The Empire That Probably Isn’t Out To Destroy Us

So…I’ve seen the criticism of Empire.  I have to be honest and admit that I used to be hard on the ratchet hood stereotype shows like Love and Hip Hop and the Housewives of Atlanta and such at one time, too.  But I had to take a step back and be really honest with myself about something.  Black people are NOT the only people who are reduced to stereotypes that are exploited for entertainment and profit on television.  I’m not saying exploitative television is a good thing just because we’re not the only victims of it.  What I am saying is…we’re NOT the only victims of it.

Here are some strictly reality television shows that are also exploitative of other groups of people:

The Amish Mafia
Mob Wives
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (actually not on anymore, I don’t think)
Dance Moms
Teen Mom
The Real Housewives of New York
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
The Real Housewives of Orange County
The Shahs of Sunset
Dog The Bounty Hunter

Every group of people highlighted in those shows are not African American.  Italians, the Amish, White “Gypsies” (I honestly didn’t know there was such a thing in America, and I’m not entirely sure there really is, since we are talking about a reality TV show here), rich White women in three cities,  people of Arabian descent, even Hawaiians are targets for reality television stereotyping.  Today, television is pretty much an equal opportunity exploiter of the lowest common denominator of all of humanity, not just Black folks.  The debauhery and ratchetness of every ethnicity and socio-economic strata just make for good, juicy television.

There’s also a lot of hate going around because the show is on the Fox Network, ultra Conservative Rupert Murdoch’s baby, home of the very troubling Fox News.  Because of Murdoch’s politics and Fox News’ penchant for…taking extra license with facts and calling it news, people are convinced that Empire is just another ploy by racist White people via Rupert Murdoch to continue to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of Black people; to keep us looking like horrible, dangerous, criminal, amoral people who don’t deserve fair treatment, let alone respect and justice; while also pushing the worst music I have heard in one hour a week in my life, all in order to continue to keep us down.  I would almost agree with that, except…

There is a show on Fox – the same network that Empire is on – that has a strong female Black lead who is not in a stereotypical role.  She is a law enforcement officer, solves mysteries, is intelligent, beautiful, capable, compassionate (loves her sister very much), and is completely kick ass.  She works for a Black man who is the precinct captain, and she actually bosses a White man around, as he’s “new to the area” and needs her help.  What is the show?  Sleepy Hollow.  Do you watch it? I bet you don’t, because it’s science fiction, and “we” (African Americans) don’t watch sci-fi.

So,  I have to ask… who’s fault is it if there IS a show with Black people in positive roles on television – on the SAME NETWORK AS THE SHOW WE’RE CONVINCED WAS CREATED TO PROMOTE NEGATIVE RACIAL STEREOTYPES – but we don’t watch it?  Oh, do you know what other absolutely amazing television show was aired on Fox that had an absolutely amazing strong Black MALE role in it?  Fringe.  It was science fiction, too, so…yeah, we didn’t watch that, either.

No, I don’t believe Fox or Rupert Murdoch is using Empire to destroy us.  The Fox Network and its programing executives were pitched an idea.  They ran with it because they saw how Tyler Perry turned the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) around with his shows.  They saw how scripted dramas that are heavy on the over-the-top, ultra dramatic soap opera vibe like Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, The Good Wife, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder have been wildly successful.  They saw the music industry twist, and they were hoping to draw younger viewers.  And they were hoping to draw viewers from 50 Cents’ show Power over to their show on their network.  They liked the idea pitched, considered all the possible ways they could draw viewers, and they ran with it hoping to make some money.  Just like they did with Sleepy Hollow.   Just like they did with Fringe.  Empire is a shrewd and savvy business decision.  I really don’t see it as a tool in a racist machine’s plot to destroy us.

Understand, I’m not saying any of this as an excuse or a reason for people to not criticize Empire. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, and if you have problems with the portrayals of the characters,  then please criticize away.  Because yes, the characters are cartoonish and over the top and triflin’ and cray and ratchet and all of that and more.   And the music really is some of the most horrendous sounding drivel I have heard within the space of sixty minutes in my whole entire natural life.  Yes, Empire is some foolishness.  I like it and I watch it, but I completely recognize that it is some utter foolishness.  Who lives like these people and don’t get pushed out a window?  But that would be a great plot twist…wait…that actually did sort of happen in the season finale.  But OK, it is foolishness!!!  So I have no problem with the criticism. But racist?  This is just me talking, but I think that’s a stretch.

So, all of that leaves me with this question:  if we are so outraged and appalled about Empire, what are we finally going to do to create the opposite of what is out there that we hate so much, that we always say we hate so much, rather than just sit around and soundly criticize what we hate?

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Enough With The Marshawn Lynch Victim/Hero Worship

I’ve seen and heard and read all the hubbub about Marshawn Lynch over the past few weeks. I’ve shared a few initial thoughts in Facebook exchanges with a few people who didn’t go over very well. I’ve posted a few fleeting thoughts about it that were largely ignored. And I’ve turned the issue and people’s opinions about it over and over in my mind a few times to try to understand exactly what is going on with it. Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that, aside from my admiration of the man and his work on the football field, and my utter shock that he wasn’t given the ball to run on the second to last down of the SuperBowl against the Patriots last Sunday (that was probably one of the most ignorant plays I’ve seen since I’ve been watching football, and that’s been a long doggoned time), that I am sick and tired of people making Marshawn Lynch out to be some kind of victim of media harassment at the least, a victim of media-driven racism at the worst, and some kind of hero for demonized young Black men overall.

I know; half of y’all have already started cussing me out at the end of that last sentence. A couple of you have probably already called me a coon.  Oh well.  I’m going to tell you why I feel this way anyway.

It has been said that Marshawn Lynch doesn’t like talking to the media, and that he feels he shouldn’t have to. And because he feels he shouldn’t have to, the media should just leave him alone. Well…media participation is a contract requirement that is common to every NFL player AND coach, and the NFL is not the only sport that has this requirement. If you watch any sports at all, you’ll notice that after every game, the coach and a couple of players from the losing team always talk to the media. Now, if my team lost a game, I wouldn’t want to talk to anybody about it, especially not a bunch of story-hungry media hounds. But week after week, game after game, the players and coaches from the losing team do it, regardless of how they feel. Do you know why? Because they are contractually obligated to. So the media isn’t inclined to leave an athlete alone just because he (or she) doesn’t want to talk to the media. I’m sure Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson did NOT want to talk to the media bout the outcome of the SuperBowl, but talk to the media about it they did. This is as much a part of the game as training camp and personal conduct policies, so people thinking that Marshawn Lynch shouldn’t have to fulfill this obligation simply because he doesn’t want to is naive. And frankly, acquiescing to the whims of coaches and players is not the media’s job. They’re paid to get a story, to get quotes, to capture emotion. They’re not harassing Marshawn Lynch by asking him questions, they’re doing what THEY are paid to do.

Marshawn Lynch also isn’t a victim of media harassment because he isn’t alone in being pressed for statements by the media, and for being fined for not talking to them. In in 2009 LeBron James and Gilbert Arenas – both NBA players – were fined for not talking to the media. In 2010, Minnesota Vikings’ Receiver Randy Moss was fined for not talking to the media. These are just three cases I could think of right off the top of my head from recent years. But to be fair and thorough, I did a little digging and I found this interesting list of athletes across the sports spectrum who have had issues with the media, and who have been fined or punished in some way because of it. Some of these athletes resorted to physical violence against members of the media, but some merely declared that they didn’t like the media, and wouldn’t talk to them. Again, talking to the media is a contractual obligation, and the media representatives are merely doing their job; a job which is not contingent upon how the athletes feel that day.

Then there’s the idea that Mr. Lynch’s treatment by the media is another example of the demonization of Black men in the media. Some believe that Mr. Lynch is standing up to a racist media that would distort his image, twist his words, and make him look bad because he’s a Black man. Look, there are plenty of times that some in the media really have demonized a famous Black man in order to sensationalize a story, to get more readers, viewers and ratings, or because it just fits their particular narrative. I’m not convinced, though, that this situation is one of those times. When I consider that the aforementioned list of 20 media-averse athletes contains plenty of White men, I can’t get on the “this is a racial issue” bandwagon.

Then I had to realize something that I think is very critical to how some people view this situation: so many of the people who believe Marshawn Lynch is making some sort of stand for protecting, or refusing to let the racist media dictate, his image — and by extension the image of the modern Black athlete — are much younger than I am. This might seem irrelevant, but it isn’t. See, most of these much younger folks may not know a lot of football or sports history. So they wouldn’t have known about those aforementioned 20 media-allergic athletes. And if they didn’t know about those guys, who are pretty contemporary, they certainly wouldn’t have known about one of the biggest jerks in my memory of the NFL – Jim McMahon. I’m actually surprised he didn’t make the list.

In the 1980s, Jim McMahon came into the league as the quarterback for the Chicago Bears. He was young and cocky and an attention-seeking media hog. His antics cost him fines and negative press and the disapproval of football fans and the general public alike — except when he played. We loved him then, because he was actually pretty amazing for a while. So amazing that the Bears won a SuperBowl with him as quarterback. You read that right…the CHICAGO BEARS won a SuperBowl. But this was over 30 years ago, before some of the folks whose articles and blogs I have read in the past few weeks were even born.

McMahon’s football-related shenanigans were very similar to Marshawn Lynch’s. McMahon was fined for wearing an unapproved headband during a game; Lynch was fined for wearing of a pair of unapproved green shoes in a game recently. McMahon frequently conducted interviews and press conferences with obvious disdain for the media; Lynch has conducted interviews and press conferences with obvious disdain for the media. McMahon stayed in plenty of trouble for his behavior, with the League and with the law while in the NFL. He was called all kinds of jerks and thugs and brats and punks and boors (yes, some reporters said he was boorish – journalists seemed to have a better vocabulary back then, I suppose), by fans and many in the media. He had his supporters, but a lot of people just didn’t like the guy.

Jim McMahon is White.

So, remembering how a young, cocky, attention-grabbing, crazy-talented young White quarterback was treated with almost exactly the same disapproval from the fans, and was the focus of the same ravenous attention for more reportable foolishness by the media, I have a hard time believing that Marshawn Lynch is being treated any differently than Jim McMahon was. So I have a hard time believing that race has anything to do with how Lynch is being treated. Or at least…how he perceives he’s being treated. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I also reject the idea that Marshawn Lynch is protesting the White male control of the NFL over Black male bodies, taking the revolutionary stance of refusing to say “How high,” when the White man says, “Jump.” (I didn’t make that up; I read that somewhere and it’s a summary-paraphrase of an idea.) I think that’s…kind of ridiculous. No…not kind of ridiculous. It is utterly ridiculous.

First, all the reporters who are interviewing Mr. Lynch aren’t White, so “the White man” isn’t commanding that he jump, as some people seem to believe. Sports journalism is a pretty multi-ethnic pot these days. While most major outlets are owned by White men, there are a lot of reputable African-American owned outlets that are represented at major games, and there are plenty of well-respected African-American reporters there, too. Second, Mr. Lynch actually did a pretty normal interview with Deion Sanders last year before the SuperBowl. Sort of. Deion Sanders is a sports analyst for CBS Sports and the NFL Network. Last I checked, those outlets are not owned by Black people. But hey, maybe Mr. Lynch just has a tab bit more respect for Mr. Sanders because Mr. Sanders is an NFL legend himself. I could buy that and walk away happy (sort of), if it were not for this press conference that Mr. Lynch happily did for Skittles. Skittles, which is reportedly his favorite candy. I’m cool with that – I love me some Skittles, too. It’s just that it doesn’t seem from this interview that Mr. Lynch has a problem with some White people asking him all kinds of stupid, goofy, non-football related questions. So…yeah, I don’t buy the idea that Marshawn Lynch is standing up to a White-run, racist media that is out to destroy his image and reputation. And as I said before, what Mr. Lynch is doing isn’t revolutionary at all. It isn’t even original.

And speaking of his image and reputation…

As much as some in the media sometimes gets things wrong, twists or omits facts, and sometimes just outright lies to sensationalize a story, no one has done more put a little tarnish on Marshawn Lynch’s image and reputation than…Marshawn Lynch. His run-ins with the law preceded him to Seattle, and he hasn’t always been such a nice guy while with the Seahawks, either.

Just to cover all the bases that I’ve seen thrown out there, I also don’t agree with the notion that Mr. Lynch is all that shy around cameras or crowds. He might be a very private guy; OK, I’ll buy that. But painfully shy?? Painfully shy in front of crowds when he plays in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, in front of some of the largest crowds every single week for several months a year? And for the past two years, has has played in a championship game that boasts the largest viewership of any television program EVER each year? OK…OK… believe it or not, I won’t completely discount that because I suffer from anxiety attacks, and they are monstrous and terrifying and crippling and completely unpredictable, at least for me.  They can hit me in the car driving to work or in the shower washing my hair; it’s like a hateful surprise from my hormones that’s always unannounced and inconvenient, to say the least.  But if he does have an issue with some type of crushing shyness or anxiety, then how does he pull off endorsements and late night talk show appearances?

So, OK, if the problem isn’t media harassment, if it isn’t racist media manipulation, if it isn’t a social disorder-based aversion, then what is the issue with Marshawn Lynch’s behavior?

And why in the world do I care??

I think…it’s all about money.

Listen, I am not saying that Marshawn Lynch is a bad guy. I’m really not. He’s an incredibly talented young man who has some growing up and maturing to do, and he’s wearing his level of maturity on his sleeve, I believe. And, judging from the Skittles interview and the segment on Conan, he can also be a very nice and very funny and very charming young man. But he’s not this hero for Black or any other youth, not with his attention-grabbing behavior. And he’s not taking a stand against any racist system in the NFL or in the media. What I do believe is that this same young man who has such a disdain for, and shyness in front of, the media is the same young man who has marketed that supposed disdain and shyness to sell products and to get more attention, which only puts him in even more demand. Watch that Progressive commercial again. Watch that Conan segment again. That’s right, Mr. Lynch seems to be able to turn that media hate on and off at will, spewing it like venom in the SuperBowl press conference, but using it like a precision tool in commercials.  He seems to have brilliantly created a persona that he is capitalizing on. And I’m not mad at him for that. He should probably teach a marketing class for it. What I do have a problem with is people propping him us as some kind of “hero” to young Black men and boys, saying that he’s modeling how to take a stand against the racist manipulation of the Black male image. The only thing Mr. Lynch is modeling is how to not fulfill obligations of your job that you agreed to do, how to create major media attention for doing it, and how to still get paid while breaching a contract you signed.

Think about it…do we really want to teach our children that if they’re rich and talented enough, they don’t have to do what they said they would do if they don’t like it? If we’re OK with that, then how do we explain to those same kids that it’s NOT OK when politicians and billionaire company executives do it, but it’s perfectly fine when our favorite athlete does it?

When I think of athletes taking a stand, I think of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two US track and field athletes who actually did protest against the persistent racial inequality in America during the award ceremony of the 1968 Olympics. I think of the members of the Cleveland Browns wearing “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” t-shirts. I think of all the athletes across the sports spectrum – professional and amateur – who wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts after the killing of Eric Garner. I don’t see Marshawn Lynch’s behavior as taking a stand against anything that has been unjustly done to him, or to anyone else, for that matter. I know he acts like he’s aggrieved and he acts like he’s being targeted and put upon by all this attention, but he’s not any more of a target of the media than what he made of himself, and he’s certainly no more of a target than any other elite professional athlete who does attention-grabbing things when in the spotlight. And Mr. Lynch knew what he was in for when he signed that contract. Everybody who signs that contract knows exactly what they’re in for with the media – they’ve seen it all played out in the lives of their football heroes that they grew up watching on television! There’s no mystery to this game!!

I believe Marshawn Lynch’s behavior has netted him lots of media attention, which helped give him a catchy angle for those endorsements, which has been good for him. He’s not the first athlete to do that, and he will not be the last.  But it seems that in our rush to defend and lionize a young Black man who is seems to be creating his own controversy and benefiting from it, we’ve set a questionable standard for our children.  As amusing as Marshawn Lynch’s antics may have been, I can’t cosign or support them, because I think doing that is bad for us.

Oh…the other thing that kind of galls me about this whole Mysterious Marshawn media storm?  Is that once again, for the second year in a row, the media attention has been all on the showboats on the Seahawks team, while the amazing young Black man at the helm, Russell Wilson, has been almost completely overlooked.

But that’s just my own little side-issue…

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Teaching Our Children Respectability Politics Isn’t Going To Keep Them From Getting Shot

It’s November 25, 2014, the day after Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown to death. With Black parents once again trying to come to grips with what they tell their children; especially their precious, beautiful little brown boys; I see a lot of people on Facebook saying that they’re going to teach their kids to pull their pants up, speak proper English, be respectful of authority and such, I suppose in the hopes that teaching their kids these things will – hopefully – reduce the possibility of them being harassed, unfairly detained, or worse, shot to death by a police officer.

I’m not a parent. I need to say that up front, right now and make it clear. So for a lot of parents, what I have to say might automatically be considered void. But I hope that some of you frightened, sad and confused parents (because if I were a parent and had a little boy, I’d be sitting there looking at him with tears in my eyes, wondering how we could pick up roots and move somewhere he could grow up in safety – like maybe Canada) will read my words despite my lack of parenting experience.

I simply do not agree that teaching our Black children to behave and present themselves better is going to make people treat them better.  I don’t believe this because this has been proven not to be true time and again throughout the history of Black people in this country. Black men and boys weren’t being lynched because they were thugs, sagging their pants and loitering in front of stores. The Tulsa, OK town of Greenwood; called “Black Wall Street;” wasn’t raided, bombed from the air (the first time a plane was used to drop a bomb in the US – how’s that for history) burned to the ground, and thousands of innocent Blacks massacred because those folks were a bunch of shiftless, lazy, trifling looking and acting thugs who had too many fatherless babies. Neither was any of that the reason for the massacre and destruction of Black people and communities in Rosewood, FL; Atlanta, GA and other communities that were ravaged by racial violence against Blacks.  In all of those instances and in other cases, Black Americans were doing their best to live their part of the American dream – they established their own communities, they were self-sufficient, they didn’t rely on the government for help, they centered their lives around their communities and their families.  They were doing everything that they should have been doing, but it didn’t matter, they were still destroyed.

In fact, successful African American men are racially profiled by law enforcement to this day. Most people have heard talk of  “driving while Black,” we’ve seen how “walking while Black” has been working out in places like New York City.   Now we can add “home-owning while Black” to the list of indignities suffered by Black people — Black men — who have done everything right in American society. A recent essay by a retired Major League Baseball player in the Atlantic relays the latest example of the automatic suspicion even wealthy and notable Black men who live in nice neighborhoods have to deal with when dealing with law enforcement. Doing nothing more than shoveling snow in his driveway, the disrespect shown wasn’t even apologized for.  Because when Black men are treated poorly by law enforcement, it isn’t considered necessary to give them the basic human courtesy of an apology, because Black men are too often viewed as automatically guilty and need to constantly prove their innocence.

I think it should be quite clear by now that it doesn’t matter what you do in this country, no matter how successful you become, no matter how well you play by the rules, if you are Black, especially a Black man, you are going to be treated like absolute garbage by some people, and some of those people are in positions that wield vast authority – even over life and death.

But please understand me; I am not saying we should not teach our children to behave and dress and speak well. Who doesn’t want their children to look spiffy and be nice to others and not get into trouble? I doubt very seriously that any decent parent wants or encourages their child to be a disheveled, profane delinquent, no matter what we might think judging by the behavior of some young folks that annoy us “old heads” so much.

What I am saying is that we should teach our precious Black children to behave and present themselves well because it is the right thing to do and it is good for them and our community. Look your best, carry yourself well and behave with respect toward others because those are the kinds of things mature, conscious and responsible human beings who live in a community of people do; but don’t do any of that because you think it will compel racist White people to hopefully respect you more. This idea that teaching our children to dress well and speak properly will somehow shield them to some degree from the racism they would have received had they looked like a wanna-be rapper is a fallacy we need to let go of.

If you recall the footage and images of the police response to the peaceful demonstrators during the Civil Rights era, none of those kids who were water cannoned or attacked by dogs or beaten with billy clubs or dragged to paddy wagons or spat on while sitting at lunch counters were sagging their pants, wearing provocative clothes, or sporting or exhibiting the latest anti-social teenaged trend in fashion and rebellious behavior.  Starched shirts, ties, slacks, skirts, blouses, bobby socks, shined shoes and respectful demonstrations of civil disobedience, every single one of them.  If proper comportment didn’t protect us back then, and it has continued to not deter us from experiencing encounters with racists, why in the world do we continue to believe it will protect our children now?  That’s like…giving your kid a weapon you know damn well didn’t protect you to somehow protect them in a continuing war.  That’s…irresponsible.

Let me be clear: I’m not a fan of sagging pants. If we had a son I’d like to believe The Hubs and I would tell the kid to not let them sag so low we can see all of his drawers.  The Hubs would probable be on him not to sag at all.  I’m sure I’d insist on a belt most of the time. But if he’s going with his friends to the movies, I don’t think we’d require him to put on a suit so as not to have the theater patrons mistakenly think he’s going to rob them. I’m not crazy about boys wearing baseball caps everywhere all the time. If we had a son, we’d certainly teach him to take his hat off inside.  Hubs would probably pop the kid in the back of that head as a reminder once or twice.  But I don’t think we’d believe he’d become a reprobate heathenthugcriminal if he left his snapback on inside a time or two. I abhor some of the new slang. I have no idea what the heck “fleek” means, and please don’t tell me because I probably don’t want to know. If we had a son, we’d teach him not to say “KnowwhatImsayin” every three words and to not use so much slang when he talks to us and other adults. But I don’t think we’d believe he’d forgotten all his education and manners if he spoke with the latest and most annoying slang ever while socializing with his friends.

But the important thing is that I know that regardless of how my fictional son would carry and present himself, there are those in this country who will believe every negative stereotype about him, not because of the clothes he has on his back or the words that come out of his mouth, but solely because of the skin that boy would be in.  That’s their unfortunate and willing and persistent psychosis – it is the persistent psychosis of a nation, actually – and just I can’t see myself burdening my fictitious kid with the responsibility of assuaging a nation’s racially-based paranoia.

I’ve been seeing people say we need to teach our children to love and obey God as a response to this situation from some of my Christian friends.  I agree with the; I also firmly believe we need to teach our children to pray and rely on a God who is more powerful than any human power, and who in fact approves all authority for His own purposes. Some of that authority doesn’t make sense to me, but God’s purposes are so much bigger and broader and wider than what I want and understand of the world.  So I think we do need to teach our children to honor and respect and love God. And not be ashamed about it, regardless of how unpopular Christianity or Christians or the Bible or God or Jesus is in society today.  I would tell our fictitious son that the minute those people who have a problem with your faith have a heaven or a hell to put you in, that is the moment you can give a crap about their opinion about your faith.  Otherwise, respectfully agree to disagree and respect and love them like Christ loves you.  And that’s a good thing to teach our kids, to love God, so He can teach us to love others like He loves us. Who loses with that?  If a real relationship with Jesus is lived out as it should be, our relationships with other people will be better for it. And I don’t mean teach our children to “be Christians,” I mean teach our children to LOVE GOD.  So yes, by all means we need to teach our kids to pray, and dear God do we need to pray for them ceaselessly. But sadly, too many Christian parents stop at teaching about Jesus and praying, and I really think we need to be teaching our beautiful Black children much more than that.

I firmly believe we need to teach our children to fight. Fight a system designed to keep them failing, to keep them marginalized, to keep them at the bottom and keep them dependent because the system has convinced them that they cannot and never will win.  I’m not talking about political parties here, because some will go there.  The system was created and grown by BOTH major political parties because our disenfranchisement benefits them both in different ways.  No political party in their current incarnations are our friends, so this isn’t an endorsement of any party’s ideology.

We need to teach our amazing Black children to fight that system for justice and our rights within the boundaries of the law — we need to learn the system to fight and change the system!  So I believe we need to make sure our kids know the law – Constitutional, State and Local – as much as they can, know their rights, respond within the law when those rights are trampled, and know how to express their righteous anger in a focused, constructive and effective way.

I believe we need to teach our children the political process. If you don’t know it, then you and your kids need to learn it together. Get them involved in local civics and teach them the importance of VOTING. Teach our children to get to know and even write to their elected officials, to attend public hearings and to openly and rigorously question authority when authority behaves questionably, and this INCLUDES the police. I believe we absolutely need to teach our children that it’s not every cop who is after us, not every politician who is disrespecting us, but it is a system of oppression that has for centuries used law enforcement and politics and public policy to oppress us and keep us that way. And I believe we need to teach our children that they can change that. Maybe it will take a lot of time, sure; and definitely it will be hard, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done.  So we need to teach them to work on doing it. And if WE don’t know how, then what better way to develop a bond with your children than to learn how this system works so you can teach them to protect themselves against it TOGETHER?  Talk about leaving a legacy.

I believe history has taught us over and over again this one critical truth: no matter how much Black folks do everything right in this country, there are going to be people in authority who will always look at us as a bunch of animals who need to be controlled, contained and cut down. Absolutely we need to do better in our communities, yes we do, but we need to do that because it’s good for us. But we need to change the system because, quite frankly, it’s good for America.

And it’s going to take more than a nice suit and erudite oratory to do that.

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Revisiting a Previous Post and Second, Third and Some More Thoughts

After today’s release of the video of Ray and Janay Rice inside the elevator, I had to go back and re-read my post about the initial controversy. At that time, the only information there was to go on was the video from outside of the elevator, the police report, and the statements from the two involved.

Today’s video shed more light on the situation.

I’m not going to post the video – we’ve all seen it by now. And after reading my initial post in the light of the newly-released video, I would say most of what I said again. With the exception of one thing: Ray Rice had no reason to hit Janay Palmer the way he did.

I was originally operating under the understanding that Janay Palmer (now Rice) completely swung on Ray Rice a few times. After all, she admitted that she hit him. After seeing the video today, it can be seen that before they got in the elevator, it appears that she did open hand him in the face. If you watch some news and legal programs, they conveniently leave that part of the video out. That’s a whole ‘nother subject on media bias right there, but I digress.

They get in the elevator, he is next to her, there is some contact that is clearly a bit testy. Then Ray Rice is on the other side of the elevator. Then Janay Palmer rushes toward him. Then he hits her so hard that she falls sideways and hits her head, falling to the elevator floor.

There really isn’t a reasonable defense for the way he hit her. The release of this video should bring the issue to a neat and tidy conclusion, but it just brings more messy questions up for me. Questions like:

Who had this video, and why did they wait this long to release it?

Did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh see this video when the initial ruling against Ray Rice was made? (They say they did not see it until today. Judging by how fast the Jay-Z/Solange video circulated when it was leaked, I tend to believe them – the Internet can’t keep secrets.)

Did the DA have access to this video when they agreed to the deal with Ray Rice?

If Ray Rice, having had his day in court, was already in a court-approved program, should the NFL have basically fired him because they suddenly had video of the actions Rice admitted he committed and was already being punished for?

Remember Ben Roethlisberger’s multiple rape accusations? Why is he still a quarterback in the NFL?

I hate that all this happened at all. And I really hate that I come away from the release of this video today with more questions than I had when this mess began a few months ago.

 

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Kevin Sorbo and My Own Personal Facebook/Internet Activism

As I was cruising the Interwebs today I came across this article on Huffingtonpost.com about comments Kevin Sorbo made on his Facebook page about the goings-on in Ferguson, MO: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/21/kevin-sorbo-ferguson-animals-losers_n_5697647.html.

I became LIVID. Now, I am not a huge Kevin Sorbo fan, so I wasn’t hurt or angry that the remarks came from him. I think it was simply a case of “injustice overload” for me. In the wake of the recent events in Ferguson, MO (Mike Brown), Staten Island, NY (Eric Garner), and Beavercreek, OH (John Crawford), I think I just became completely fed up with the stereotypical “angry lazy Black people are the problem with this country” rhetoric that I’d been hearing from conservative politicians, commentators, and the people who believe and support them. So, honestly, I’ve been holding on to my fed-up-ness for YEARS.  I was SO angry that I posted this, after editing it a few times after checking my facts and numbers (which is why you shouldn’t post things when you’re really angry), to Kevin Sorbo’s official Facebook page:

“Here’s what really bothers me about your comments – you accused an entire race of people for being angry for what we’ve gotten after “years of not trying.” Listen, I don’t expect White people to understand what it’s like to be stereotyped, profiled, denied services or access, to be treated differently or rudely or to be dismissed because of the color of your skin – you’ve never lived that, so of course you don’t understand. But just because you have never experienced it and don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. Conservative politicians and too many of their supporters have thrown the “race card” accusation at anyone who points out racism in a situation in an effort to shut the conversation down, as if it’s not a conversation worth having. Whether we want to have the conversation or not, that doesn’t negate the fact that RACISM STILL EXISTS IN SO MANY FORMS TODAY that do still affect Black people.

We have never dealt with the government policies that educationally and economically disenfranchised an entire race of people – an entire group of AMERICANS – and continued to do so well into the 70s. Do you want to know why Black families have so much less wealth accumulation as opposed to White families? Because the federal government was complicit in keeping Black families from buying homes in neighborhoods that weren’t redlined specifically for them – we couldn’t buy anywhere we wanted to. And when we wanted to buy a home, banks wouldn’t loan us money. And when we did secure some kind of financing, it was from predatory, unfair lenders who took advantage of Black people with dreams of owning a home. Owning a home is the single greatest way in which American families accumulate and pass on wealth. And Black Americans were systematically denied that opportunity. Google and research “redlining” to find out the sordid and very recent history of the practice. But people won’t even admit these types of things happened, and if they do, they believe it’s “ancient history” and that we Black folks should just get over it and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.

Any attempt to have an honest discussion about how this country’s government willingly oppressed its own people is seen as “whining,” “looking for excuses,” and “blaming the White man.”   Black people are made out to be this lurking enemy that is sucking the financial resources of this country dry by sitting on our behinds, having babies and collecting welfare, when the truth is welfare payments to EVERYONE (surprise, surprise, plenty of White people receive welfare, too) in this country make up about 12% of the budget, but that includes Social Security and Medicaid; while the DoD takes up almost 20% and LOSES BILLIONS, but no one points to THAT as a serious problem to the country’s fiscal health. It’s just those lazy, welfare-collecting, handout-demanding Blacks. We’re made out to be the demons of “entitlement” fraud, when Social Security is a large part of funding for “entitlements.”  But since when did receiving the benefits that you worked all your life for somehow wrong?  Well it is if we’re the ones receiving them. We’re made out to be the ones who are destroying this country, along with the Black guy “we” put in the White House, but when we say the over-the-top, ridiculous, baseless and hateful accusations and character assassinations of the President (he’s not American, he’s a Muslim, he wants to destroy America, he’s lawless/an imperialist/a dictator [even though he’s done things almost every other President before him has done, and somehow NONE of them were called lawless, imperial, or anything like it]) are out of bounds and seem racist because they are not based on logic or actual policy disagreements, we’re accused of race baiting and making excuses. Talk about blaming someone else for your problems – poor and Black people have been blamed for the so-called ongoing destruction of this country for the past 8 years or more. All this destruction of a country going on, but somehow, I suppose miraculously, we’re still here. We’re AMERICANS, but we’re blamed for “destroying” the country we love, as if we have no right to be here. But we’ve NEVER been treated like we belong here, and that is the very root of the problem.

I’m trying to help people understand why so many of us are so doggoned angry. I’m sure many people won’t read this far, but I feel so powerless, but so incredibly frustrated that I have to try SOMETHING, so I hope many will. Understand, I’m NOT justifying the rioters in Ferguson – there is no justification for that. Over 90% of the people arrested for the violence there weren’t even from Ferguson, so some of those people really were there just to make trouble. But most were not. The news media – both liberal AND conservative outlets – didn’t give fair coverage to all the peaceful protests and meetings that took place there; they focused solely on the rioting. That’s not right, but it’s yet another example of how the rest of society paints us in a particular way, makes up its mind about all of us, and doesn’t actually listen to us at all. And we are angry because of that. We try to function in this social and political climate that has played on this Us vs. Them mentality, and many of us simply feel like we aren’t seen as human beings, let alone Americans. We feel like we have no rights, when White Americans come together to support a man who refused to obey the law by pointing loaded weapons at Federal law enforcement officials and law enforcement backs away, but the alleged theft of some doggoned CIGARS FROM A CONVENIENCE STORE is used to justify SHOOTING A BLACK KID WHO HAD NO WEAPON ON HIM TO DEATH. White kids who HAD PLANS to kill students and teachers in their school are arrested without incident – one even ran away from the police – but a Black man holding A TOY GUN IN THE TOY SECTION OF WALMART IS SHOT DEAD by police. We’re tired of always being portrayed and treated as a threat, as criminals, as depraved and ignorant FIRST, before people seem to remember that we’re Americans and we’re finally afforded our Constitutional rights of peaceable assembly and to petition our government, to bear arms to protect ourselves and our families, and to have due process in a court of law. We’re tired of being told we should just let the authorities abuse us and trample on our rights if we don’t want to get hurt. NOBODY else has to endure that but us.

We’re tired of the “you’re poor because you’re lazy,” “stop whining and go to work,” “you’re destroying America” rhetoric from politicians and the conservative commentators who have awakened this hateful frenzy in this country. We’re even more disgusted that so many Americans still believe this garbage. We know that they are just playing on the deep-seated fears and prejudices of White Americans who believe non-Whites are going to destroy their way of life. But when we say that, we’re told we’re just playing the race card. We’re tired of trying to get people to come to terms with the shameful history of not just slavery, but the many, many years of segregation, terrorism, oppression and denial that Blacks suffered AFTER slavery, and admit that we are STILL suffering from the effects of all of that. Yes, some of the responsibility for our situation IS on us, BUT IT IS NOT ALL OUR FAULT. We were practically set up to fail, and few people outside of our own community want to admit all the sordid details involved.

It is a crushing, sinking feeling to be an American, and not feel like other Americans see you that way.”

Isn’t my best writing, I know; but was writing-while-angry!

Then it dawned on me…all the conservative commentators, politicians and celebrities who have espoused the ideas that Kevin Sorbo recently have, also have social media platforms. So I will be copying this post, and dropping it on a few more pages. I might even plop it in the comments sections of a few online periodicals where these types of senitments are being expressed.  Admittedly, it may not be much, but it is the one thing that is within my power to do to change the course and the tone of the narrative in this country, or at least to give another voice to the mounting frustration of many Americans.  At least I can say I tried to do SOMETHING.

What are you going to do?

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Outrage At Injustice Cannot Outweight Compassion

Where the heck do I start…

If I had a son, I wouldn’t know what to tell him these days. Should he trust the police? Should he be wary of all of them? What should he do if he’s approached by one? Or five? How should he conduct himself to get home alive? How does he tell a “bad cop” from a “good cop?” It terrifies me and utterly breaks my heart that this is the conversation going on in the heads of so many parents of little Black boys these days, and I have no answers. That’s what scares me the most.

Here’s a thought, though…how do the decent cops feel?? The Black cops and the White cops, the Hispanic, Asian, Female, whatever cops. How do the decent cops feel when it appears that yet another overzealous White police officer has taken policing too far, and taken a Black or Brown life? How do the good cops feel when they see on the news that an entire neighborhood of Black or Brown people isn’t’ just frustrated with them, doesn’t just mistrust them, but they are terrified of them, they hate them, the whole neighborhood sees all cops as one big gang that’s sanctioned to take life at their leisure with no consequences… But I shouldn’t wonder how the police feel, because apparently I’m not supposed to care about them.

Sometimes I am afraid for my husband, I know that much. I’m a Christian and God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, I know THAT much. And I also know we live in a sinful, fallen, debauched world where we place values on people’s lives based on our prejudices and preconceived notions. How can I NOT know all of THAT? What do the authorities see when they see my loving, hilarious, kind, loves-cuddly-animals-and-loves-being-cuddled husband? I’m afraid to answer the question. It angers me that if confronted by police officers and some people of different races, my husband will have to PROVE THAT HE IS NOT A THREAT, while most men who are not Black and big like him are treated as innocent until proven guilty – i.e., they will be treated with a level of respect my husband might not get. No, not by everybody would treat him that way, but I know that too many people might treat him badly for me to feel all the way safe when he’s out of my sight. I pray for him like you wouldn’t believe. No, you probably would believe how hard I pray for him, because if he is a Black man, you pray for your husband – and brothers, uncles, fathers, and sons – just as hard.

Truth be told, I wonder how people of different races see ME. Am I seen as a threat until I prove otherwise, too? Is that what all we Black people are to other folks – threats and criminals? Honestly, I’ve been wondering how people of other races see me for a while now, given our rapidly declining political climate. Do they see me as just another lazy taker who only wants a handout to feed all my babies from different baby daddies? Do they see me and people who look like me as the sole source of this country’s problems, the same country that we’re apparently trying to take from hard-working White Republicans? But that’s another rant…

I’m angry – no, scratch that – I’m mad as raging hell at the opportunistic, knuckleheads who took advantage of a community’s expression of legitimate anger and sorrow and turned it into another excuse for the police to come in like an occupying force and repress a people’s freedom of expression. I understand anger and frustration boiling over, I understand feeling powerless and also feeling like you have no outlet for it. When the Greek (got my countries wrong) government defaulted on their loans and plunged the economy into chaos, guess what the citizens did – they rioted. Really, when ANY people have become fed up with their government not protecting them or taking advantage of them in some way, a riot usually follows a protest, happens all the time all around the world at least once a week. I’m not condoning it, I’m just pointing out that Black folks aren’t the only people who get so fed up with injustice that it spills over into anger. But STEALING RIMS AND WEAVE DOES NOT HELP ADDRESS OUR PROBLEMS!! I saw on the news that someone spray painted “Snitches get stiches” on one of the boards put over a broken storefront window. Please know that I’D SNITCH ON ALL Y’ALL IF YOU’RE JUST RANDOMLY STEALING CRAP, AND IF WE WANT OUR NEIGHBORHOODS TO BE UNITED AGAINST OUTSIDE OPPRESSION, YOU SHOULD TOO!! We’re being destroyed from the outside AND from within, and we’re making excuses for the destructive element in our midst. STOP. THAT.   Rat them bammas out today!

I never think I can despise corporate-owned media more than I already do, until it gives me a reason to despise it even more. Focusing more on the looting and less on Mike Brown’s death is typical media spin. In ratings-driven, corporate-owned media outlets, sensationalism leads. Talking about the incident and events that led up to Mike Brown being shot to death just isn’t as exciting as talking about all that senseless, violent looting. “Look, they’re burning and stealing things!!!” That’s what people want to see, so that’s what the media reports. THAT’S what I’m angry at corporate media about. Not for reporting on Robin Williams’ death, though. And speaking of that…

Robin Williams’ death is tragic, too. It is a tragedy all its own, of a different kind, completely unrelated to that of the murder of Mike Brown. How people have managed to connect the two to justify the idea that Black folks should be more concerned with Mike Brown’s death more than Robin Williams’ because, well, Williams isn’t “one of us” and we need to “care for our own;” and to justify the idea that Williams’ death shouldn’t be as important to Black people as Mike Brown’s because Williams took his life after [allegedly] suffering for years with depression and drug addiction, and Mike Brown’s life was taken from him after [allegedly] suffering racial profiling by a police officer disturbs me to my very core. (All the details haven’t come out about either, so in fairness and some kind of journalistic integrity, I have to say [alleged] until the whole truth on both is revealed.)

Do people really mean to say that the struggle and suffering of someone who’s skin isn’t as dark as mine for a reason other than racially-motivated violence is irrelevant? Do people really mean that if I care about the struggle and suffering of someone who is not Black, and whose struggle and suffering are different from ours, then I’m somehow not Black enough, not “conscious” enough, not down enough with my people and our struggle?

And that’s not racist…how?   Before you respond with, “Black people can’t be racist:”

rac·ism[1]

noun \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\

: poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race

: the belief that some races of people are better than others

Full Definition of RACISM

1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2: racial prejudice or discrimination

Black people are perfectly capable of treating people of other races poorly solely because of their race, and we are certainly capable of believing that we are better than other races of people.  Not all of us do this, not all of us feel this way, but there are indeed Black folks who are blatantly racist.  You think those Black folks on Facebook and Twitter calling White people “cave beast” and “cracker” and “whitey” are just joking?  They’re just as serious with their hate as White people who call Blacks “nigger” and “darkie” and whatever other hateful name they use.  But, just to be really clear, if you feel compelled to call yourself “prejudiced” instead:

prej·u·dice[2]

noun\ˈpre-jə-dəs\

: an unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, etc.

: a feeling of like or dislike for someone or something especially when it is not reasonable or logical

Full Definition of PREJUDICE

1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially: detriment to one’s legal rights or claims

2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

b: an instance of such judgment or opinion

c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

Yeah, that sounds so much better.

I’ve got plenty of outrage about Mike Brown. And Eric Garner. And John Crawford (oh, we’re so outraged about Mike Brown, but not John Crawford? Well, just how Black are YOU??). And Renisha McBride. And Trayvon Martin. And all of the other Black and Brown men and women who have been racially profiled and subsequently murdered by MMA-trained, probably steroid-loaded, storm trooper-minded police officers and closeted racist private citizens. But I cannot and will not allow my outrage at the injustices committed against us to blind me or make me calloused toward the suffering of someone else.

It breaks my heart that anyone should suffer from depression so deep, and drug addiction so persistent, that they feel so hopeless that they just give up fighting like Robin Williams apparently did, leaving behind family and friends who loved him dearly, but who may not have known how to help, or that he even needed it as desperately as he did. We assign so much shame to people who suffer from depression and addiction, sending people cowering and suffering alone in silence and shadows. Then when they are overwhelmed by either, we shame them some more, even to the point of dismissing their deaths as irrelevant because “they did it to themselves.” That’s hateful. Especially for Christians, that’s some grace-less, compassionless, un-Christ-like hatefulness. What’s worse, it’s dehumanizing, and most of us Black folks know what it feels like to be treated as if we’re seen as less than human, or not as important.

And that’s why this whole morass of the Robin Williams/Mike Brown connection/comparison is so disturbing to me…less than human or not as important is how someone saw Mike Brown. And Eric Garner. And John Crawford. And Renisha. And Trayvon. Why the heck would we want anyone else to feel like that.

 

[1] “Racism.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism&gt;.

[2] “Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice&gt;.

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The Domestic Abuse Double Standard

I have a serious problem with the way Ray Rice, Stephen A. Smith, John Harbaugh, and Roger Goodell have been treated in this whole Ray Rice business. People have responded to these men as if this is a case of some brutish football player (Ray Rice) who just pummeled his girl for sport and all the men around him are patting him on the back and winking while they slap him on the wrist for his heinous crimes. But that is not the whole story. According to CNN, the Atlantic City police report noted this:

“After reviewing surveillance footage it appeared both parties were involved in a physical altercation…” [emphasis added]

Because of what was seen on that video, which apparently is not the video that was released to the media that we’ve all seen, the Atlantic City police charged both then-Ms. Palmer and Mr. Rice with simple assault against each other. However, all that changed. According to what was reported in a Sports Illustrated blog:

Rice initially faced a charge of simple assault after allegedly striking Palmer unconscious inside an elevator at Revel Casino just before 3 a.m. on Feb. 15. But a grand jury returned with a more serious charge of aggravated assault; Palmer was also charged with assault, but prosecutors dismissed those charges [emphasis added].”

So here’s what appears to have happened: the police reviewed surveillance tape and decided that they were beating on each other and charged them both accordingly, but prosecutors decided to drop the charges against Ms. Palmer and only go after Ray Rice. I have to take an aside here and say that at first I didn’t understand why they would do that, but after yesterday’s press conference, I got to thinking… maybe Mr. Rice agreed to do that to protect his fiancé. I can almost buy that judging from that press conference, where he basically took the blame for everything, put it ALL on his shoulders, declared his wife an angel… That’s great that he’s owning up to his part in it, as he certainly should, but let’s be honest here…she bears some responsibility in this, too. She said she did. So why is everyone else so unwilling to talk about that?

Mr. Rice has been painted as an evil, brutal abuser, but his now-wife really hasn’t had to answer for her part in the altercation whatsoever. While she is certainly not a woman who “provoked her abuser,” as so many people have accused Stephen A. Smith of saying in his comments about the incident (that’s not what he was saying, it is NOT WHAT HE SAID AT ALL), she did hit her fiancé during that fight. And even though Mrs. Rice went to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and pleaded for leniency for her husband, and has stated that she regrets her role in the incident, it is Mr. Rice who has taken the fall for the whole thing, both judicially and in the court of public opinion, largely because he has the misfortune of being a man, and he hit her after and harder than she hit him. Make no mistake, let me be abundantly clear, don’t get it in any way twisted – I AM NOT trying to turn around and vilify Mrs. Rice in order to defend her husband. I just think that to act as if she had no role to speak of in this incident conveys a terrible double standard that women can physically assault men with no reprisals, but a man responding to a woman’s physical assault isn’t self-defense – it’s seen as just another form of a man abusing a woman. I don’t care how politically correct you want to be, that is wrong.

The fact that few people in this society are allowed to say that, ESPECIALLY not men (a la Stephen A. Smith), without being accused of supporting and encouraging abuse, protecting abusers and blaming the victims of abuse, is ridiculous. It further cements the idea that it’s ok for us to vilify Ray Rice as an abuser while we completely ignore his fiancé’s physical assault of him. To further confirm that idea is the fact that on The View, Whoopi Goldberg agreed with Stephen A. Smith, to a large degree anyway; but she wasn’t suspended from her job like Mr. Smith was from his.  The public response to this incident seems to send the message that women are never wrong, women are always victims, women can never ever be the aggressors, women are never responsible for our behavior and actions, and if you know what’s good for you, you’d better not ever disagree with that or suggest anything to the contrary. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A MAN.

As a woman, I am incredibly insulted that other women refuse to acknowledge the fact that there are some of us who do indeed provoke men. I’m not talking about the “What-did-you-do-to-make-him-angry-enough-to-hit-you” type of BS that has been asked of some women who have been abused, and that some have misguidedly used to condemn Stephen A. Smith’s comments. I’m talking about actual, physical aggression and assault initiated by women against men. Don’t act like you don’t know where or when that could ever possibly happen; you know doggoned well that some of our favorite guilty-pleasure television shows and widely-circulated You Tube and Facebook videos highlight the behavior of aggressive, unapologetically disrespectful, verbally and physically abusive women who not only assault other women, but they also seem to make a sport of assaulting men.

Look, we know that society has trained men to NEVER hit women under any circumstances. Well, too many women use that knowledge to justify assaulting men. Some feel they have a RIGHT to do it because we women are now EMPOWERED, WE DON’T NEED YOU, MEN, and WE NEED TO SHOW YOU THAT WE ARE AS BIG AND BAD AS YOU, YOU WON’T RULE US, YOU’RE OUR B**CH!! Don’t be shocked, you know that’s what some of us think, because we applaud the women on the Real Housewives, Love and Hip Hop, Bad Girls Club, or whatever ignorant “reality” show we love to watch for treating men this way. We high-five each other on the female aggressor’s violent behavior, bestowing the title “Bad Bi**ch” on her for her prowess in being more man than the man she’s attacking. And while the man in the situation is trying his best to do what’s been drilled into his head since he was a toddler – to walk away and not hit a girl – we laugh at him, calling him a punk and a simp and gay.  Oh, but all this is ok, though, because it’s just entertainment.  But if that man decides to defend himself, then we get all indignant and call HIM the abuser.  We women are always screaming about the double standards society imposes on us, but we won’t admit that THIS is a double standard we impose upon men. You want to talk about blaming the victim? In situations where the woman is the aggressor – and those situations absolutely DO EXIST – we women are EXPERTS at blaming the victim. Do we really wonder why men aren’t willing to report that they are being abused by their wives/female partners??

This incident with Ray Rice and his wife has really caused me to look hard at how women treat men these days. Yes, there was a time when men abusing women wasn’t taken seriously, when women were told it was our fault, when we could get no justice or relief from a partner or husband who beat us because he felt like it, when we had to suffer in silence and shame. And it is still more difficult than it should be for women to receive the support they need from law enforcement and the courts to safely leave their abusers. These things are absolutely true.  But these things being true do not make it right to characterize a man as an abuser because he hit a woman who hit him, and absolve the woman of all responsibility.

Look, from everything we know, this was a case of a couple who were out partying, got drunk, got into an argument, she hit him, he hit her harder and the videotape the public saw only showed him getting her out of the elevator after the entire exchange was over. Should he have hit her back? Wasn’t the best idea, no – but you generally don’t make great decisions when you’re drunk. The same should be said about her.  But does that make him an abuser? NO, IT DOES NOT! Because to say that it does would also make her an abuser for hitting him.  And I don’t think she’s an abuser, either.

What I do think is that they were both silly and immature in their behavior, they both need to grow up and do some things better and differently, they both need forgiveness and grace (because we all ned those things for all the stupid stuff we’ve done, and we’ve all done some stupid stuff), and we all really should have just left it at that. But because he is a man, and because he is a famous man who is in the in public eye, he was made to be the face of domestic abusers; she was made to be the victim, and he was made an example of.  And that is just not right.

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