Recently there was a Senate committee hearing on sexual assault survivor rights. The purpose of the hearing was to encourage the passing of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights nationwide. This hearing was highlighted by some statements made by the actor Terry Crews.
Senator Dianne Feinstein asked Terry Crews about the night he was groped by a Hollywood executive in front of his wife at a party in 2016.
Crews: “I was very vocal immediately,” he responded. “The first reaction was to be violent, and I immediately held back.”
Sen. Feinstein: “Why weren’t you? You’re a big, powerful man. Why didn’t you [makes pushing gesture]?”
Crews: “Senator, as a black man in America, you only have a few shots at success. You only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community,” he said, becoming visibly emotional. “I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many, many young black men who were provoked into violence, and they were in prison, or they were killed. And they’re not here.”
“My wife for years prepared me,” Crews told Feinstein. “She said, ‘If you ever get goaded, if you ever get prodded, if you ever have anyone try to push you into any kind of situation, don’t do it. Don’t be violent.’ She trained me. I’ll be honest with you. It was the strength of my wife who trained me and told me, ‘If this situation happens, let’s leave.’ And the training worked. Because I did not go into my first reaction. I grabbed her hand, and we left.”
This is not an attempt to shame Terry Crews. I feel like he responded in the manner that he felt was appropriate. I am not him, so it is not my place to tell him or judge his reaction. This is also not an attempt to make light of people who have been sexually assaulted. As a matter of fact, this post isn’t even about sexual assault. Instead, I want to focus on Terry Crews explanation as to why he didn’t physically attack the person and what should we do, if anything in similar situations.
As a somewhat above average sized, (hell you don’t even have to be large) black man, I understand where Terry Crews was coming from. There are certain stereotypes associated with being a black man. Some people tend to be threatened by us and think that we are violent, aggressive, and have criminal tendencies. Then there is our history and how we are unfairly treated by the police and the judicial system. So you most definitely can get Crews logic.
Then when you add the layer of being a father and husband and the necessity and responsibility to not only be present or at the very least be able to provide for your family, it can become very complicated.
Sometimes it’s a situation where you have to take the lesser of two evils. I imagine that in this instance Crews felt that the embarrassment and discomfort of being grabbed were much better than having those feelings AND potentially being jailed, killed or blackballed.
You know, there are days in the workplace where I have to hold my tongue or not react the way that I want to because of the fear of losing employment. I have been known to “let things slide” time and time again. Nothing as horrible as being groped or anything physical but still, pride had to be swallowed and I reacted a certain way because I felt that I had to, not because I wanted to.
The same applies to just my everyday life. There are times when I want to slap the Hell out of people and it is warranted but I don’t. There are also times when people attempt to provoke me into doing things and I just ignore it, laugh and walk away. So I get it. I have had people spill drinks on me or become aggressive only to just say “you got it bruh” and walking away. Hell, I have had cops talk to me recklessly and disrespectfully while being pulled over and I didn’t respond but at the same time I was thinking, I really could knock this dude out.
I know on the surface hitting someone or retaliating seems like the correct and strong thing to do. It really does but in my opinion not reacting is harder and a much stronger and usually the correct thing to do.
So when should we react and how? Because at some point once certain lines are crossed you have to do something right?
Let me throw a few scenarios out there for men.
Someone is grabbing or assaulting your wife or girlfriend what do you do?
Someone is grabbing or assaulting your kids what do you do?
You see your friends being attacked what do you do?
Someone gropes you and grabs your penis what do you do?
What if we see someone being assaulted or jumped (with or without weapons involved) what should we do?
Someone does something inappropriate to you in the workplace what do you do?
Someone calls you a racial slur to your face, what do you do?
So let’s say that if you react to any situation listed above there is a chance that there is the risk of death, injury, jail or unemployment. Which basically means we have to decide if these types of reactions are worth it.
This may be a reach but I find myself not judging players in the NFL for not taking knees or boycotting because of police brutality. I also find myself not judging famous people who don’t want to get involved in certain public issues. I mean there is the risk of them being blackballed or losing employment. How hypocritical would it be of me or us to ask them to take that risk? The same one that often times we won’t take?
We all have different views and different ways of handling things and reacting to situations. What’s right and what’s wrong? I say go with what your head and heart tell you. React in a manner that no matter the consequence you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and be ok with that.
I was asked how would I have reacted in the Crews situation and knowing me I would have responded violently. I also have had moments where I couldn’t wrap my mind around why he reacted the way that he did but guess what? Just because he reacted differently than how I would have reacted it doesn’t make me more of a man than Terry Crews. It just means that we go about things differently and that’s ok. He has his life to live and he is doing that, I suggest that we do the same.