julian Bond, Russell Simmons (who I consider a friend) and other Vick critics can be so quick to call for his punishment and not as quick to seek him out to offer counsel, prayer and words of wise guidance. What about all of the charities that Vick
contributed time and money to? Does his alleged misdeeds, in relation to these dogs negate all of his good deeds for human beings namely the families of the Virginia Tech shooting victims? What about his community work with at-risk youth in Atlanta and Virginia, the food trucks that he brought to Virginia on Thanksgiving Days to feed needy families, the scholarship opportunities he provided for youth and the monies donated to help single mothers purchase homes?
Any Black leader who would turn his or her back on Vick should reevaluate and rethink their position carefully. Is Vick perfect? No. But guess what, neither are you and I. If somebody stood by you and helped you when the world was against you then I believe that it is your duty to stand by your brother, help him to correct himself and not throw him to the dogs.
Again, I am no fan of dog fighting. But, the scriptures teach us that the human being is the “glory of God”, not the dog. I believe that the 3000 plus human beings who have lost their lives in Iraq defending their country against imaginary weapons of mass destruction are more
important than those dogs. I believe that in a just society, deer hunting and quail killing should be a crime if dog fighting is a crime. I believe that in a civilized society human beings should not profit from savage sport and entertainment, such as ultimate fighting. I humbly submit that most of Vick’s critics do not have the moral authority to lambaste him as they have. We need a cultural revolution in America.
My advice to you, Brother Mike, is to keep your head up, for this, too shall pass. You never know who your real friends are until you get into deep waters like these. There is a saying among (white) Americans that a D-O-G is a man’s best friend. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us the root of this thinking and how the dog gained such a high place in the
family of Caucasians. I humbly request that you spell it backwards (G-O-D) and there lies “all the friend you need.” If Nike, Reebok and the others want to distance themselves from you, then fine. The more these companies, the NFL, so-called leaders and others distance hemselves from you; you must get closer to G-O-D. His is the only endorsement you really need. That’s real talk, brother.
I challenge the readers of this editorial to shop my question to children and adults, alike. You will be surprised at the responses you receive. I am asking all Black organizations to join me in the lifting up of Michael Vick and to be careful that we do not participate in the public
lynching that is underway. I am asking hip-hop artists, Hollywood power brokers, past and present professional athletes, and yes our community and political leaders all, to not remain silent, but speak up. And last but not least, I am asking Black leaders to remember when someone helped them to turn their stumbling block into a stepping stone.
Minister Deric Muhammad
Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice