The Need for Character-Based Success: Ray Rice\’s Disillusionment of \”A Man\’s World\”



The nation watches as Ray Rice\’s career fails before he could put it in fourth gear. His domestic abusive behavior is not new news. We have heard the rumors that he hit his then fiancée, Janay Palmer. So we could not understand why Janay would move forward with the wedding. They were arrested as a result of the altercation. The NFL spanked the couple on the hand and gave Ray a pass. Though uncomfortable, the public acquiesced to the quick handling of the situation. Ray\’s (now) wife seems okay with their way of making-up and moving on. After all, it\’s their life. So, we shrugged the rumored dispute and violent act off with the thought, “If they are happy, so are we.” But the past is back to haunt Ray, Janay, the NFL, and society.

One is compelled to pause and wonder if Janay is really okay. Did she move forward with the wedding out of fear for her life? Does she blame herself for the elevator incident? Is she that in love? Was she drunk with the wine of being called a \”football wife?\” Are things really cool between Ray and Janay or do they just keep it out of the public\’s eye? Certainly, they know more about each other than we do. So, perhaps, Ray really is nice to Janay, until he get\’s mad at her. Human emotions go back and forth. Perhaps, it was really a domestic dispute that spiraled out of control. Lots of questions and room for speculation from the public. To some degree, we don\’t need to know everything about a private dispute. But abuse and violence are beyond the scope of toleration. If Ray is to become an all-American athlete, the public wants to understand his unacceptable abusive behavior, and Janay\’s violent actions as well, for that matter.

Recently, TMZ has released the elevator video that graphically images Rice when he carelessly threw a blow to his then fiancée, Janay’s face. The blow is so hard that it ultimately knocks her unconscious. Then, Ray drags her halfway out of the elevator and allows her to fall on her face, as she lay limply out cold. It is quite unnerving to watch. If this was the first incident of abuse between them, why the heck is Ray so apathetic? The scene plays as a normal procedure to force Janay to back-off in Ray\’s \”Man\’s World.\” In other words, \”Just knock her out. She will back-off when she wakes up.\” While the exact thought is not something that we could deduce. But this mind-set seems quite apparent. Preposterous, to say the least! Moreover, I applaud the Baltimore Ravens for resolving to terminate Rice’s contract and the NFL for suspending him indefinitely.

Domestic abuse is a problem in many homes around the world. I am particularly concerned with this pandemic among relationships of people of color. It often hides out in the complexities of urban life or even rural life for that matter. This is old. It has happened for many years. Men have often release their frustration on women and children in violent ways. Thankfully, in recent years, the genius of surveillance video cameras are bringing what is in the dark to the light. Think about it. If TMZ did not release this video for public consumption, another heinous act of domestic violence at the hand of an NFL player would have likely gone unaddressed. And another talented player would have risen to stardom without true success. It’s a shame that fighting and making up is a way of life for many relationships.

Children grow up watching. Little boys learn how to demean and abuse women; and little girls grow up thinking that they need to \”act better\” to avoid being disciplined by their man. This is that type of schooling that is caught more than taught — lesson by experience. So, when they (someday) have families of their own, guess what is likely to be the case. You got it. They often repeat what they have seen. It becomes a cycle of violence. Many battered women seem addicted to the violence. More of them do not report it than the cases that we are aware of. In some cases, it gives her “street cred” to be with a bad boy. Many of them tend either to blame themselves for the violence or to feel that they must remain in violent situations for fear of their lives. Both scenarios are preposterous.

While a female may indeed start the fight, or may hit first, a man needs to think rationally to protect her rather than to fight her. That ole, \”This is a Man\’s World\” should be an epitaph on James Brown\’ grave. Before the 21st century, misogynistic music, male-dominated theology, and andro-centric social constructs naively nurtured domestic violence toward women. The idea that men have the right to hit, punch, and treat women with disrespect misconstrues what it means to be a respectable man. Men should seek the protection and the defense of women as the women should do the same for their men. The disillusionment that accompanies the mis-idea that this is \”A Man\’s World\” is both crippling and the disdain of society. We need greater civility in relationship disagreements. No one should be hitting anyone!

21st Century music, theology and social constructs must seek peace and love. Everyone deserves respect. Everyone should give respect. I don\’t mean to be too hard on Ray Rice. He needs restorative justice. I hope that he does not go to prison. It would make a guilty society feel better.

True justice is restorative. False justice is reactionary to the leaking of an embarrassing video; that kind of justice that throws another person, another man (clear throat) — another black man in prison. But prison would not remedy Rice\’s problem.

I am confident that Ray\’s current state of public humiliation shows him the seriousness of his error. But Ray and Janay are product of a deeper cultural malady; Rice and so many others of us needs help. Also, I hope that Janay gets the help that she needs. Few people admit that she was wrong to hit Rice, as well. Both of them are victims of a broader societal problem. Rice is the perpetrator because he hit too hard; but violence is wrong for men and women. It is important, moreover, that his contract from the Baltimore Ravens is terminated.

Sports serve as a centerpiece of American culture. It is about time that the NFL and others seek higher standards for their players. Ray is not the only one who needs to be vetted. But, this situation is a great place to start. All of the young men and women who loves sports need to learn (if they don\’t know already) that it is not only inappropriate to commit domestic violence but it is also immoral.

There is no success where there is a lack of integrity. The famous running back needs to run back to the foundation of success to cling to principles necessary for true success. Money is not everything. A principles-driven lifestyle is necessary for true success. I hope that Ray Rice becomes a proponent against domestic violence, leading a generation to principle-driven success with respect for women. Money is not power. A football contract is not power. Character is power! Let\’s learn from lesson from the Rice incident.

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
Welcome to my blog

This blog site is where I share matters related to society, the church, and the academy. I hope my thoughts are meaningful to you. Theology

Read More »