by Lavern Marriweather
Not long ago, I wrote a post about the nasty verbal altercation between an elderly male Cleveland, Ohio bus driver and a female rider who was being extremely belligerent with him that caused the altercation to become physical. In my post I stated that I felt the bus driver was to some extent in the right, and I say ‘some’ because both sides behaved badly. After my commentary was posted Brotha Wolf, posted his own rebuttal where he disagreed with what I and some commenters said, namely that whatever the female passenger said (or in this case did), that should not justify his actions because she is a woman and a black woman on top of that. So, her life is a series of ‘isms’, and that can most certainly provoke someone enough that even if their target didn’t begin the altercation. He should be sensitive to her marginalized status in the world. And be prepared to back off even if she did something wrong to him first, he’s supposed to handle it in the best and most professional way possible. And to that I say WHAT?!!
With all due respect Brotha wolf (and trust me, it’s a lot), I won’t be sharing your viewpoint on this one. Being a second class citizen and being marginalized by society does not grant you ANY right to be asshole to anyone, nor should you get away with it and expect someone to be understanding of what you go through as a woman. Regardless of gender and the treatment we get – because of that gender – we are all individuals who should not allow labels or stereotypes to absolve us of our own personal accountability.
There was even another video Brotha Wolf posted of a woman on a train in Australia who appears to be very inebriated and is getting into several verbal arguments with some young men also traveling on the train. She then proceeds to get up from her seat and starts berating them at a closer distance. Then, she takes a swing at a man standing right next to her who was doing nothing but minding his own business. I noticed that many of the comments for that video mentioned the issue of misogyny. Excuse me, but I feel there is nothing misogynist about putting a stupid, sloppy drunk in their place regardless of what her sex happens to be. I don’t see many women, especially black women, going there with the video of an elderly black female bus driver beating the holy crap out of a mouthy black female teen in Baltimore.
I don’t know if verbal sparring matches and fights on public transit are becoming an epidemic. I certainly hope not. However we can’t be so quick to boil it down to just black and white when there are many shades of gray. There are many different factors at play.
It could just be that transit employees, particularly those who come from the old school, are fed up with a lot of the shit they see happening every day as they try to work. It’s not easy having to deal with the public day-in and day-out, including those who have some frequent frustrations and then want to take it out on you.
I used to have a friend who was a bus driver in Chi- Town who told me that riders would give him grief whenever the fare went up or because service was slow in certain neighborhoods. And he was lamenting to me that he has no control over that. It’s not his fault that the ride has gotten more expensive or too loud and unruly. It’s stupid, rude fellow passengers that are to blame like the ones who are dumb enough to attack a driver when he is in the middle of doing his job or can’t seem to appreciate that grown folks from a different era aren’t going to tolerate your disrespect. That has nothing to do with your gender. It does, however, have everything to do with the type of person you are.
I, myself, am very tempted, often times, when I hear people talking at the highest decibel possible on their cell phone to take that phone and shove it from their backside right through their left eyeball or when I hear a group of annoying giggly teen girls who feel the incessant need to holler about who is going with them to the plaza that evening to wrap them all together in one giant sling and fling their asses to Siberia. And it’s not just public transit either. At the movies, restaurants, banks, post office, sometimes even in church, people can really act a fool with one another where most times women are the worst of the bunch. Yet, we can’t make excuses because one person has more X chromosomes than the other. That ain’t good enough, because I will tell you this much. If I were either one of those bus drivers and some rider was treating me that way, they be wishing all they got was just a beatdown.