Really, Michael Vick? Really?
On Monday night, Vick, a former quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, told Fox Sports 1 host Jason Whitlock and guest host Mark Schlereth that, in Vick's opinion, Colin Kaepernick should cut his Afro.
"Listen, I'm not up here to try to be politically correct," Vick said, in truth sounding very politically correct. "I don't think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable."
Whether Kaepernick's political stand is the reason the former San Francisco 49er hasn't found a job yet is neither here nor there. I don't care how many touchdowns Kaepernick ultimately makes. My beef is that Vick's fashion critique is respectability politics gone horribly wrong.
Last I checked, Vick – thanks to his involvement in quite the gruesome dog-fighting ring back in 2007 – was the most maligned black man in the NFL. (Apparently, hurting dogs is worse than beating your wife.)
That was, until Kaepernick decided that he'd rather kneel than stand for the national anthem during the 2016-17 NFL season. Kaepernick, who was protesting unarmed black men being killed by police, decided that he'd just rather sit the anthem out, because from where Kaepernick was coming, America didn't have his back.
So Kaepernick's Afro – in all of its woolly, retro 1970s Dr. J splendor – has become an outward symbol of the 29-year-old's resistance.
It's trifling enough that Vick had the audacity to weigh in on Kaepernick's personal style as if Vick were the clean-cut, tattooed-up fashion police. But to suggest Kaepernick's Afro wasn't presentable? The whole conversation crossed some serious self-hate lines.
In response, Kaepernick posted an extremely long definition of Stockholm syndrome on Twitter. We sought a more concise version from the Merriam-Webster's: The psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.
You do get the idea.
Kaepernick ain't lying.
Black hair in its most natural state is always under fire.
At any given time, a crown of dreadlocks or head full of braids (extensions or cornrows) are violating some institution's dress code somewhere. This week on NPR, Kayla Lattimore reported a story about a charter school in North Boston with a dress code that forbid braided extensions on black girls. Those ignorant of how black people's hair grows out of their head flippantly suggest that we should just straighten it, get a relaxer, or cut it. (Read: Tame it.)
If you don't feel comfortable in the presence of my clean, styled black hair, that should be your problem, shouldn't it?
But it's extremely hurtful when black people — like Vick — fix their mouths to call Kaepernick's hair unpresentable. How does your hair grow out of your head, Michael? We do remember those cornrows. And what about those waves you probably still keep tight with a do-rag?
Kaepernick's hair is clean. It's powerful. It's shaped. And, most important, it's his to style as he sees fit.