What’s Going On?: Domestic Violence and the Black Athlete

The African-American community has historically had to protect its young men from false accusations emanating from a hostile white community; particularly when charges of inappropriate behavior guaranteed that whites intended to serve as accuser, trial, jury, and executioner. Historically, there has been little disagreement that we, meaning Black men and Black women, supported one another regardless of the enemy or the odds of our survival.

Such a collective history makes these repeated incidents of domestic violence within the National Football League all the more disturbing. One is left to ponder; at what point did African-American men begin to look at the women who have served as their sisters, mother, aunts, cousins, daughters, lovers, and confidants as worthless a worthless enemy.

Make no mistake about it; the recent rash of domestic violence involving African-American athletes is certainly nothing new; rather it is being highlighted as never before. Put simply, it is the flavor of the day; a flavor that most likely will not subside as Commissioner Roger Goodell fights to maintain his position. Quite possibly the greatest evidence that the NFL has not taken the issue of Domestic Violence with the seriousness that it deserves is the presence of twelve players on rosters with previous Domestic Violence incidents.

  • Ray McDonald, San Francisco 49ers
  • Chris Cook, San Francisco 49ers
  • Tony McDaniel, Seattle Seahawks
  • Kevin Williams, Seattle Seahawks
  • Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
  • Santonio Holmes, Chicago Bears
  • Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers
  • Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
  • Erik Walden, Indianapolis Colts
  • Donte Whitner, Cleveland Browns
  • Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins,
  • Frostee Rucker, Arizona Cardinals

Unfortunately, this list will most likely continue to grow in the weeks to come.

The presence of such incidents should spark an internal discussion amongst African-Americans regarding what is the definition of Manhood undergirding our existence. The belief that the primary role of a man is that of a provider is one of the primary reasons that we find ourselves in this present situation; each of the individuals on this list is most likely a multi-millionaire; that is if they have not squandered their fortune as athletes commonly do.

Quite possibly, it is time for us to construct a different definition of Manhood before we socialize the next generation of Black boys and girls to allow money to represent the personification of Manhood.  How different would the dynamics between African-American men and women be if we instructed our youth that a man possesses the following qualities: Protector, Caring, Considerate, Attentive, Educated, Rational, Dedicated, Loyal, and one who is committed to a vision that represents both partners’ goals and aspirations.

I dare each African-American to try it; if only for a generation.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


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