Is this simply a case of celebrity allowing a man to get away with being violent towards his spouse? OJ Simpson beat Nicole for years before her murder and yet nothing was ever really done about it. He was the “juice” and in a world in which violence against women is very normalized her safety became secondary.
Domestic violence is something we are loathe to discuss in the black community because we know that black men are already understood as violent culturally. While the idea that there is a black criminal waiting in the bushes to assault women is surely based in a desire to maintain white hegemony, this should not cause us to ignore the genuine cases of violence against Black women.
From Tina Turner to Rihanna, the blame for black male violence is usually placed upon the woman. In one of his e-mails to his alleged victim, Marshall asserts that it is her raised voice that triggered his abusive behaviour. When Baby Wipes AKA Terrence Howard punched his ex-wife, he blamed it on her disrespecting him. No matter what language someone uses, that is never an excuse to become violent. Harsh language can be understood justification because despite the gains of feminism, women’s bodies are still deemed the property of men.
Women are constructed as irrational and subject to our hormones and yet an act of violent rage like stabbing your partner in the legs, will be deemed a momentary aberration and not as a statement of the ways in which men are violent with women. We place blame on the victim for returning to an abusive spouse without acknowledging that the abuser has no right to become violent regardless of the situation.
A woman that is beaten by her spouse is the victim in the relationship and regardless of the racism that black men face, to ask us to be silent is a betrayal of our worth and our value. Not every black man assaults women but those that do need to be held accountable. Hiding it like a dirty secret only allows these acts of violence to escalate. As much as I feel solidarity with black men for our shared battle against racism, my love and admiration for fellow women of color demands that I speak to this issue. Any man that beats a woman for any reason, is a criminal and a coward.