How Does America Really Feel About Black Celebrities

By Todd A. Smith

            It is amazing how quickly America can build up its latest celebrity.  We shower them with praise and adulation as if they are the second coming of the messiah.

            High profile athletes have the ability to bring all colors and creeds together in unity at any professional sporting event across the world.  For those few hours that we are at a stadium or arena, we seem to forget about our differences and problems because of the exploits of some superbly talented athlete.

            After earning an excessive amount of money, many Black superstars have the false notion that have crossed over and are above the struggles of ordinary African Americans.

            In Spike Lee’s controversial film Do the Right Thing, bigoted pizzeria employees implied that icons such as Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan were beyond being Black because of their success.  They argued that their prejudice toward African Americans did not include their Black heroes because they had risen above regular Black folk.

            However, because of the recent Michael Vick dog fighting case, it is time young Black celebrities realize that their success and fortune does not put them above racists who hate to see African Americans doing better than themselves.

            I have often said that bigots hate rich and successful Black people more than they hate Black people in general.  For someone who has heard all their life that they are better than people with brown skin it is reaffirming to see a Black family struggling on welfare.  However, it is extremely disheartening to believe that you are superior to people of color and then see a 27-year-old Black male earn over $100 million playing football and endorsing products.

            I am the first person to say that Michael Vick should suffer the consequences for his crime.  There is absolutely no reason a multi-millionaire should even be involved in something as stupid as a dog fighting.

            However, I am totally against those who say he should be banned from the NFL for life because of a dog, especially when you have players like Leonard Little who have killed human beings and are still playing every Sunday afternoon.

            Although I am by no means an animal lover, it would sicken me to see any living creature tortured for any reasons, but it sickens me even more that at a time when soldiers are dying everyday in Iraq and students are killing each other everyday in American schools that so much emphasis is placed on an animal.

            Maybe if we put as much emphasis on loving other human beings as much as we love our pets we would not find ourselves in the moral crisis that is present in America.

            It is time that African American celebrities realize that bigots will pretend to love you when all is going well but as soon as you make a mistake they will become your biggest critics.

            During Barry Bonds’ homerun chase, he was the victim of vicious taunts by unruly fans.  However, are those same fans criticizing St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel for allegedly receiving human growth hormone in his attempt to make it back to the big leagues?

            The tragic downfall of Michael Vick should serve as warning that there is a double standard in American sports.  Black athletes must realize that they are constantly under surveillance and one mistake or accusation can tarnish their image if not destroy their entire career.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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