Like muscled linebackers making a championship-bound defensive play, gun control happened along and gave National Football League players a pass. It’s like every October: it’s real easy for football’s best and not-so-brightest to sport pink ribbons, shoes and other assorted gear in support of breast cancer awareness (which is a worthy cause). But, ask them to make a statement on domestic violence – officially observed during that same month – and they’ll more than likely give you strange looks or a nasty shove into the bleachers.
When what is known as the Jovan Belcher tragedy splashed across headlines, sports commentators, Sunday afternoon couch potatoes and assorted pundits all pointed to gun control as the issue. That’s an easy culprit. The nation was still reeling from mindless massacres in places like Aurora and also Chicago (although, mass murdering White guy got more news copy than gun slinging Black South Siders shooting stray bullets). Naturally, keep extending the conversation on a need for stricter gun laws so you keep folks like Belcher from reaching for a gun when he snaps. Speculation is beginning to swirl as to why he snapped in the first place. Meanwhile, a late Kasandra Perkins has been relegated to simply being Belcher’s “girlfriend,” as if she didn’t exist the moment it all happened.
Sadly, that’s part of the public narrative which loves to gloss over important details like the astonishing rate of men who abuse women in the United States. We’re quick to point at Muslim countries, but we should take a look in our collective mirror as far as our homes, our inadequate police response and a shamelessly uncaring court system. The violent state of many relationships is an uncomfortable conversation, particularly in the African American community where it’s the top public health problem for Black women. Yet, it goes from unnoticed to unchecked.
The public policy conversation surrounding domestic violence is also that lacking, with elected officials failing to put any spotlight on it despite the clear prevalence of it in their communities. Most would like to ignore it as simply “relationship issues” confined to saucy reality TV drama. And it is, to a degree, a reflection of a deeper spiritual problem that takes a few more volumes and online space to cover than one can imagine. But, making it a political priority would be a good start.