September 10, 2014

APPLAUD YOURSELVES FOR POTENTIALLY RUINING JANAY AND RAY RICE’S MARRIAGE: A Response

This post is written in response to this article on Pulsefeedz. I will probably make a lot more sense if you read that first.

Jessie,

I don't do a lot of response pieces but you asked so politely if we could talk. So yes, let's chat.

You first warn me that I might not agree with what you are about to say. And unfortunately, you are right; I do not.

The thing is, you bring up some good points. Such good points, actually, that you had me convinced for a bit that despite your generous warning, I did agree with you. But then it all fell apart.

In your post, you bring up a few questions that I am assuming are supposed to be rhetorical. Normally, I appreciate a good rhetorical but in this case, they are what made me realize that you missed the mark.

Specifically you ask:

If Rice’s prosecutor and his wife were satisfied that he understood how detrimental his actions were, isn’t that all that matters?

Why do you think you have a right to be involved in Ray and Janay Rice’s marriage?

and

The most important question here though is as the public made Ray Rice a scapegoat for domestic violence, how many people thought of Janay Rice?

To answer your first question bluntly: no. And part of the reason for that is also the answer to your second question: We have a right to be involved because he invited us to be.

He invited us into his life by choosing the career he did: an entertainer, whose income is dependent on us, those he entertains. And whether he likes it or not, as an entertainer in this society, he's also an idol and a role model to many. And our idols ultimately are a reflection of us, and of what we value.

So while Ray chose to make his living as a running back (and a somewhat disappointing Fantasy draft pick), he also chose to be representative of our society.

Which is our invitation to judge whether or not we want him representing us.

I agree that no one should be throwing rocks at his window, nor should they be throwing virtual rocks via social media with the intention solely to hurt him and his family. But I think that most of the outrage surrounding this was toward the Ravens and the NFL, demanding that this not be ignored. Demanding that Rice be removed as one of the potential role models for our children and our society. And I think those people had every right to do that.

You brought up the hypocrisy of the public’s outrage and reminded us of other incidents where the same or worse actions were ignored. And you are right; in a perfect world, the public outcriers would be much more consistent and logical with their outrage.

However, the problem isn't that we are outraged now; it's that we weren't outraged then. But this doesn't mean we should ignore what's happening now.

What I think really sealed the deal with our talk, though, is your "most important" question: how many people thought of Janay Rice?

I think that the answer is almost everyone who was outraged by the footage from that elevator. The answer is everyone who watched Janay falling to the ground and thought of their own potential Janays.

I don't know Janay but I have a younger sister whose well-being I do think about. And if I saw or heard or even guessed that any man punched her in the face... well, I'd be going somewhere that probably wouldn't be conducive to blogging. And I wouldn't give a damn whether she "loved" him or not.

But in all seriousness, if you're asking us to take a step back and consider what would be the appropriate response if we were thinking about Janay, outrage is the only response. Yes, her financial situation will suffer. Yes, her relationship with Ray will suffer. Yes, the dynamics of their marriage will change. But I don't think you can blame the public's outcry for that.

I think you can blame Ray Rice's left hook to her temple.

I won't pretend like the public lynch mob isn't quick to judge, or that every angry tweeter out there is an advocate for Janay's well-being. The social media bandwagon can be unnecessarily cruel and often illogical. But this time, I think they got it right.

Ray Rice is someone to whom we had awarded our admiration, and he clocked a woman in the face.

So you tell me, Jessie: who should we be ashamed of here?