The Bus Driver: A Brotha with A Mission
By Nicholas Maurice Young, Ph. D.
A few weeks ago, the media in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio revealed to its viewing and national audience a cellphone video confrontation between a 52-year old African-American male RTA (Regional Transit Authority) public bus driver and a 25-year old African-American female passenger. The video captures the young woman and the bus driver being belligerent toward each other—cursing at each other, and making withering and disparaging comments about each person’s physical features. It appears that the verbal jousting began when the young woman, who the local press erroneously referred to as a “girl,” refused to pay the required fare for riding the bus. The driver asked her more than once to pay the fare, but she refused to do so. The next few moments after this exchange the young woman began cursing at the bus driver. Eventually, the bus driver began to do the same.
The young woman then assaulted the bus driver while he was driving the bus. She spit on him. She slapped him on the back of his head. At that point, the bus driver told the young woman that she was going to jail for assaulting him. Amazingly, he raised up out of his seat, walked over to the young woman, and dropped her with one of the greatest uppercut punches in the history of uppercuts. To be sure, the bus driver knocked her up in the air, and off of her feet. Upon knocking her off of her feet, the bus driver made the following statement: “You wanna hit a man, I will treat you like a man!” Incredibly, the bus driver picked up the young woman, and threw her off of the bus. Surprising, the young woman came back on the bus and threatened physical harm to him, by way of an attack by her father and or boyfriend.
As a result of these events, I decided to conduct an unofficial, random poll in the Cleveland area about the incident. I asked a combined total amount of 100 Starbucks and Lifetime Fitness customers the following question: “Did the bus driver do the right thing when he uppercut that young woman?”
I chose those two locations because of the following factors. First, I spend much of my time at both locations. As a writer, I do much of my writing at the Starbucks that I conducted the poll. Further, I work out on a regular basis at a Lifetime Fitness location in the same neighborhood. Thus, I am very familiar with both locations. Secondly, both locations are usually populated by middle class to upper-middle class customers. Third, the neighborhood has a good mix of Blacks and Whites that patronize the Starbucks and Lifetime Fitness. Thus, I hypothesized that due to the geographic and economic similarity of both of the patron groups, there would likely be some similarity in their responses to my question.
I asked about 100 African-Americans (about 50% men, 50% women) my question. Surprisingly, 47 out of the 50 African American women that I spoke to stated that they agreed that the bus driver did the right thing, compared to 20 out of 50 African American men who said the same thing. When I asked each person to expound about why they chose to agree or disagree with the statement, I received the following responses from women: “That Bitch got what she deserved;” She should have known better to hit that man. What did she expect him to do?;” “He should not have done that; From men: “That was wrong. A man should never hit a woman; Damn! He fucked her up. I bet she won’t hit a man again!; She deserved it!
Exactly why more women than men believed that the bus driver did the right thing when he punched that young woman confounds me. What does that say about the condition of the African American man and women in today’s society? What does it say about what African–American woman think and feel about themselves, and other African-American women? What does it say about how African American men think and feel about themselves, and other African-American men? Are we currently witnessing the dismantling of our community?
In short, like most of the African-American men that I have been around, I was taught that a man should never hit a woman. Never. However, I must ask the following questions: Should a man allow a woman to beat and disrespect him the way that young woman did without retaliating against her? When should a man be able to protect himself from a woman that is abusive toward him?
To the ladies, I say the following: If a man hits you, you must protect yourself from such an attack. But please know this: If you hit a man, make it count, and please make sure that you are not around when he wakes up.