Black Men’s Excuses For Ray Rice Sound A Lot Like The Ones Darren Wilson’s Supporters Used

A fantastic article by Julian Long of The Washington Post

Black men. Fellas. Brothers.

Stop complaining about Ray Rice’s (much deserved and yet woefully insufficient) punishment. Right now.

When they are beaten, slain and otherwise persecuted, our sisters, our mothers, and our women stand for us with nearly unilateral, unwavering support. They march for us. They cry out our names and demand justice. They support us in our moments of quiet fear when we shed the bitter tears of self-doubt and fatigue.

Why aren’t we doing the same?

Stephen A. Smith wasn’t alone in blaming black women for the violence against them. Too many black men are making shameful attempts to explain away the punch that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice laid on his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer. The caught-on-tape abuse earned Rice an indefinite suspension from the NFL this week. That’s the least he should suffer for knocking a woman unconscious. It’s foolish to watch that video and see it any other way.

And yet, black men are complaining about Ray Rice’s punishment and diminishing his actions:

“It couldn’t have been that bad. She married him.”

It doesn’t matter.

“She should know he’s a big man and, if provoked, he’s gonna hit back.”

It doesn’t matter.

“She hit him first.”

It doesn’t matter.

“He’s trained to hit. He can’t stop it. It’s a reflex.”

That’s absurd and, even if it were true, it doesn’t matter.

When you say these kinds of things — when you look for ways to go easy on Ray Rice — you are doing two things: First, you’re telling black women, “Your lives and your sense of safety have less value to me than the recreational sports that I watch ritually.” You’re telling the women who stand for you, cry for you and demand justice for you, “Thanks for all that, but don’t mess with my game.” You damage their feeling of safety with you. You reinforce the perception that they are alone in their struggle. All of that leaves them even more vulnerable in a society that so often leaves them behind.

The second thing you do – and this is irony – is borrow from the script of people like Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s supporters. Let’s compare notes:

“He shouldn’t have been in the street.”

It doesn’t matter.

“He should have listened to the cop.”

It doesn’t matter.

“It was reflex. Cops are trained to shoot to kill. He couldn’t help it.”

Are you seeing the terrifying parallel? None of these excuses matter.

Brothers, recognize wrong and stand up for what’s right. Whatever happened between Ray and Janay Rice, and whatever they did to patch things up, is irrelevant. The bottom line is that no man has business hitting — let alone knocking out — any woman over a spat. He should regard the use of his body against her as lethal force and exercise restraint above all else.

Stop complaining about Ray Rice’s suspension. Stop minimizing his behavior. Stop giving in to blind idol worship.

And stop sipping your tea. This is your business.

When one of our sisters is hurt, abused or in peril, it’s our business. Because when some authority has us jammed against a car with guns drawn on us, they always make it their business to speak out. They throw themselves in peril to see us safe.

It’s a shame when we cannot do the same.


7 thoughts on “Black Men’s Excuses For Ray Rice Sound A Lot Like The Ones Darren Wilson’s Supporters Used

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