Thursday night when I watched the video of a woman from Cleveland being punched in the face by an adult, male bus driver, I immediately become depressed. Call me dramatic, but the first thought that came to mind was “Jesus, take me now.” Why, you ask. Because that video encompassed everything wrong with society. Out of control control behavior. Angry and violent people. Passive bystanders who are amused by violence and foolishness and always intervene way too late. Mindless masses who record, post, share and laugh at footage of people at their absolute worst. And an absence of order and common sense.
Once I saw that #uppercut was a trending topic on Twitter Friday morning, I decided to do some investigating. Who were these people in the video? Were there repercussions for their actions? And was the rest of the world as upset as I was?
The people were 59-year-old Artis Hughes, the bus driver, and 25-year-old Shidea N. Lane, a woman who many mistaken for a teen initially. The police were called, but both individuals refused to press charges. Hughes was later suspended from his job pending investigation. Both his union and Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority are said to be pissed at him and have labeled his behavior “absolutely unacceptable.” Unfortunately, there’s a good sector of America who doesn’t agree with them.
As I scrolled the comments section of various blogs who had posted the video, I began to read people justifying the action of this savage bus driver. I wasn’t completely surprised. I actually refer to the comment section of blogs as the cesspool of life, so such behavior is somewhat expected, though it’s still disappointing to witness. However, I was shocked, disheartened and disappointed to see similar comments cross my Twitter and Facebook timelines. Here were people I value and respect justifying the disgusting, aggressive and violent behavior of a man towards a woman. I was immediately reminded of the Chris Brown and Rihanna domestic violence incident of 2009.
I was teaching 10th grade English in 2009, and we spent many hours discussing Chris and RiRi. In fact, thanks to Chris and RiRi, my students ended up writing a research paper on domestic violence. During our discussions, many tried to justify Chris’ behavior, either because he was cute, “Rihanna had probably started,” or they (the males in my class) had been accosted by an angry female and hit her in “defense.” I was very intentional in what I told my students during these discussions, and if they remembered nothing else I ever taught them, I hope these words continue to ring in their ears. “To my boys, there is never, EVER an excuse to put your hands on a woman. NEVER. Even if you can somehow justify it in your head, you will always catch brunt of the blame. Just don’t do it. Walk away. I don’t care what she’s done. Remove yourself from the situation. Ladies, stop taking advantage of the fact that you are a girl and he’s not supposed to hit you back. Don’t hit a man unless you are prepared to take a lick from a man.” To me, it really is as simple as what we learned in kindergarten: keep your hands to yourself. Unfortunately, just like much else that is common sense to me, it’s not that common or simple to others.
Most disappointing to me yesterday were the men who I hold in high esteem who weren’t completely appalled by what they saw and/or so easily justified the behavior of this bus driver. If you can be amused by and/or justify this, what else do you excuse and find entertaining? Y’all are definitely not the men I initially gave you credit for being. One thing I know about adult males who hit women. They are pussies who will rarely raise their hands to a man. And the folks who justified their behavior are no better. Oh, how I long for the day when society will unabashedly denounce male violence against women and refuse to make excuses for the perpetrators of said violence.
Good day, boys and girls. Hopefully, you will one day grow into real men and women.