Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Going Off"

A punch to the face hurts. A punch to the face of a young woman by a man hurts more because it not only hurts the recipient of the punch, but likewise hurts the hearts of any men who to some reasonable extent value women as flowers to be protected. But the punch to the face, beyond how it hurts the recipient and hurts our hearts, is a prime example of the penalty often paid for the widespread phenomenon of “going off”.

The phrase “go off” in this context is derived from the common usage referring to a bomb exploding. We hear folks refer to a bomb “going off”. In much the same way, a person is referred to as “going off” when that person, as a result of anger, offense, discontent, fear, etc., loses control of their emotions and behavior often resulting in irrational and overaggressive behavior. They often become loud, confrontational and volatile. Such behavior has often resulted in detriment not only to the person “going off”, but likewise the people close to them.

A controversial incident occurred more than a year ago in Bellaire, Texas (a suburb of Houston). Robbie Tolan was shot in front of his house after being ordered to the ground under the suspension of auto theft. We know now that he was unarmed and driving his own car, but he ended up with a non-fatal, yet quite detrimental gunshot wound. Why did this happen? It is because his mother came outside and WENT OFF. Her actions resulted in her being pushed against the garage door, which in turn caused Robbie, who was lying on the ground, to react as any young man would when seeing his mother manhandled. He got up to protect his mother. This resulted in a gunshot wound, hospitalization and surgery. Consider that both of his parents came out of the house. Only one WENT OFF and that one was his mother. Her reaction and Robbie’s subsequent reaction served as the officer’s defense in the criminal trial. The officer was acquitted of all charges.

I posted the above video a while ago but it is a strong enough example to show again. This is a very prime example of GOING OFF. This woman went completely off due to taking offense to overhearing someone criticizing her attempts to cut the line. This resulted in the guy who was criticizing her being beaten to a pulp by her 300 pound ex-convict boyfriend and that same boyfriend going back to prison for a rather long time as a result. Nothing productive came out of her GOING OFF. Plenty of negativity came out of it.

Now back to the recent event. A young lady was accosted by a Seattle police officer for jaywalking. As a result, the young lady WENT OFF. Now a reasonable person who is thinking rationally would know that resisting the police almost NEVER accomplishes anything. It doesn’t prevent you from being arrested. It doesn’t prevent you from getting a ticket. It doesn’t prevent you from being shot. If anything, it makes arrest, shooting and ticketing more likely. What this young lady accomplished was making a situation far worse than it should have been and causing a naive friend to take a masculine punch to the face. Now I know that there are those out there who are itching to ask why the young men watching didn’t physically defend the women. Well, this takes me back to the pizza shop video and the incident in Bellaire, Texas. Often when women go off, men suffer the most. Let’s say that one of the young men did go up and begin fighting the police officer. What could have happened? Well, for one, he would have been committing a felony. Second, the risk of being shot instead of punched in the face would have been far greater for him (as was shown in the case of Robbie Tolan). The one guy who did get physically involved did so intelligently by attempting to restrain the young lady who got punched. But this goes to show just how much potential there is for men to suffer due to women GOING OFF.

Now here is the next point. Without a doubt, “going off” is a staple of black women and many actually take pride in this. It’s the notion that sistas don’t take any sh*t. This is a part of what so many black women view as their “strength”. Over aggressiveness, knee-jerk reactions, being confrontational, being argumentative, showing stubbornness, tactlessness and feistiness, etc. are things that many black women pride themselves on. This is what defines the “strong black woman” today. What we are seeing more and more of are black women suffering the consequences of such behavior. The unfortunate McDonald’s incident comes to mind when the teenage girls took repeated punches from a grown man (who I think has yet to be identified). We are seeing more and more black women getting tazered and manhandled by police. I have personally seen groups of police having to team up to arrest an irate black woman.

Such behavior has often put black men at risk due to the traditional desire of men to protect women. Black men have been shot or incarcerated because of defending black girlfriends who have unnecessarily gotten involved in confusion. What we are beginning to see now are black men being less and less likely to defend black women and furthermore, we are seeing the same thing from non-black men. Chivalry is dying everywhere and is practically dead in the black community because many men are tired of defending those who are more than willing to start trouble.

Men are also tired of being on the receiving end of those who “go off”. That is why so many black men are quick to curse women out today. Men often feel the need to save face because it is so common for women to go off on them in public with no consideration of how humiliating that is to men. Many black men are resisting commitment to those who would routinely go off on them during the relationship. Even the best of black men have to walk on eggshells when around their women and these women seem to not understand why men are so resentful of being talked crazy, yet lose respect for these same men when they take being talked crazy to in stride.