Something interesting happened on Twitter yesterday. After boxer Floyd Mayweather challenged Manny Pacquiao to a fight before Mayweather heads off to serve his 90-day stint in jail for domestic violence, CNN’s Roland Martin called him for being a hypocrite.
Mayweather tweeted: “Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see. My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.”
Martin put the boxer on blast, noting that Mayweather couldn’t call another man a punk when he was headed to jail for abusing the mother of his children (he reportedly pulled her hair, punched her, twisted her aim, and threatened her).
Shortly after his tweet, Martin was criticized by some Twitter users for being publicly critical of Mayweather because he is a fellow black man. Apparently, they felt that Martin should have had a private conversation with the boxer about domestic violence instead of being critical of him in public, simply because of his race, despite the fact that Mayweather often takes to Twitter to air out his grievances.
This idea that black people shouldn’t be publicly critical of one another is nothing new. It plays into the notion that we shouldn’t talk negatively about one another lest we “disrespect the race” and make all black people look bad in the eyes white folks.
While I’m of the belief that some things do indeed need to be discussed behind closed doors (i.e. family problems), when it comes to issues that affect large swaths of people, we need to get them out in the open.
For too long things like domestic violence and sexual assault were swept under the rug, and many–both men and women–suffered in silence. But now that it’s common knowledge that beating your partner is wrong and sexual assault has no place in a civil society, some people still take issue with holding abusers accountable for their actions.
Why do some people have a problem when abusers are called out for their destructive behaviors? Why do some continually try to rationalize abuse? (i.e. saying he didn’t hit her, he just twisted her arm). And why don’t more men hold each other PUBLICLY accountable for perpetuating and engaging in violent behavior (against women and against each other)?
While I know there are men like Roland Martin, Mark Anthony Neal, and Kevin Powell who do step up to hold their brethren accountable, when bad things happen to women–and especially black women–the chorus of men holding their feet to the fire is painfully low.
Domestic violence is no laughing matter, nor is it something that we can just talk about behind closed doors. It not only affects the couple in the relationship, but many times, it also scars children who bear witness to it.
As Audre Lorde once wrote, “your silence will not protect you,” and staying silent on such pressing issues will do little to ensure they don’t happen in the future.
What do you think?