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Thoughtful Monday - What does protecting our loved ones really look like 11-04-2022

"Violence is Never the path to follow unless destruction is the goal." I've always heard the first 5 words of this phrase, but never along with last 5 words: "unless destruction is the goal." Perfect point to ponder. Many realize this in theory, but how many realize it in the heat of the moment.

Then there is that worthy comment by Denzel Washington which was highly relevant in that particular instance. But to answer your question, I never thought he was referring to Chris Rock as the devil. It seems to me that he was referring to something more like that sin of pride that easily sneaks up on the privileged and turns them into monsters. The word 'privileged' here refers to the privilege of wealthy high-class celebrities of any race. Denzel's comment was an accurate explanation for what had happened; it was the perfect ‘hindsight headline’. Most of us, including Will, wished he’d been studying this phrase before deciding to confront Chris Rock so publicly and violently. But those barn doors were already wide open, and the horse was long gone.

A sincere apology is the only way forward. Hoping it also happens face-to-face, and is not just a Twitter note, no matter how professionally written. Everyone else should move forward by learning crucial lessons. Society needs to learn about how our men have been conditioned to react violently in the name of protecting our loved ones. We need to examine how this really hurts us as a community. Wherever one stands on the social class ladder will factor into whether one receives vindication or punishment. Either way, toxic masculinity has gone viral in every race in patriarchal society.

One Black woman celebrity said, “It was a beautiful thing to see a Black woman being defended this way." I beg to differ, as a Black woman myself who has witnessed this violent behavior and tried to clean up the traumatic aftermath, there is nothing even vaguely beautiful about it. Aggression like this happens on the regular down here in the working-class population. Some call it petty violence, but the repercussions of this normalized violence has adverse effects that reverberate for generations.

Society is soaked to the bones in the destructive consequences of over-the-top vengeance reactions; from small-claims court to serial domestic violence and femicide, to homicide, to state violence, and international wars. Our communities are gravely harmed by the easy criminalization of BIPOC men under this dangerous indoctrination. If you are not wealthy and a celebrity, then you’ll most likely be jailed and punished for violent reactions in public. You will be charged with assault.

Far too many Black men have been imprisoned, and even more are buried six feet under as a direct result of sudden ‘Yo Mama’ jokes, and similar provocations. It’s never been a beautiful thing. Look closer. I am not saying all Black men ascribe to this behavior or live by it. Obviously not. But now it’s time to address it. Toxic masculinity is being used to de-stabilize us, and it’s been working too well for too long. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Rich or poor, choosing violence as if it’s a solution, snaps that trap whose goal is destruction.

We need to examine why there are lots of men and women, across race and class, who are comfortable with this type of violence and think that it’s justifiable. What does protecting your loved one’s feelings mean and why does it look exactly like vengeance? Why does justice often look like bitter retribution? How should protection and justice really be done?

What does your gut tell you? I think it’s time to change the script for all the actors involved.

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