Writing for BK Nation, Byron Hurt discusses the case of Heisman hopeful and Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston. As you know, Winston was accused of rape and the state attorney’s office had failed to bring charges in what many considered a reasonable amount of time. Controversy erupted with folks making all kinds of accusations including that Winston was set-up by the victim in order to derail Winston’s Heisman candidacy and another FSU championship and that Winston had not been charged because of his celebrity status in a sports obsessed state and ostensibly country. Even though it has been established that Winston will not face criminal charges for the alleged crime, Hurt reminds readers that black men must also work to end violence against women, even when facing a troublesome history of false accusations, because it is the right thing to do. He discusses the weight of being a black man speaking out about the fact that black men can also be perpetrators of sexual violence despite a history of stereotypes and myths based on fear. He asks the important question, if the victim were your daughter, wouldn’t you want justice for her?
Check out an excerpt from his post below and let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.
“Countless Black men, like Alabama’s the Scottsboro boys, Chicago’s Emmett Till, the Central Park Five in New York City, and more recently Brian Banks in Atlanta, GA, have shamefully suffered the injustice of a racist criminal justice system that rushed to judgment, with little or no evidence. As a result, numerous innocent Black men were executed or and sent to prison to serve long sentences.
White men who do anti-sexist work may know and understand this history, but they probably don’t share the same tension I feel. I’m sure that my Black brothers who do gender violence-prevention work better understand this inner battle. The dynamics always become a little more complicated when it comes to Black men and rape.
Even more complex is having conversations with other Black men who believe in their hearts that the victim is lying, or that the Black man is being framed – a highly sensitive issue amongst us Black men. However, it must be said, without equivocation or cowardice, that Black men, like all men, do commit rape against women. We live in a rape culture that transcends race.
Tragically, men from every racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic background perpetrate acts of sexual violence that hurt and traumatize women – including Black women. We must address rape with honesty and with courage and must not be dissuaded by pushback, denial, or defensiveness by Black men or any other group of men.
When a high-profile athlete like Jameis Winston is accused of rape, I force myself to separate my love for him as a quarterback and open myself up to the possibility that even though he is an outstanding football player worthy of this year’s Heisman Trophy, he may, in fact, be a rapist.
Please, lower your defenses and hear me. I totally understand that Winston has not been charged with a crime. I understand that he is a frontrunner to win the Heisman. I know you may want to see him and his teammates at Florida State University compete for the national championship. I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy watching Famous Jameis play on Saturdays. But we must resist the temptation to assume that Jameis Winston falls into the category of Black men who have been falsely accused of rape – a lamentable historical pattern. To do so would be unfair to the rape victim. We shouldn’t automatically assume that he did not commit the crime because he is being set up, or that his team’s championship season is being sabotaged, or that there is a witch hunt against Winston and his Heisman campaign…”
Read the post in its entirety at BKNation.org.
Email Byron at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @byronhurt.