Vick, Dogs And American Violence

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[Column: Speaking Truth To Power]

Michael Vick is now serving a 23 months sentence for lying to federal officials about his involvement in dog fighting.

Vick’s incarceration has pleased and appeased those whites—including PETA members—who demanded his head be served up for his crimes against “man’s best friend.” Some probably think his sentence should have been longer. However, paradoxically, while many whites decried the violence done to those dogs, they remain stunningly silent on the general state of domestic pathological violence in the America. What does this say about America’s priorities?

Unfortunately, many white Americans look at crime as an urban minority problem, partly due to the media’s misrepresentations. This notion is false, misleading and dangerous. Statistical analysis of crime does show proportionally higher levels of crime in poor communities. As many African Americans and Hispanics live in economically depressed urban environments, where poverty is compounded by epidemic rates of unemployment and overcrowding, the violence there is devastating; unlike, rural areas where violence is tempered by low population density.

It goes without saying that Blacks are an endangered species in America. According to the Department of Justice from 1976 to 2005 Blacks accounted for 46.9% of those who were victims of violence, and represented 50.9% of those killed by gun violence. They also represented 42.7%  of the victims of felony murder. The Black population is 12%.

In the 18-24 year range, Black males have the “highest homicide victimization rates.” It is often said a lot can be ascertained by how a society treats its young. The death of young Blacks may not move many in white America to act—as they did to demand that Vick pay for his mistreatment of dogs—but the death of young people in America isn’t only a “minority problem.”  The Department of Justice notes that 18-24 year olds, in all “racial and gender” groups have high rates of victimization.

The criminalization and demonizing of Blacks is a vestige of slavery that is perpetuated, largely, by the media. Often, when the issue of violence is addressed in the so-called “mainstream media” this American epidemic is framed as a problem caused by “those people.” White America and their media continually stereotype Blacks. To most of them Blacks are nothing more than savage “Sambos.”

In communities of color, a Black life can be taken anytime; by thugs, racists or fascists wearing badges that shoot people down with 50 shots, knowing they won’t be held accountable.

Yet, the only thing coming from white America is a loud apathetic silence. Is it because they don’t identify with the plight of those segregated from their lily-white cocoons?

Consequently, chickens are now coming home to roost. Ever since the late nineties we have seen several wanton acts of violence committed by disturbed white kids highlighted by the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre, where 23 people were wounded and 13 killed. The youthful offenders, 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold, both white, then turned their guns upon themselves.

The Columbine killings caused concern among whites, because these were “their kids.” They were not “those people.” Whites expect that kind of violence from “those” they regard as uncouth, uncultured “animals.” But these were white kids shooting other white kids. Many asked how could this happen? They had the audacity to ask: Might this be the influence of gangsta rap? In an odious editorial, after the carnage, Newsday, a New York newspaper, claimed since these killings didn’t happen in the “blackboard jungles” of inner cities and since the dead were good white kids and not the children of “crack heads” there was now cause for alarm.

When a media institution promotes this kind of “bell curve” devaluation of life, how can this country face up to its racism in the 21 century? This is partly the reason why historically, white serial sociopaths like Gary Ridgway, Ted Bundy, John Gacy, and countless others, went undetected for years.

This past year we witnessed the April 16, Virginia Tech Massacre, which 23-year-old gunman Seung-Hui Cho orchestrated to coincide with the anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. Cho’s rampage killed 32 people, surpassing the deeds of Harris and Klebold. Ironically, Colorado is again in the news since the recent killings of four, by 24-year-old Matthew Murray at YWAM and New Life Church in Arvada and Colorado Springs.

Eight years after Columbine are we any closer to understanding why Harris and Klebold, felt so alienated that they hatched their plot of murderous mayhem? The lives of all are precious. White America’s disregard for the premature deaths of people of color—many of whom are shot down worse than dogs—flies in the face of her pretense as a “caring” nation.

Until America cares for all, all will be vulnerable to violence. Could it be that America’s destiny is to reap and be buried by the violence that it has sown? The Department of Justice says “86 percent of white victims are killed by whites.”

Michael Vick is in jail for lying about his involvement in dog fighting. Is America any safer?


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