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.


7 Responses to “The Bus Driver: A Brotha with A Mission”

  1. I’m a white man who saw the video and would probably have done the very same thing that the black bus driver did; however, I think I would have taken something off my punch–just a wee bit. Man, did he ever hit her hard.

  2. I’m am 71 and White. I think the gentleman gave the young lady every opportunity to behave reasonably. She got what she deserved. I wouldn’t have taken anything off my punch…then again I think there would be a lot of outrage over MY racist behavior.

    It begs the question, did the young lady behave in a sexist manner? Surely he won’t punch my ass?

  3. Walking is not crowded.

  4. Kimberly Towns Says:

    I always tend to think very deeply when I see things like this because as bad as it looks, it still stands true that there’s always three sides to every story; hers, his and the truth. In this case, however, the video gives him a little more credibility and tips the scales in his favor.

    Based on what I saw in the video and putting myself in the bus driver’s shoes, I think he did have the right to retaliate in self defense because it was clear that the young woman was going to keep egging him on until he did something.

    Do I think he went overboard? Most definitely. However, in a fit of rage, you really can’t gauge how far a person will take their degree of retaliation. In fact, we don’t even know what we ourselves are capable of when provoked to that degree. That’s why people are often exonerated for “crimes of passion” and can legitimately plead “innocent by reason of temporary insanity”. Why? Because there’s actual scientific evidence that proves that something happens to us physiologically when provoked to a great degree that could render a person temporarily incapable of reasonable judgement. In this man’s case, I believe he was so enraged that he temporarily lost the ability to gauge what most would consider “reasonable force” to restrain this woman. In modern vernacular, he “went off”, “lost it” and “cleaned her clock”.

    He probably regretted it later especially in light of the fact that he lost his job. But in the heat of the moment, he did what he felt he had to do.

    Witnesses say he said (and I believe you can hear him saying it on the video) “if you want to act like a man, I’m going to treat you like a man”. To me that even further substantiates this theory because in that moment he saw her as his equal and in his altered state of judgement, felt justified in beating her with the same force he would have fought a man.

    Also, this young woman didn’t know this man’s background and while most men do live by the credo that a man should never hit a woman, she didn’t know this man from a bag of doughnuts nor his history. He could have had a history of being violent to women, mentally disturbed, grieving the loss of a loved one or just having a really bad day. Either way, when you provoke someone to that degree, especially when you don’t know that person, you really are gambling with your life because he could have killed her.

    And to me, spitting on someone escalates an altercation to a whole ‘notha level because that’s probably the most degrading thing you can do to another human being.

    I think the reason a lot of women appear to take the stance that “she got what she deserved” is because she didn’t appear to have been provoked to the same degree she provoked the bus driver.

    Had he spit on or physically abused her first, maybe. But this didn’t appear to be the case. Clearly the young woman was ignorant and quite comfortable starting and maintaining drama. Maybe she’s accustomed to being beaten and wanted him to hit her because as sick as it sounds, maybe that’s her “comfort zone”. Or perhaps she’s used to bullying men who’ve never hit her back.

    The thing she didn’t consider is that this man had no relationship to her and unlike a relative, lover or friend who may have walked away because of a relational attachment to her, this man clearly had no qualms in jacking her up. She obviously didn’t anticipate what transpired but I bet in the future she’ll think before provoking a stranger to that degree.

    What it comes down to is this. Based on what I witnessed, the young woman was far from innocent in this situation. She could have easily diffused the situation by getting off the bus or paying the fare and taking a seat.

    She chose otherwise, took a gamble and lost.

  5. Kimberly Towns Says:

    By the way, I’m an African-American female who probably fits the demographic of most of the woman you interviewed.

  6. Just viewed the new video. It makes me angry that this uncivilized “you know what I mean” idiot is not behind bars; also, just as angering is that the bus driver is being suspended without pay. Were she to say to the driver, “Get up, I want to drive,” and then yank him out of hit seat, should he comply or wait another second to punch her lights out? The courts and the Power Elite perpetuate such godawful behavior. And for the same reason, the school teachers can’t teach, and the students are getting sassier and dumber every year.

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