For the last several weeks to months, African Americans across the nation have cried foul about the way African American men are treated. Our collective cries have crossed multiple segments of society. Whether it’s unemployment, police brutality, lack of educational opportunities…the calls for change and improvement have been loud and nonstop.
The Show Me State
Most recently, the town of Ferguson, Missouri was brought to a grinding halt as the issue of police mistreatment and the lack of opportunities for African American men took center stage. Those living in Ferguson protested and those of us living outside of Ferguson found a way to support the protestors. With one uniform voice, a message was heard around the world – the brutality and injustice suffered by African American men must end.
While we wait to see how the issues of Ferguson will be resolved, another African American has been the unfortunate victim of violence and brutality. Yet, strangely and sadly this time, African Americans particularly African American men have been alarmingly quiet.
There have been no acts of civil disobedience. There have been no entrepreneurial t-shirt makers cashing in on a tragedy. There have been no men leading a march shouting rhythmic chants. For the most part, the few men who have had a chance to say something profound have opened their mouths only to give those who think so little of African American men reason to justify their opinions.
Brutality is Brutality Right?
Despite an injustice – a much too regularly occurring brutality to the life bearing member of our community – there have been no school closings, no state mandated curfews, nor theatrical speeches led by our mercenary leaders. This week when the video of Ray Rice punching and knocking out his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, was displayed for all to see, the group that only weeks earlier had erupted in a frenzy about brutality barely even whispered.
The men who ranted about national inequities and called for Government intervention have been faint. The men who demanded justice and Presidential adjudication have been mostly inaudible. The inconspicuous silence of all the national “leaders” who just days earlier craved the podium and microphone is disconcerting. The absence of men who freely shared their angst about violent acts against them and their sons is perplexing. Why are the “leaders” now missing? Why are the men now mute?
Equality For One, Equality For All?
Our lack of outrage, obtuse thinking and trivial attitude about domestic violence subjects African American men to a growing level of skepticisms. Is brutality only relevant in our community when it occurs to Brothers at the hand of a White man? Is violence trivial when the perpetrator’s hand is the closed fist of a black hand which strikes an African American woman?
African American men profess to want equality but too often we only offer inconsistency when it comes to African American women. When a White man brutalizes or takes the life of an African American man we demand justice, sometime retribution, immediately. However, when an African American man balls up his fist and punches an African American woman in her face, we want patience, mercy, and understanding.
African American women can no longer afford to be patient, merciful, or understanding about domestic violence. The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner. Our women, our mothers, our sisters, our children’s mothers are dying and we can’t blame it on anyone but ourselves. African American men are beating and killing those who give us life.
The Time Is Now
We shouldn’t expect Ferguson or any other city in America to change and improve its treatment of African American men unless we are first willing to change and improve our treatment of African American women. The number of African American women who are battered, abused and killed by African American men exceeds the number of violent or deadly encounters African American men have with law enforcement.
It’s time for us to commit as much time and energy to correcting ourselves as we do when we call for the corrections in others. I am eager to live in a world where all of America respects me as a man not solely as an African American man. But I’m more anxious to be a part of a people that cares for and respects each other unequivocally including and especially our women.
BMWK: How do you feel about domestic violence?