October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and maybe it’s me but the fates seem to have been taking every opportunity to remind me of the blight such viciousness brings to society, it’s prevalence and the subsequent pall it leaves in its wake. Let me explain: It all started with a news story and a plan.
The plan was to attend the Justice or Else, 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March to be held on the Mall in Washington D.C. I was going to go with my son, his longtime friends and their sons; a family affair, if you will. This was something we’d talked about for a few months and now finally, the week of it had arrived. But before we could embark on our “pilgrimage”, the news happened.
On Thursday October 8, the evening reports were hot with a story, resplendent with actual video, that seemingly tied many of the past summer’s nasty current events up into one despicable little package; a police shooting caught with the help of body cameras. In the spotlight again, Cleveland Police were called to the home of Theodore Johnson who reportedly had threatened both his wife and landlord with a gun. Johnson had a history of domestic violence and also a murder charge in his criminal pedigree.
Many watched the scene unfold that night in their living rooms, a capitulation of all reason as he shot arriving Officer David Muniz in the chest; the slug fortunately caught by his Kevlar vest. What followed next was an entreaty for Johnson’s life as he squared off with Muniz and other officers demanding that they shoot him in a blatant example of attempted suicide by cop. Officer Muniz despite being shot refused to do so which seemed to agitate further Mr. Johnson who eventually raised his weapon, pointed it and was shot fatally by the other officers.
It was early Saturday when I got another reminder of just how prevalent domestic violence is and how you can run up on it almost anywhere at almost any time. A couple was arguing across the street from our bus loading zone and it was getting heated to the point that without intervention, someone was probably going to get hurt.
Luckily a few good men stepped over to the couple while the man tried to force his way into the woman’s car after almost being dragged ten feet. Accusations flew but not bullets or other harmful metal and both parties left and lived to make better decisions tomorrow.
On the Mall Saturday afternoon, it was Louis Farrakhan that brought domestic violence again to the table for discussion. He spoke at length about man’s treatment of women and how such abuse sullies and limits us as a society. Of course, he spoke about social injustice and the violence perpetrated against Americans by America and those she wields her power through but he also spoke of the injustice and violence we wield against ourselves and sometimes, against those we love or claim to love.
You can hear the webcast, here.
Minister Farrakhan recognizes the impact domestic violence has on the communities of the poor. He must because he spoke at length about having respect for and keeping your hands off of women. And it’s true; the impression left in the wake of such violence has an effect on others including friends, neighbors, co-workers and other family members.
But the legacy left to the children who witness first hand such viciousness is what’s most troubling. It’s a sorry birthright that creates a whole new generation of sufferers and abusers and installs in their lives a vicious circle of pain that perpetuates almost without end. Still that afternoon, I saw some signs of hope for a better future.
There was hope in the number of young men listening with rapt attention to what the Minister was saying; a positive message of self-improvement. And there was hope in the fact that of the many that showed up to listen, many had their partners with them, or even better, their progenies. There’s hope because if such change is gonna come then it must come collectively through the education of families.
On the way back that evening as the daylight ebbed, I thought a lot on what had been said that afternoon and I thought about my father who always preached never hit a woman and that to do so would eventually make you less than the man you are. I looked at my son in the seat in front of me and gave thanks that I hadn’t left him such a birthright of disrespect. He was, after all, my primary hope.