When social problems have been colorized or racialized for so long, it can be hard on the targeted group to address that problem without being thrown into the negative stereotype. Even though it must be confronted, the group fears of collective judgments. And so, very little is said and even less gets done about it.
Where am I going with this? Recently NFL’s Ray Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens was fined and put on a two-game suspension for a domestic assault incident involving his wife, then-fiance Janay Palmer. Ray Rice a black male football player.
What he did was wrong, but it gets worse. ESPN’s “First Take” reporter Stephen A. Smith, also a black male, spoke on Rice’s defense stating that it was Palmer who provoked Rice which resulted in her getting beat up. Smith apologized, but it was insincere. And even though his ass is suspended as well, he and Rice did way more damage than many people think.
Black men in America are burdened with the stigma of being prone to violence. We see and hear about it all the time in news reports and in entertainment media. Somewhere at this moment, a black man assaulted, stabbed or murdered someone, and the local news is rushing to get the quick story.
However, there is an added spice to this recipe. Black men are also seen as brutes towards women, especially white women. More precisely, we are seen as animalistic savages yearning for some punany, and we don’t care how we get it. We simple want it by any means, including rape. The black male rapist is a popular stereotype in this country’s imagination.
In recent years, there is yet another variation of the violent black male, the kind that hates, beats up and murders women seemingly without reason. It has been rejuvenated since the infamous beating of pop singer Rihanna by rapper Chris Brown whose violent outbursts are treats for tabloid media outlets. Black male celebrities and athletes who beat up their girlfriends and wives are spotted under the radars of celebrity news and are given exclusive spotlights to the viewing public.
With the situation with Ray Rice and Stephen Smith making the rounds, a few men have spoke out against Rice’s “slap on the wrist”, the NFL’s nonchalant and supportive attitude and Smith’s jackassery. So far, most of the men are white males in the mainstrean like Keith Olbermann, Mitch Alborn, and Mike Lupica. And while it’s good there are men speaking out against domestic violence and the system that could care less, it’s disheartening to see that there haven’t been one brotha that said a word about this and how foul it is, or so it seems.
Damn! Are we the only ones really that messed up that we would beat up women? Are we the only ones that pathetic to think that somehow it’s cool and even funny when looking at numerous videos that highlight ratchetness? Are we the only cats who beat up women – especially black women?
You see, black people face a quandary. Violence has become classified as a “black problem” in the mainstream, and so many of us want to disprove that it’s our responsibility alone. Yet, we know we have the problem of violence in some of our communities, like everywhere else. So many of us have that fear of repercussions from the greater society that we try to keep our skeletons in our closet. But with the news being so heavily focused on black criminals, the closet has more than a few holes in it.
When it comes to how we treat black women, it’s especially wrong, but not limited to just us. If black men beat, rape or murder black women, most black folks don’t come to the aid of the victim. Instead, we do what the rest of society does, protect the males involved while ignoring and even condemning the women. We conclude that somehow, she was the cause of her own ass whooping, and in the end, we give the men a free pass because his reputation of being a “good guy” far exceeds his misogyny. No wonder why the domestic violence against black women is at the rate it is!
Do we seem to have this same cry for this problem whenever famous white men beat up their women? It doesn’t seem like it. There was nary a word made when Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and Robert Downy Jr, just to name a few, were caught in their brutal misogyny and charged for it. If this is a social problem, why does it only seem that way when a famous black man is the perpetrator?
The face of domestic violence – once again – has a black male’s face. I tell myself that this is a social issue and not a black issue. After all, white men are all but innocent of their cruel treatment of women. So, if there must be a conversation about violence against women that pundits want, lets talk and do something about it, and that goes for us black folks as well.