This is the last thing I'm going to say about the Vick situation
(Note: I wrote much of this back in August and posted it on my other blog which I don't update much. I put it here since Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison today.)
The Michael Vick case is not about sports. It’s about the law…and second chances.
I won’t take up any time recapping his animal abuse/dog fighting charges, as they are easy to find. What has been shocking though, is the number of Blacks who have a zero tolerance for athletes breaking the law. Some bloggers and columnists have gone as far as to say that since Vick broke the law off the field, he should lose the “privilege” of going to work as a football player permanently. If he can’t go back to the NFL, then where is it acceptable for him to find employment? Is there work left in America for someone convicted of dog fighting?
We have become a judgmental society. In 1994 California voters approved a “three strikes and you’re out” law that puts those convicted of a similar felony 3 times away under minimum sentencing guidelines. “60 Minutes” profiled a man who was convicted of shoplifting 3 times and he is now serving two 25 year sentences for stealing less than $200 worth of video tapes.
But now in 2007 we have a one-strike law for Vick. Pretty soon, we won't be given a chance at all and we'll be back in the 1940's where Blacks were considered less than human beings, women couldn't vote and other injustices were imposed by the dominating race and gender.
Is Vick a victim of racism? I say yes, but most of you Black bashing African-Americans will say no. No one called Vick the n-word or called his mother’s hair nappy so it can’t be racism right?
By no means am I saying that we don't need law enforcement. Enforce the law. He was been sentenced and will serve time and hopefully come out alive and in reasonably sound mind.
But what I AM saying is that continuing to punish people after they have served thier time HAS TO STOP.
In Kentucky, convicted felons lose most of their civil rights even after being released from serving their time in prison. They can't own a fire arm, some can't enter the military and none of them can vote.
We have laws against "double jeopardy" but none against double punishment.
In The National Urban Leagues publication, "The State of Black America 2007: Portrait of the Black Male" Barack Obama says this in the foreword and it should apply to Vick’s circumstance:
"The crisis of the Black male is our crisis whether we are Black or white, male or female. It is too easy and sometimes too fashionable to demonize Black men...who have strayed. But in so doing, we degrade ourselves, we weaken the bonds of shared interest that are necessary to sustain us. We fail to give people the first chance they deserve, and the second chance that we all sometimes require."