Wealthy African Americans: The Double Standard

To the Editor:
The breaking news was a total surprise. Football fans who had
tuned in to ESPN to see a preseason game between last year’s two
Super Bowl teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona
Cardinals, were immediately transfixed with the news that
Michael Vick was the newest Philadelphia Eagle.

Vick, one of the most celebrated football stars in history and
one of the wealthiest African Americans in professional sports,
had become somewhat of a social pariah because of his
involvement in a heinous dog fighting ring. After the
allegations became public two years ago, Vick instantly went
from one of America’s most beloved stars to probably its most

Despite the fact that Vick’s actions in the aforementioned dog
fighting were indeed heinous, the punishment and the public
fallout were extremely excessive. Many critics believed, and
still believe, that the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback
should be barred from making a living in the National Football
League permanently.

As a publisher of an online magazine, I marvel how technology
has transformed the way in which the media communicates with its
audience. What once was a one-sided relationship, has become
reciprocal, as readers of various publications and viewers and
listeners of television and radio shows can voice their opinions
just as easily as the manager of a media enterprise.

However, as an African American it shocks me to hear the anger
that many non-Black members of our great nation have when it
comes to their opinions of wealthy African Americans.
Practically all of the protestors against Vick’s signing with
the Eagles were White, and practically all of Vick’s supporters
were African American. The fact of the matter is the uproar over
Vick’s crime would not have resulted in such a harsh sentence if
he was not one of many wealthy African Americans in the NFL with
a football contract worth over $130 million at the time, in
addition to his many endorsement deals.

Although we have come far as a nation when it comes to race
relations, incidents always occur that lets us know that we have
so far to go. When President Barack Obama was elected many
believed we were in a post-racial America. However, the threats
and ridicule he has received from a certain bigoted segment of
our population lets us know that many are not willing to accept
powerful and wealthy African Americans.

Furthermore, many falsely believe if they do not utter racial
epithets and say all of the political correct things in public,
that somehow they are immune from expressing prejudice and
racism. In actuality, many times our racist thoughts are
subconscious, and deep down all of us our prejudice in some form
or fashion. Subconsciously, what many Americans have a problem
with is not that Vick tortured dogs, which he was totally wrong
for, but that this African American male from the ghettoes of
Virginia can come out of incarceration and become an instant
millionaire by jotting his signature on the dotted lines.

Even for those of us who are not blessed with a million dollar
contract, everyone from wealthy African Americans to poor White
Americans, deserve an opportunity to right the wrongs in their
life. No matter how severe the crime, we all need and deserve
forgiveness, including Vick.

“I know what Michael was accused and convicted of, and I don’t
like it at all,” Eagles teammate Donovan McNabb wrote on his
blog. “I have had dogs all my life and consider myself a
dog-lover. I am in no way excusing Michael for what happened,
but he was punished for his crime. He served his time and, at
least I believe, he has learned from it. I believe Michael is a
changed person, and that he deserves a chance at putting his
life back together.”

Nevertheless, the hatred that is aimed towards wealthy African
Americans does not have to stem from criminal activity. After
the shocking death of Michael Jackson, his family began
receiving the type of media scrutiny that they once received at
the height of their popularity.

Much attention was placed on Jackson’s three young children and
the details of the will that gave 40 percent of his earnings to
his mother Katherine, 40 percent to his three children and 20
percent to charity. When CNN’s Nancy Grace asked another legal
expert on her show if Katherine could give her portion of the
earnings to her children and husband, Grace shook her head in
disgust that all of the money would not go to his children.

I often wonder, if the fact that the skin of Jackson’s kids is
fair had anything to do with the media’s concern for their
welfare. If the three children had darker skin would news
outlets such as CNN have been so concerned about their welfare
and the allegations that their grandfather Joe had physically
abused his own children?

Furthermore, would Grace had been so disgusted to think that
Jackson’s parents and siblings could inherit hundreds of
millions of dollars if all parties involved had dark skin?
Throughout the history of this country, many wealthy White
Americans have earned their fortune through inheritance. If one
is blessed to have a highly successful member of the family, why
should they not benefit from “old money?”

It just seems that because we now have more powerful and
wealthy African Americans in our country, some in society have
become offended that wealth does not have a color complex, which
has resulted in many wealthy African Americans. Unfortunately,
many seem to have a cash complex when it comes to people of

Todd A. Smith

About the Author: Todd A. Smith is the publisher of
http://www.regalmag.com, an online magazine dedicated to issues
affecting African American men. To read more about wealthy
African Americans visit

Source: http://www.isnare.com

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