In the space of two weeks I have lost my respect for not one, but two women I have long admired, and for reasons I never would have expected, all having to do with race and people of color. The women I am referring to are Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.
First Whoopi. How thrilled I was when I learned she was going to be joining The View. After the recent rash of controversy caused by Rosie O'Donnell, I mistakenly thought Whoopi would be just the intelligent and light-hearted addition they needed to continue their eleventh season with some freshness. So how shocked and disappointed I was when I heard Whoopi defending Michael Vick in his recent dog-fighting scandal:
He's from the South, from the Deep South. This is part of his cultural upbringing. For a lot of people, dogs are sport. Instead of just saying (Vick) is a beast and he's a monster, this is a kid who comes from a culture where this is not questioned.
Whoopi, Whoopi, Whoopi! You mean like Jeff Saturday, born in Georgia or Peyton Manning, born about as deep in the south as you're gonna get — New Orleans, Louisiana? Would you be so quick to condone them too if they'd broken the law? Or is your compassion for Vick more to do with his color? That's a terrible accusation I make, but I'm left with no other explanation for what you've said.
Back-pedaling, Whoopi subsequently defended herself the very next day, explaining that she was attempting to explain Vick's actions from a cultural view, but was in no way condoning his actions.
Dog fighting and cock fighting are cultural in some countries – yes, unfortunately they are. But here in the USA they are not. It doesn't matter if you're Chinese, Irish, Greek or African American, if you are born in this country and you live in this country, you abide by this country's laws. Dog fighting is a felony in this country!
There is no dark side to Vick being charged with this crime, only shock and disgust. And to imply, as Atlanta chapter NAACP president Rev. R.L. White did, that this was a public “lynching” because he is black is ludicrous. Or like NBA player Allan Iverson did, that people like Vick and himself are targeted due to their pro athlete status and for poor Michael to keep his head up through it. That they are victimized because the general public unfairly deals with them because they are rich and that they are pro athletes and above the law and spoiled. Then, of course, there is the issue of race. And editorials such as found in Workers World that claim Michael Vick is not a criminal. He is but another poor victim, like countless others, of a violence-riddled, monstrous capitalist system.
Michael Vick still has many black supporters, although some in the community are appalled by his alleged dog fighting activity. In some areas, Vick is still seen as a hero and just another black man being persecuted by the law for a not-so-serious crime. Some blacks feel that Vick did little wrong since his alleged crime is against animals. Animals are not human, so what's the problem? And for Whoopie to hop on this bandwagon was shocking to me; coming close to saying that it was okay because of the culture – because he is a person of color – just breaks my heart coming from her. I would expect any person with scruples or a hint of ethics to see that and not make excuses for him.
Thankfully Joy Behar took immediate issue with Whoopi's comments and asked her, "What part of the country is this? How about dog torturing and dog murdering?"
Her comments were also denounced by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, who noted that dogfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is considered a felony in all but two, Idaho and Wyoming. How long will it take now before we hear someone of color accuse Behar and Pacelle of making a victim out of Whoopi? I have a sad feeling that someone out there is ready to do just that.
And Oprah — Oprah endorsing Obama. We've long known that Oprah can make an impact on people's lives simply by plugging a book they wrote or bringing them aboard her show. But she's moved into something a little different this time. I will leave you to decide what that is, but after listening to her from as far back as 1984 say that it's criminal that more women aren't elected to office in this country and chastising the women of her audience for not doing enough to make that happen, she herself has an opportunity to do just that now and doesn't. Why is that, do you suppose?
Furthermore, though she hasn’t had other candidates on her show to my knowledge, she did invite and have Obama and his wife on. Not only that, but she then holds an extravagant bash with 1,500 guests on Saturday evening, introducing Obama's wife, Michelle (who was wearing a dress by Chicago designer Maria Pinto), as the "first lady."
Wouldn’t you love to see that guest list? I do know that Stevie Wonder performed at the do and Chris Rock and – yup! Whoopi too – were both in attendance. We can only speculate…
I hope no one takes me wrong with this article though I have no doubt it's about to happen too. I stand by my convictions and I can live with people's criticisms. I admire Barack Obama very much but this really has little to do with his running for office – or him personally. He is a very pleasant and articulate man who may well be the first black president this country has seen. I love the prospect of something like that happening. But this post has to do with hypocrisies and people’s motives – how they can be upset by accusations of racism against them, yet perpetuate it with their actions.
Ladies, you really have let me down.