All Articles Tagged "violence"

Guns, Drugs And Racism? NBA Player Andre Bynum And Neighbors Battling In Lawsuits

December 2nd, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Former L.A. Lakers star and current Philadelphia 76ers player Andrew Bynum is in an all-out war with his neighbors.

According to TMZ, Bynum filed a lawsuit against neighbors, Ramond and Cindy Beckett.  According to the papers filed, Bynum has lived in his Westchester, CA home for more than 7 years and during this time, he’s been subjected to constant harassment and racism from the Becketts.  In the lawsuit, he states they have objected to his “profession, his race, his friends, his cars and his taste in music.”

But what he probably didn’t expect was for the Becketts to immediately countersue Bynum, claiming they are the ones who always had problems with him. In their lawsuit, they accuse Bynum of brandishing guns in an attempt to intimidate them, blasting loud rap music, using drugs and letting weed smoke drift onto their property, blasting video games at “window shaking” volumes, letting his dogs run loose around the neighborhood and more.  In fact, the Becketts state the only reason Bynum is suing them is because he knew they were planning a lawsuit of their own.

Oddly enough, Bynum says in his filed papers that the Becketts have moved out of their house so why are they even suing each other at this point? Lifestyle of the rich and bored, I suppose.

Down Til The Very End: 9 Ride Or Die Celebs!

October 14th, 2012 - By Kendra Koger
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Loyalty is a very impressive trait to have, especially for people who are surrounded by celebrities.  So many times it seems as though people who are too amped to get a taste of the limelight that they’ll sell a famous person down the river for fifteen minutes of infamy.  But what’s even more interesting is when celebrities are so loyal that they’ll sometimes put aside their fans’ adoration, their happiness, and to some extreme incidences their own freedom to be loyal to someone or something close to them.  Let’s examine these celebs:

When All Else Fails, Get Arrested…AGAIN! Ex-NFL Player Larry Johnson Arrested In Domestic Dispute!

October 6th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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This man just can’t keep his hands to himself.

Former NFL running back Larry Johnson was arrested in Las Vegas on Friday night, once again for domestic violence.  At the time of the arrest, police would only say that he was accused of strangling someone and his bail had been set at $15,000.  But as the night progressed, it was revealed that the victim (name still withheld) is actually Larry’s ex-girlfriend of four years, according to TMZ.  When the police reached the Bellagio hotel where the incident occurred, the victim was allegedly crying and had bruises on her neck.  According to police, the victim said she’d been strangled to the point of unconsciousness.

The sad thing is that this isn’t the first time Johnson has been arrested for assault. His entire football career, which has been non-existent for quite some time, has been marred by these arrests.  He’s been arrested four times since 2008; all arrests have been on the heels of him assaulting a woman. In 2011, he was arrested for allegedly beating a man down on Miami Beach.

I’m sure his ex-girlfriend, television personality and Empire Girls star Julissa Bermudez is glad she no longer has to deal with that.  He also used to be best friends – and oddly enough, roommates – with Jay-Z but as we all know, Jay tries to steer clear of anyone that can negatively affect his business.

Seriously though, his sick behavior is extremely disturbing. Women still tend to gravitate to him (I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve heard where women say they’d still date this guy knowing his history) because of his looks but when his pattern allegedly seems to be beating you up, there are enough good looks in the world that should want to make you go down that route.

Larry is being held in a Clark County jail until he is able to see a judge.

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Are We As A People Really Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago?

September 11th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
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As I read through the latest outrage at the moment, aka, the hoopla over new rapper Chief Keef, I keep hearing Georgia Anne Muldrow and Erykah Badu lyrically asking, “what if there were no n****rs, only master teachers?”

For those who don’t know, Chief Keef is the Chicago teenager (above photo, to the left), who started out of as just another YouTube rapper and has now become one of hip-hop’s most buzzed about artists. Not only has he just inked a deal with Interscope Records, but he also has caught the attention of such hip hop mavericks as Kanye West, who hopped on a remix of his song, “I Don’t Like.” He is also being investigated for a possible connection in the shooting death of fellow Chicago rapper, Joesph ‘Lil JoJo’ Coleman (above, to the right), who may I add, was only 16.

Keef, who was born Keith Cozart, drew the attention of law enforcement after laughing off the murder of Lil JoJo by saying via Twitter, “Its Sad Cuz Dat N—– Jojo Wanted to Be Jus Like Us #LMAO.” He is also known for promoting and supporting gang culture including dancing around in his music videos with what appears to be automatic weapons and tweeting the hashtag “#300” — a known reference to the Black Disciples. And at 17 years old, Keef has already faced numerous criminal charges, including a weapons charge, which has already landed him on house arrest.

The response to the rise of Keef has been rather swift, most notably from fellow Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco, who publicly criticized Keef for perpetrating the hoodlum lifestyle, which runs parallel to the culture of violence already running amok in the streets of Chicago.  Many folks I have encountered have agreed with Lupe, claiming that Keef, and others of his elk, are a burden to the community. “These n****rs are the reason why our community is the way it is,” has become a commonplace mantra in the minds of some black folks.  But truth be told, I see plenty of Chief Keefs in my community all the time. And when it comes to what’s wrong with the community, there is enough of that blame to be shared all around.

Young people, particularly young black people, have longed played witness to serious and lethal violence within their own communities. When I graduated from high school, the murder rate in Philadelphia was around 4oo deaths per year.  My nephews and niece, who only a month ago, learned of the shooting death of a teenager only steps away from their front door have already grasped the finality of death, even before they can mature enough to witness adulthood. Recently, I saw a bunch of little kids, between the ages of 9 to 11, roaming the street around 12:30 in the morning like a bunch of aimless orphans. Unfortunately, seeing hordes of parentless children at odd hours of the night has become so much of the norm that I didn’t even bother to flinch. The reality is that long after Chief Keef’s moment in the limelight has faded – whether it be from gang violence, the prison industrial complex or crossing over to the mainstream – the community will still have a violence problems. If we don’t get a handle on it, there will be someone else, someone younger, to take his place. Exhibit 1: 13-year old Lil Mouse.

But even as the threat of losing an entire generation (i.e. the children) grows uncomfortably near, many of us have become stagnated in prayer, hope, apathy and the wait for change to come.  I noticed this much last week when all eyes were fixated on the Democratic National Convention. Collectively, African-Americans are more involved in the political process than most other minority groups, supporting a one-party system by as much as 90 percent. However, we have yet to see the fruits from all of our labor or loyalty.  Nevertheless, when Rahm Emanuel asked us whose leadership we wanted in event of “an unforeseen crisis, challenge or conflict,” we don’t bother to question whose leadership is in charge as a teachers strike looms and blood runs red in the streets of Chicago. We smirked and laughed alongside former President Bill Clinton, who worked his arithmetic mojo while reaffirming President Obama’s commitment to the work requirement in welfare reform, a policy called by most a dismal failure.  And as the RNC’s mantra/question – “Are you better now than four years ago?” – blared from our television sets, many of us couldn’t wait to nod our heads in the affirmative, even when the reality – at least for us – suggests otherwise.

Don’t Waste Your Influence, Co-Sign Responsibly

September 10th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
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Source: nahright.com

Nicki Minaj’s endorsement of Mitt Romney instigated some of the splashiest headlines following the Labor Day weekend. Head scratching and eye rolls accompanied readers’ mouse clicks, racking up traffic numbers for news and gossip websites. “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney,” she said on her mentor Lil Wayne’s mixtape. “You lazy b***** are f****** up the economy.”

Later in the week, panicked tweets began to surface. Chicago is losing its mind. A sixteen-year-old rapper named JoJo was killed after being shot twice on Tuesday. The incident occurred hours after a video emerged of JoJo taunting a rival named Lil Reese, an associate of popular rapper Chief Keef, making the violent lifestyle Chicago’s drill music glorifies that much more real. Keef’s notoriety stems from “I Don’t Like,” a local anthem made popular nationwide when Kanye West remixed the song with his G.O.O.D. labelmates.

With her closet full of wigs and the wardrobe of a teen in Tokyo, Nicki Minaj doesn’t present herself as someone to be taken seriously for her political views. Perhaps that’s why she felt she could get away with an easy punch line that puts down others to illustrate her supremacy. Most of her fans aren’t old enough to vote. What harm could it do?

What harm could a remix do either? West repeatedly partners with rappers who have grittier followings (including G.O.O.D. signees 2 Chainz and Pusha T) to appropriate buzz in the streets that his “luxury rap” distances him from. Not only that, he was able to bring attention to emerging music in his hometown. Everybody wins, right?

Everybody except for the impressionable young fans that take Minaj’s demonization of poor people as gospel. Except for kids like JoJo, certainly not the last to get swept up in a scene that produces music videos with kids as young as thirteen brandishing automatic weapons and throwing up gang signs. A scene that the music industry had already started to monetize.

As an immigrant raised in Queens, I doubt Minaj believes the poor are to blame for the nation’s ills and that the wealthy are better than the class she was born into. As a native of Chicago, I doubt West wants to promote music that fuels the killing of black youth. But their endorsements, ironic or otherwise, send a different message.

Whether Minaj took herself seriously or not, she used her influence to champion an elitist mindset without offering the slightest critique. Whether West intended to or not, he validated and publicized art that encourages violence, without the critical thinking artists like Lupe Fiasco have brought to the table. These messages are now tied to their brand, whether they like it or not.

Minaj and West’s missteps are unfortunate, and reflect a lesson we all should learn. An endorsement is not something to be taken lightly. Up-and-coming artists and politicians clamor for the stamp of approval of popular artists and publications for a reason. An endorsement transfers over a portion of the co-signers resources, influence, and reputation without signing a single contract. It doesn’t take an official partnership to endorse something; your words and actions speak just as loudly.

Before you align yourself with an outside person, brand, cause, or organization, do your research. It is important to have a solid understanding of what you are supporting and why you are supporting it. Your co-sign should do more than bolster your ego; it should promote your values.

The public wants the people and organizations they support to stand for something of value. Eighty-three percent of Americans say they wish brands would support causes, and 41 percent have bought a product because it was associated with a cause. With success comes an increase in power and responsibility. Ask yourself, what are you using your influence to promote?

Cortney Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @CleveInTheCity and visit her personal column The Red Read.

Say It Ain’t So! Chad Johnson Arrested for Headbutting Evelyn Lozada

August 12th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Well, this is not good.

Chad Johnson, receiver for the Miami Dolphins, was arrested Saturday night for headbutting his wife Evelyn Lozada, star of Basketball Wives, after they got into a heated dispute. According to police, the couple was at dinner when Evelyn confronted him about a receipt she’d found for a box of condoms. As they left the restaurant, the argument continued until they got outside of their home where Chad then headbutted her.

Evelyn called the police and Chad was charged with a misdemeanor for simple assault, domestic violence. He is being held until he can appear before a judge and Yahoo! reports that it might not be until Monday before that happens.  Evelyn was treated at the hospital for a cut on her forehead and then released.  The Miami Dolphins are aware of the situation and because most teams have rules about getting into such trouble, I’m sure they’ll have a few questions for Chad when they’re able to speak with him.

These two have had quite the fiery relationship from the very start and accusations of cheating have flown over them at many different times.  In fact, many were skeptical as to whether or not their July 4th wedding would actually happen (yes, they’ve only been married a month and a half).  Although you never want to see or hear about someone being abused, I would hope this isn’t yet another call for attention for their reality show.  Domestic abuse is really not something that should be taken lightly or played around with for ratings since many people deal with it (or have dealt with it) on a daily basis.

Neither of their reps have made any statements yet but I’m sure there will be something forthcoming.

My Hip-Hop Dilemma: Should I Hate Myself For Bumpin’ Morally Corrupt and Misogynist Songs?

July 20th, 2012 - By Lauren Carter
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Waka Flocka Flame

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Junior year of high school I refused to buy “Doggystyle,” the revolutionary Snoop Dogg album that set my school abuzz. It was an informal boycott based on the album’s ethos and subject matter – a seemingly nonstop celebration of decadence, violence and promiscuity. My stance lasted for about a month. Then I caved and bought the CD, listened to it faithfully for the rest of the year and kept it in regular rotation thereafter. Musically, it was near-perfect, and even if I disagreed with what Snoop was saying, I couldn’t bring myself to dislike the way he was saying it.

And so we come to my central dilemma with hip-hop, a complicated love/hate relationship that finds me scolding myself for enjoying music – on the surface, at least – that often clashes with my personal values.

Case in point: Last year, I bought the ringtone to Waka Flocka Flame’s “No Hands” against my own better judgment. The song concentrates exclusively on watching a stripper remove her panties — sans hands. At one point in the song, he even talks about running a train on a female.

But there’s that monstrous, gargantuan beat from Drumma Boy, and that captivating chorus from Roscoe Dash that turns women into sex objects but manages to entrance a self-respecting woman who should know better. I would be appalled by the excitement I feel when this song comes on in the club if I wasn’t so busy dancing. It’s only afterwards that I’m left feeling guilty and ashamed, like I just ate a carton of ice cream while watching “Jersey Shore” reruns.

It’s a similar situation with Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” Although the entirety of the song deals with females bending over and shaking their asses while Lil Jon and his posse of Eastside Boyz spew vulgarities and implore women to drop it to the floor, I essentially become a woman possessed when I hear this in the club; I’m liable to burn off my entire daily caloric intake before the song is over.

And then there’s Weezy. I appreciate Lil Wayne’s wordplay, but I often feel the need to shower after listening to his songs, which typically involve lewd descriptions of random sexual relations with some female, somewhere. “Now jump up on that d— and do a full split” Weezy instructs on “She Will.” Thanks, but she won’t be doing that anytime soon.

In spite of myself, I love Young Jeezy’s “I Luv It,” a song that revolves around drug dealing and its so-called financial rewards. I also love Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin.” I don’t want to ever not love it. I don’t want to overthink it to the point that I can’t enjoy the song. But at what point do I draw the line, say enough is enough, and decide not to sing along while rappers call us b—–s and h—s, glorify destructive lifestyles and turn the very real social ill of pimping into a punchline?

Am I supposed to excuse, for example, Clipse’s morally bankrupt tales of cocaine-slinging because they’re lyrically brilliant, and because I personally understand the conditions that leave black men feeling like drug dealing is their only escape from poverty?

Hip-hop is my favorite genre of music. Always has been, and probably always will be. While R&B from the late ‘60s and ‘70s spoke to the promise of a post-Civil Rights culture enjoying new freedoms, hip-hop was the outgrowth of broken promises, of crack-infested inner cities realizing that while old forms of oppression had fallen away, new ones had taken their place, and they often came from within: the pimp, the pusher, the player, seemingly inescapable cycles of violence and poverty.

I have defended hip-hop early and often, spouting its virtues to relatives who only know hip-hop as a Nelly song, or jazz music professors who deem it universally “aggressive” and don’t understand that rap music is, in fact, a direct outgrowth of jazz, and aggressive content is only one aspect of a much larger, more nuanced picture. I’ve spent hours explaining, educating and making and listening  to suggestions of those who think hip-hop is comprised entirely of promiscuous criminals and weed-smoking thugs.

But I’m tired of having to defend hip-hop. Tired of having to serve as a rap-to-real world translator for people who simply don’t understand the culture and see only its top layer. Tired of realizing that more and more, mainstream hip-hop is becoming that one-dimensional portrait of a black criminal or a self-absorbed hedonist, a misogynistic caricature that record companies and radio stations seem all too happy to depict and rappers seem all too willing to embody in exchange for a paycheck.

I love what hip-hop stands for in its essence: freedom, self-expression, the will to fight and overcome oppression. It emerged as the culture of the forgotten and the disenfranchised, the voice of a people that previously had none. It is the purest form of urban journalism: Chuck D of Public Enemy once called it the Black CNN.

I love hip-hop’s rhythm and its cadence, its wit and its charm, its anger and its defiance, its boldness and its swagger. I will continue to blast “Doggystyle” from my car speakers as I glide down the highway and rap gleefully along with every word. I just wish I didn’t have to temporarily stash my values on a shelf in the process.

Ladies, do you have a love/hate relationship with hip-hop? Let us know in the comments.

Lauren Carter is a writer, blogger and hip-hop head from Boston. Follow her on Twitter @ByLaurenCarter.

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Why Focusing on Mental Health Might Be Key to Decreasing Violence

June 12th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
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So, yesterday morning, I was listening to a local, black news radio station. This particular program was discussing a weekend shooting, which happened outside of a popular specialty hamburger restaurant here in Philly. According to news reports the shooting was the result of an altercation, which began between two tables outside of the eatery. The altercation eventually spilled over to a side street, where one of the guys shot the other guy he was arguing with. The shooting victim would die later at the hospital.

As I’m writing this, there have been 162 murders in Philadelphia. That number might have increased by the time you finish reading this post. As sad as that is, the senseless violence on the streets of Philadelphia has been showing up in major, and minor, cities across the country. In Chicago, a city which has been suffering through double digit shootings over the last few months, the number of Chicagoans murdered in the last decade is two and a half times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. And in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the homicide rate there exceeds the rates in New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

It should come as no surprise that handguns are the weapons of choice in most of these murders. Many folks believe our easy access to guns, is responsible for the high murder rate in the country, particularly our community. Even the host of the radio program I was listening to theorized that guns make cowards fearless and most folks nowadays are scared of a fair  one-on-one fist fight. All of those might be suitable responses however none of that really addresses the root cause of why people feel the need to resort to violence – be it with a gun or a fist fight – in the first place?

Later on in the day, I read an article in the Huffington Post about how meditation has been proven an effective treatment in lowering blood pressure among black teens. According to a group of researchers from Georgia Health Sciences University, in a study of 62 black teens with high blood pressure, those who mediated for twice a day had managed to lower left ventricular mass, thus reducing the chances of heart attacks and strokes later in life.  So what does this have to do with the murder rate?

Homicide and suicide are the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, among teens ages 15 to 19, The common belief is that most homicides are over drugs or involve gang violence however the reality is that there are a lot of hotheads out there ready to pull the trigger and take someone’s life over the most mundane reasons. We read too many stories of people dying over parking spaces and other domestic disputes than we do about folks dying over gang colors.

And that got me thinking about how so much of our existence centers around insecurity, which contributes to stress. I’m not talking about insecurity in the most vain sense of the word but the insecurity that comes from living in a situation of uncertainty.  In the 2008 PBS four hour long documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, the role that social determinants such as class and race was proven to have a greater impact on one’s health outcomes than genetics or personal behavior. According to the film poor people are often subjected to a poverty tax, which basically means that they must pay more for goods and services (including rent, food, transportation and taxes), have lower access to parks and recreation centers and are constantly living in fear of both violence and their shaky financial situation.

And let’s not forget about the impact that the persistence of racism has on the minds and spirits of black men, women and children? It has been proven that there is a clear association between experiences of racism and psychological distress for black folks. Taking all of this evidence combined, it would seem that both poverty and racism not only adversely affect one’s own mental health but also can also shorten one’s life through heart attacks, strokes and yes, even violence.  In short, what we are probably seeing across the country is a collective mental breakdown among folks, who just can’t deal anymore.

Of course, the short answer to ending violence is a consorted effort to ending racism and poverty. However, this is America: the land of exploitation and indifference. And even folks, who genuinely care about doing one or the other – or even both – find themselves spitting into the wind, so to speak. While many of us know how to survive, very few know the key to learning to deal with what is the reality of our constant situation. I’m not saying that we have to accept our fate as eternal subjugated people, but we do need to learn how to mentally work around poverty and racism so that we, as a community, can be strong enough to not only fight against the trappings of racism and poverty but also ensure that it doesn’t kill us – or worse cause us to kill somebody else.

Folks have to take care of their mental health as seriously as they do dieting and exercising. Some thing as simple as sitting quietly for 15 minutes and meditating, twice a day, could go a long way in giving yourself the clarity needed to deal with whatever situation crosses your path.

The best thing about mediating is that there is no one correct way to do it. I did a traditional, legs cross, eyes closed and palms to the sky meditation sit-in before. It wasn’t my thing plus my legs got numb after the first ten minutes. So once a week, take a walk, preferably outside of the neighborhood. There is also yoga, tai chi and chanting.  Heck, go to a park and engage in walking mediation, which teaches how to tune out the distractions and tune in to your inner self in a real life situation. I don’t know if it will cure all violence in the community but in the spirit of my favorite song by Talib Kweli, folks got to start questioning what it is they do to Get By.

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Is It Too Late? VH1 Promises No (More) Excessive Physical Confrontations on Basketball Wives

May 14th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Bossip.com

VH1 and Shed Media may be a day late and several dollars short now that viewers and advertisers have started to pull out of “Basketball Wives” and the “Chad and Ev” spinoff. The Change.org petition to boycott the shows is now up to just under 26,000 signatures and news that Summer’s Eve has pulled out of the series has finally prompted the companies behind the shows to respond—even if they are lying.

On VH1′s blog, the network and its parent company promised the violence would end, or at least slow down, on the next season Here are the statements from both entities.

From Shed:

“Shed Media US is fully committed to telling the compelling stories of the Basketball Wives in a balanced way. Our producing partner Shaunie O’Neal feels strongly about this, and we fully agree with this stance. We support her as she encourages the cast members to work out issues in a non-violent fashion. We look forward to working with her and the rest of the cast on conveying more balance in the next season.”

From VH1:

“Our viewers opinions always matter a great deal to us at VH1. Lately, there has been a lot of conversation about Basketball Wives, a series featuring strong, intelligent women with very passionate viewpoints which can sometimes escalate.

“We at VH1 agree with and support Shaunie and the show producers’ “no excessive physical confrontations” policy on the series moving forward. We are all committed to balancing the candid, bold excitement that the viewers have come to love in the series with storylines and representations they can be proud of. Shaunie has been a strong advocate for a more balanced approach to the show and we, along with our producing partners at Shed Media, are all in agreement about moving forward with that goal.”

Anyone want to take a guess at what that excessive qualifier means? At the very least, it suggests there will still be some form of violence on the show, which I have a feeling most protestors will not go for.

During the “Basketball Wives” reunion taping this weekend, Shaunie was also asked for her thoughts on the situation and she made a similar promise about cutting down on the violence and she also says she and the producers take responsibility for the backlash she receives—although she makes it seem as though she’s been advocating for this change of heart all along.

Check out her clip and tell us if you’re buying her spiel. Do you think VH1 and Shed will really listen to viewers for the next season or are they blowing smoke?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Dealing With Bullies: How Can You Keep Your Child Safe When The Schools Aren’t?

April 9th, 2012 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Source: momsla.com

I think that as long as people have gone to school, bullies have been a problem. However, it seems that today, kids are dealing with a whole new kind of bully. Almost like a super bully. One whose parents are blind to an issue, or better yet, in denial, and one whose violent and reckless behavior slides past school administrators far too easily. So how are you supposed to watch out for your kids in the hours that make up a school day (and they’re out of your hands) when everyone who is supposed to is not?

I remember when I first heard that my nephew had a bully. He’s one of my youngest nephews, and for his age, he’s a bit small (which makes him a prime target). This bully wasn’t just one of those a**holes I dealt with every once and a while as a kid who would poke fun at you and try and embarrass you in front of your peers. This snot-nosed kid had already put his hands on my nephew. In fact, he pushed my nephew down so hard in the bathroom that he hit his head on the ground and came home with a big knot. I was enraged, and of course, so was his mother–my sister-in-law.

You see, I’ve had nieces and nephews since I was a 4-year-old, and the oldest ones I have are, and have always been major athletes (it’s in our genes actually). Because they could bounce a basketball and get recognition from their peers for swinging a bat, they were deemed pretty popular. Therefore, they didn’t seem to have the burden of dealing with bullies too often (except for a niece who beat up a girl who tried to push her around…). But to finally hear that my little nephew was dealing with one, especially in a time when bullies are, as I stated earlier, super bullies (and more and more kids are committing suicide because of the harassment), I was worried. But my sister-in-law wasn’t having it. After not being able to get through to the mother of my nephew’s bully after telling the school, she went up to the young’n during lunch time, caught him while he was eating and let him know the real deal: “If you put your hands on my son again, you’re going to have to deal with me!” When I heard that she did this, I was kind of embarrassed for my nephew and thought she made the wrong move (what if his mother started coming around throwing threats?)…but that was until I saw the documentary Bully.

10-year-old Jasmine McClain was tormented by bullies so much that she committed suicide in 2011.

The recently released and much talked about film was so jarring because it put faces and names to the issue of bullying, aside from what we already know through school shootings, suicides, and our own personal experiences. They followed every kind of child, from a gay teenager struggling to get an education in peace, a boy with Asperger’s who was literally getting terrorized on the bus every day, to the families of young men who committed suicide, and even a teen who pulled a gun on her bullies while riding the school bus. While their experiences were haunting, nothing was probably more scary than watching a school administrator in the documentary blow off a family’s claim of abuse on their son (“They’re really just angels”), and try to solve a bully-victim issue by having two students shake hands. SHAKE HANDS!? I wanted to shake her. I realized that she was part of the problem and that in schools all across the country, there are many administrators just like her. Blind as bats and living like the society we’re living is a scene from “Happy Days.”

As much as I wanted to say that my sister-in-law had acted crazy a few months ago, while watching the documentary, I realized that there really isn’t a right move to keeping your kids safe when others aren’t stepping up and doing so when it’s their job–as both an administrator and parent. Was she supposed to wait until the bully broke my nephew’s nose or beat him like a mule? The boy’s mother clearly wasn’t going to wake up and smell the coffee (that her child is a heathen), so while I don’t agree with my sister-in-law’s actions 100 percent, sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do. Seriously, when you have people turning a blind eye to the bullying, saying it’s kids being kids and thinking things will be solved by having the bully and victim shake hands, it seems as though you really don’t have a choice.

In the end, if you were wondering, beef between my nephew and his bully seemed to calm down; not because my sister-in-law intervened, but because my nephew found a way to put him in his place. While in school minding his business, the bully pushed my nephew and called him a “baby.” Much to the bully’s surprise, my nephew must have downed his Wheaties in the morning, because he pushed him back pretty hard and said, “I’m not a baby!” That troublemaker somehow received the message, and for the most part, he isn’t terrorizing my nephew anymore (or sadly, maybe my nephew just isn’t saying anything anymore…).

In this day and age, it seems that the best way to get a bully off your back is to just stand up to them on your own; but it’s pretty sad to think that it’s left to a cornered kid by his or herself to deal with a bully situation these days.

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