Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sucker Punch

I'm sure we've all seen the video of 25 year-old Shidia Lane taunting 59 year -old Artis Hughes as he drove a passenger-filled bus in Cleveland, Ohio. After being threatened, cursed at, and then hit. Hughes became frustrated and decided to strike back, literally. So at the next stop he did something both shocking and deplorable, he hit Lane with a vicious uppercut, and then he threw her off the bus like trash. It wasn't my intention to write about this story, because it seemed like sad sensationalism. But two weeks later this story still lingered in the back of my mind. Not the story, as much as the reaction to the story. I found the opinions of African-American women especially interesting. Some have come out in support of Hughes. The general consensus seems to be that he was justified in his violent reaction, even though he was not in the throws of battle at the time, and there was absolutely no evidence of self defense. As I peeled back the layers of this event I began to wonder what our society has become. When a women finds it acceptable for a man to assault another women there is definitely a disconnect in some way shape or form. When a man finds it ok to hit a woman it's called battery, and it usually represents insecurities in reference to his own sexuality. Another puzzling aspect of this story is the fact that Hughes felt that it was necessary to hit a woman for mouthing off. I personally find this incident hard to swallow but, I believe the fact that both Hughes and Lane, are Black, makes this situation palatable for some people. It says a lot about how we view ourselves as African-American's, and even more about what is socially acceptable to us.
First and foremost, after watching the video numerous times I would be remiss if I did not admit that I believe Lane played the antagonist, and was absolutely wrong for provoking a man who was just trying to do his job. However, given the fact that she posed no immediate threat at the time, she did not deserve to be hit like a street fighter.
In all honesty, if Hughes was Caucasian, African- American's would protest, and then speed-dial Rev. Sharpton for advice. If Lane was white, Hughes would have never made it off the bus unless he was in handcuff's. White folks simply do not tolerate violence against their own. Hughes would have never put his hands on a white women. Maybe because of the possible ramifications or perhaps because some of us undervalue other African- American's just as much as the rest of society does. Had he assaulted a white woman, you would be hard pressed to find another who would say that she deserved it. So does this imply that we as African- American's hold ourselves in such low regard that it is ok if we commit acts of violence against each other? Or have we become so desensitized that it no longer matters? Maybe a little of both. Indifference from other segments of society is not acceptable but it is expected. But our indifference towards each other is a dangerous paradigm. As of this writing, Artis Hughes has been suspended after 22 years of service, and charged with assault. Shidea Lane has been charged with disorderly conduct. A petition is currently being circulated to have Hughes reinstated by all of those who believe that he was justified, and acted in self defense.
There are a few questions that we should all ask ourselves before we rush to judgement in this matter.
What if Shadia Lane was your sister, your daughter, or your mother? Would there being anything that she could have said that warranted an uppercut. The answer is, absolutely not!


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