Real Talk: We must learn from Vick's fall Jason Whitlock FOXSports.com, Updated 58 minutes ago We've been here before. It was November 7, 1991, Magic Johnson stood before hundreds of cameras and told the world that he was HIV positive. His announcement rocked the sports world. Allegedly Magic's johnson taught us all a lesson about irresponsible sex, groupies and the pitfalls of a celebrity lifestyle. We vowed to do better. Nothing changed. Last week we learned that 28-year-old Travis Henry, a decent NFL running back, has fathered nine children by nine different women in four different states. In America, especially among superstar athletes, sex is still mostly thoughtless and unprotected. Worse, 16 years after Magic's announcement, there are far more average Americans chasing the lifestyle that nearly killed Magic, incarcerated Paris and drugged Lindsey Lohan. So, forgive me, I'm not all that hopeful that we will implement anything we've gleaned from Michael Vick's reality TV show. As I watched Monday as Vick contritely apologized for the actions that will seemingly land him in jail and cost him more than $100 million, I thought of Earvin Johnson, who, like Vick, performed magic with a ball. Vick's comeuppance and remorseful, four-minute, post-guilty-plea mea culpa shook the sports world to the same degree as Magic's tear-provoking press conference. Obviously, there were few tears shed for Vick. Unlike Magic's misdeeds, many of us cannot see ourselves making the same mistakes as Vick. But the bottom-line reaction is the same: We hope that young people, particularly young athletes — and, in the Vick case, most particularly young black athletes — will choose a different course of action based on lessons learned from Vick's fall. "I'm more disappointed in myself, if anything, it's because of all the young people, young kids, I've let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model," Vick said. "To have to go though this, and put myself in this situation, I hope that every young kid out in the world watching this interview right now or who has been following the case will use me as an example to use better judgment and make better decisions." Vick is singing the right tune. Unfortunately my hope of a cultural awakening is tempered by the knowledge that too many young black boys will have the Vick story defined to them through the prism of white racism. White racism is our kryptonite. It's our excuse for nearly every malady. It's our excuse to deflect and remain in denial. Within minutes of Vick's guilty plea, ESPN's Doug Stewart could be seen and heard shouting on TV that because the police walked in the Rodney King beating, black people believe Vick is being dealt with too harshly. I'm not making this up. Never mind that Jayson Williams killed a limo driver and is free like O.J. Never mind that O.J. walked, and we were spotted on TV wildly cheering the release of a man who wouldn't stop to tinkle if we were all piled in a blaze of fire. Vick will not serve as a lesson unless we reject the myth that racism is always the main lesson. We never go to math or social studies or science or English because we want to take the class we know we can ace, the class that is still extremely relevant, but it's a subject that needs context and an understanding of the big picture. The big picture here is that we have a youth culture in crisis. More pertinent to the Vick case, we have a black youth culture — hip hop — that is in crisis, self-destructive, filled with self-hatred and celebratory of criminality. We, black folks, must stand up and object to this culture, redirect this culture, or there will be more Michael Vicks. Now all of that is indisputable, and reliving Rodney King won't do a damn thing to solve the problem. We have to take control of our culture and our destiny. We have to spell out reasonable and appropriate expectations for our young people and our athletes. We can no longer sit back, accept whatever behavior they offer up and blame racism when we don't like the results. Too many of our athletes are being reared in a culture that does not prepare them for the fame, fortune and scrutiny that is handed to them. Vick is a prime example. Here's what Michael Vick didn't figure out until Monday: All the actions he took on his way to a $130 million NFL contract were not appropriate. That seems rather simple. But most of you have never experienced receiving a million-dollar contract at age 21 or 22. It warps your brain. It can reinforce negative values. An outsider can recognize that Michael Vick became an NFL star because God blessed him with uncanny athletic ability, not because Vick's work ethic was better than, say, Chris Leak's, not because Vick surrounded himself with better people than did his brother, Marcus. Until all of this, Vick likely thought he had taken most of the proper steps. Why else would he be so blessed? Talent, like beauty, can be a horrible curse. It can hide so many shortcomings, limit your intellectual evolution, compromise the way your friends, family members and co-workers interact with you, prevent you from dealing with problems that are frighteningly obvious to objective observers. Michael Vick will now have time to ponder all of this. Let's hope his rational thoughts are not drowned out by the idiots who will enthusiastically tell him that racism put him in this jam.