On last Friday, two of my friends and I, clicked the link to Scott Maxwell’s column about ’10 people in Orlando who are making the city a better place.’
I loved it.
My mouthy friend had already skimmed to the bottom of the article and said, ‘oh, is that the guy that called you and other women racist, woman-hating names?’ She was referring to a man who many of us know will slay women personally on social media with the most degrading and disgusting comments he can think of, if some disagree with his position. I read further, identified his name and said, “OMG yes!”
For the sake of this commentary, let’s refer to this person as “the guy.”
My friend said, ‘how in the hell is he making Orlando better when he can’t control his mouth, fires off racist and mysogynist remarks and has a history of assault on women?’ She was bending back her fingers one-by-one as if she was counting as she blurted out each “charge.” I agreed with her.
She was fire-hot-mad. Frankly, so was I. Yet, no part of me thought Maxwell knew about “the guy’s” rants and history.
So, I sent Maxwell a direct message on Facebook telling him I loved his column but there’s one name in there that makes me cringe and I cited why and sent proof. I guess I’ve read Maxwell’s columns enough to feel comfortable saying that. I was so wrong.
For the record, Maxwell did not cite him as one of the top 10 people, but he hinted at “the guy” being close to it, because he said some people had floated “the guy’s” name around as being a good candidate and that the Orlando Sentinel had covered some positive attempts at community issues or events in which “the guy” was involved.
Why am I ranting about all this? Stay with me. I’m getting there.
“The guy” I’m referring to used some of the worst names you can call a Black or Brown woman. To me, the name-calling he used was equivalent to calling a Black person the n-word and “the guy,” well, he’d pour salt in the wound by adding a touch of mysogynist verbiage to it to make sure those women, who didn’t agree with him, felt the sting.
For the record, the n-word and other remarks, including a word that degrades women, is what recently led to the resignation of Florida Senator, Frank Artiles further proving that words matter.
In addition, “the guy” has a history of physically abusing women, although the charges were dropped according to what Scott Maxwell wrote back.
When I put this in my direct message to Maxwell, we instantly started chatting back and forth, but it then led to a reaction I never saw coming.
He thanked me for my kind words about his column but immediately defended the abuser or “the guy” in this case, by saying they ran a background check after I sent him what I thought and that the alleged physical assault happened in 2005 and those charges were dropped. I didn’t know what year the assault happened but Maxwell checked me on it. However, the year still really didn’t matter to me; the assaults did.
Maxwell messaged me this: “I usually take issue with people who try to use dropped charges against candidates – or anyone really … especially as it is a tactic that disproportionately affects minorities and lower income folks. I understand you don’t care for him. And I appreciate background. But I’m also trying to live by standards i try to demand form (from) others.”
My jaw hit the floor. “Take issue?” I had a look on face as if I were a kid in the backseat of a car that had just passed by a sewage dump. My friend said, “what’d he say?” I said, “nothing.”
Scott Maxwell is one of my favorite columnists. He was a Jeopardy question for crying out loud. He’s a journalist’s hero or heroes.
Initially, I felt small, embarrassed and ashamed to have told him about “the guy,” yet, pissed that he played the race card in a discussion to defend the abuser and hadn’t stopped short once of defending the victim. Let me say that another way. He defended the abuser by questioning the victim because she had dropped the charges, all the while sitting with screenshots of “the guy” calling Black women “negro bed-wenches”.
Stick a fork in me, because I am so done.
This blame victims. I have to believe it’s often not intentional, but the damage can be huge whether someone is saying it intentionally or not.
With all my personality (good or bad) and passion, I felt small because I told him information that should have been known prior to writing a story on the 10 best people and sideways mentioning someone who we all whisper about but rarely shout out about. It’s the exact same thing we do, to defend offenders while making victims feel so much smaller.
This is wrong.
The mentality is something I may never understand.
I know people change their lives and try to become better, we all do, yet when an alleged crime happened by “the guy” in 2005 and women are still being attacked online by “the guy” just days ago, any reasonably sound person must ask themselves why highlight someone as a community leader who can’t control his emotions and feels this way about women?
But, Maxwell didn’t do that.
Instead, I got schooled on this happening to black people and middle income people.
My goal is not to bash Maxwell. My goal is to sound-off about what I’ve been writing about for weeks now. This is why so many victims don’t speak out. This is why victims drop charges against their abusers. This is why little things like words, matter.
How many people in Black & Brown communities drop charges on the abusers because they are afraid? Plenty do. How many remember Alex Zaldivar who was a witness to a crime and was set to testify and was murdered by the defendant? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it now, my first roommate in college was a victim. Her mother was murdered by a man she was dating and my roommate witnessed it, as a child. That man was incarcerated for a short time but then released because he had turned his life around.
My roommate would go back to her home city on the holidays and certain weekends and would run into her Mother’s killer in the grocery store, often. The damage that did to her family was immeasurable and I hope no one ever suffers like that. I am confident, many women who have been abused have dropped charges against their abuser at least once and I know I don’t need to remind you that some victims of domestic violence have been murdered.
The fact that my roommate’s Mother was a black woman makes me want to challenge the opposition that much more.
In the case of “the guy,” I don’t know if the victim dropped the charges or if the state dropped them, but the victim absolutely could have been terrified.
Let’s face it, in our politically correct world, no one really stands for victims. We give them the side-eye if they claim they’ve been wronged and I’ll never understand why many liberals are not standing up for the good, law-abiding, victims in the Central Florida community.
This exchange led me to think about the black man that was shot in the face by another black man on Easter Sunday. The murder was broadcasted live on Facebook. If that killer would have come out alive, many liberals would be fighting for him if he so much as said he’s changed his life for the better.
I understand we want to defend people who are black and have had run-ins with the law and claim to have changed their lives for the better. I get it. But, if they truly have changed, it should show in their behavior.
I challenge all of us to think about the victim on the receiving end of their actions, regardless of whether an attack physically happened in 2005 or just last week via an exchange of words on social media.
I figured, from columnist to columnist, Maxwell just didn’t know. There are issues in our communities we know must be addressed. We absolutely must recognize injustices and racial disparities. I don’t need that speech. Especially, not from a white guy. What I need is simple understanding of what the other side of the aisle thinks, feels, believes and knows to be truth.
Nina Simone once said, “I tell you what freedom is to me: no fear.” That’s what it means to me, too. I don’t want to fear a community that I love so deeply.
I’d rather raise-up those who are truly doing the best they can to respect and value us all. As Black women, we wear a lot of crowns and take a lot of crap from all sorts of people with all kinds of beliefs. The last thing we need is our own Brothers tearing us down and victims voices to be silent.
While some fight for offenders and offenders who have changed their lives, I am but one voice of many that will speak out also on behalf of victims to a point of no concern about whether it offends a violent offender. There are innocent people tied-up in our justice system and they should be the first group of people we fight to free. There are those who have non-violent offenses and we should fight for their freedom, too. I will, forever stand against those who are violent toward us, regardless of the color of their skin and with all due respect, I don’t need a lesson from a white man to teach me about the racial disparities that I know all too well.