The National Football League left me no choice.
And in the paraphrased parlance of all those iconic black self-help mammas — Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou — who all seem to be sampling and remixing quotes and advice from one another from the same feel-good weekend, I now know it’s not just other people who show us our worth by how they treat us.
It is also professional sports leagues.
Personal boycotts have always worked for me: I don’t have to attend organizing meetings, join any committees, make signs, jeopardize my already shaky standing in the community or risk being further ostracized within my family.
Launching a personal boycott is much like releasing a silent fart in a dense crowd. Where did it come from and whom does it belong to?
Only I can answer those questions.
Take ownership, beholden to no one.
The mounting evidence of the NFL’s epidemic scourge of employing women and children batterers as highly paid professional football players has been a perfect storm resulting in my decision to boycott professional football.
And I am a bleary-eyed fan, a woman who knowingly stays awake late Sunday nights into the beginnings of countless Monday mornings knowing full well columns are due and student papers are stacked up awaiting my attention and that sleep is my greatest ally in all the small but significant intellectual wars I wage weekly.
A USA Today database reports that women comprise 45 percent of the NFL’s fan base, meaning we’re not just suffering through professional football games to endear ourselves to our men or so we can be in on the secret language they speak among themselves.
Women, for the same reasons men do, like football.
In a week when Ravens’ running back Ray Rice will appeal his NFL ouster, when Carolina Panthers’ defensive end Greg Hardy is appealing his guilty verdict of beating and dragging his girlfriend, when Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson is scrutinized for beating and scarring his 4-year-old son and San Francisco 49ers’ defensive tackle Ray McDonald has been allowed to play pending the outcome of allegations he abused his pregnant fiancée, it’s nothing short of revolutionary for a woman — a black woman, particularly — to turn her back on this thing she loves indescribably, since many of the violated women victimized by these men cannot seem to do the same.
Black women have loved and contorted ourselves for flawed black men since the Scripture and sometimes at the risk of our own safety and our very lives and those of our children.
That a spate of “professional” black men in the NFL are being outed for being bare-knuckled bullies is no longer merely a topic for domestic violence blogs, but also for the devastatingly casual nature of intra-racial couple violence black women have martyred through for generations.
So, to show myself how much I love myself, it is killing me softly to turn my back on professional football. It’s nearly impossible — but wholly doable — to pry myself away from my compulsory love of watching the game. It’s akin to going a full 24 hours without compulsively touching my year-old nappy crown, or weaning myself off the “crack Coke” at McDonald’s (which I’m certain is a special formula devised only for the fast-food chain) or trying not to jump out of bed to Swiffer the bedroom floor at the sight of one crumb or tumbleweed of dirt and lint.
It is shameful to knowingly participate in something — especially as a seemingly passive spectator — when the people with the power to protect victims and change environments are too busy thinking of false narratives and long-term strategies.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should step down, but not before penning and publishing an epic statement of literary caliber to the public.
According to CNN, 84 NFL players have been accused of and arrested on domestic violence charges since 2000. Goodell, commissioner since 2006, made $44.2 million in 2012, a 50 percent increase above the previous year, according to the website CNN Money. Between 2008 and 2012, Goodell pulled down $105 million, beginning with an annual $3 million base pay that sky rocketed with bonuses and incentives.
All this means is Goodell got rich with the knowledge his league was plagued by a serious problem with off-field violence among his players.
Added to the too much, too little, too late new rules of punishment Goodell handed down only after outcry over Rice’s original two-game punishment reached a fever pitch, this information is doubly offensive to me as a black woman.
It devalues black women’s lives and safety and it values black men only for as fast as they can run, how well they can catch and how aggressively they can tackle. It says black physical prowess, as it relates to the continued building and uplift of the kingdom of the NFL, must be protected at all costs, literally pitting black women against black men.
The veil is lifting. What will happen?
I will not again pander to “Why didn’t she leave?” The psychosexual nuances are too case specific, and unless any of us have been beaten and terrorized by someone we thought loved us or we have been the batterer, it’s best not to speculate and judge.
I can say with great fatigue and weariness that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to live an easy, escapist life in America and do it with any level of consciousness.
Once I find out how big-box stores mistreat their workers or pay women less than men or I hear ignorant racist comments aimed at our president coming from the mouths of owners of well-known pizza delivery chains, then my world gets ever smaller; my choices more serious and my truths more glaring.
I could behave like everything is Kool and the Gang and just go along to get along, cheering for my favorite quarterback and letting work slide until the final whistle.
But I’m worth more than that; more even, than Goodell’s severance package.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: [email protected]