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Is Domestic Violence In the NFL A Racial Issue?

September 24, 2014

Women’s eNews just published an op-ed by a woman who says that the only way to trust that the NFL really is addressing the issue of domestic violence perpetrated by many of its players is by assigning a black woman or more than one black woman to its advisory council on domestic violence:

As much as Goodell would like to continue to operate under the illusion of the irrelevance of race, with full ignorance of the intersecting realties faced by those of us who navigate life in the United States as both black and female, the fact is, the racial representation of his advisory panel matters. And his stubborn disregard of the importance of including black domestic violence experts displays a stunning degree of disrespect for black women specifically — the very women in the United States who are most likely to face this horror — as well as an utter disregard for the safety of those women most likely to be on the receiving end of the abusive behavior within his own league.

Because of the wide range of nuanced factors that are distinct to the African American experience, it is critical that any advisory team Goodell amasses specifically include black female domestic violence experts to ensure the cultural competency this complex issue requires and deserves.

For those of you who might not know who Goodell is, he is the incompetent ass acting as the NFL Commissioner, who has downplayed felonious acts of domestic violence by  NFL players. Goodell really should be fired for his incompetence, but in true NFL style, the abusers are still paid to play, even if they act as the NFL Commissioner.

When confronted with the video evidence of Ray Rice, an NFL player, punching his then-fiancee in the face, the NFL Commissioner acknowledged that he should have done more than give Ray Rice a two game suspension. Goodell didn’t do enough to punish Ray Rice, and the NFL hasn’t done enough to punish Goodell. Goodell came up with the idea of having a domestic violence advisory committee made up of women, and then Goodell failed to appoint any women of color to that committee.

The Women’s eNews contributor feels that without black women on the domestic violence advisory panel, the panel can’t be effective, because apparently only black women can minister to black women’s needs? While the author acknowledges that domestic violence is an issue for every woman, she then tries to argue that because more black women suffer domestic violence than supposed white women, that black women need to be on the advisory panel:

Domestic violence goes way beyond the realm of the NFL, touching every community, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. But the sad reality is no woman in the United States today is more likely to be beaten or die at the hands of someone she loves and trusts than a black woman.

The author then finishes with what is perhaps her most unsatisfying argument, the I-story, to argue that black women should be on Goodell’s committee:

I know this, because I’ve lived it.

I am that 1-in-nearly-3 black women who have survived an abusive relationship. I understand all too well the deadly mix of isolation, fear and racial solidarity that makes exposing the pain of abuse paralyzing for some and a complete non-starter for others. I’ve been that woman who’s had the police show up at my door only to send them away in the desire to defend the indefensible and to protect the person I still, inexplicably, loved.

Contrary to the editorial stance behind publishing a piece like this, the author’s argument that she refused to allow police to interfere in her abusive relationship does not make her qualified to address domestic violence issues–it argues that she is not only ill-equipped to address domestic violence issues within the letter of the law, but that she supports the concept of hiding the abuser. So, is the NFL issue of domestic abuse a racial issue?


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