What‘s critical to understand here is that this is more than a call for diversity for diversity’s sake. No one is asking Goodell to check off some invisible box of inclusion, only to get a Black face in a space where none now exists. We know, all too well, that Blackness for Blackness sake is woefully inadequate for true representation and effectiveness (cue Clarence Thomas). Instead, what we’re calling for here is the key missing ingredient that is absolutely necessary to finally, devise an approach to addressing abusive behavior in the NFL in a way that actually matches the context in which it overwhelmingly exists. In essence, what we’re asking for is what the commissioner has already pledged to attempt to do. What we demand, Mr. Commissioner, is that you finally “get it right.”

Now, we of course, know that the problem of domestic violence can be found far beyond the realm of the NFL, and in fact touches every community, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. But the sad reality is that with the lone and tragic exception of Native American women, no other woman in America today is more likely to be beaten at the hands of someone she loves and trusts than a Black woman. Still, precisely because we’ve had a front row seat to the danger that awaits Black men throughout every level of society, and particularly within the space of the criminal justice system, we are especially likely to slip into the role of protector, and privilege the needs of our abuser, even if that means putting our own lives in danger again, and again, and again.

I know this, because I’ve lived it.

I am that one out of nearly every three Black women in America who has 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.

You see, unlike the catchy tune of an abusive entertainer or the foolish parroting of a popular pastor, the fact of the matter is, Black women are loyal. Too loyal. And our loyalty is killing us. Today we are nearly three times as likely to die at the hands of a spouse, boyfriend, or significant other than White women in the same situation. And because of this along with a wide range of other nuanced factors that are distinct to the African-American experience, it is critical that any advisory team Goodell amasses specifically include Black women domestic violence experts who can provide a specialized, external perspective on the problem in order to ensure the cultural competency this complex issue needs and deserves actually takes place.

Join us in sounding the alarm. We are the solution that thus far has been so evasive for the NFL to grasp. Sign the petition here, and tell Roger Goddell, it’s time to get it right.

Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever is the President and CEO of Incite Unlimited and serves in the role of Sr. Public Policy Advisor to the Black Women’s Roundtable.

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