Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s career in the NFL is almost certainly over, and it’s all our fault.
All of us who threatened to boycott the NFL, all of us who sent NFL commissioner Roger Goodell angry letters about his initial decision to only suspend Rice for a measly two days, all of us who vowed to boo Rice every time he stepped on the field.
Social media erupted in July when the news initially came out that Rice had dragged his then-fiancee, now-wife Janay out of an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and that he was begin given a slap on the wrist from the NFL.
After TMZ released the video of what happened inside the elevator—Rice cold-clocking Janay and her hitting the rail, then floor, unconscious— the Ravens and the NFL acted quickly.
The negligence surrounding the entire case is astounding. From the court sentencing Rice to an intervention program, a luxury not afforded to most guys who knock their partners out cold, to the Ravens essentially sticking up for him on their team website, to the NFL giving Rice a slap-on-the-wrist two-game suspension, the response was meager at best.
But we spoke up, roused the rabbles; we let everyone involved know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And now Ray Rice is being dropped from the NFL.
And that makes me happy.
It makes me happy because we often feel powerless, don’t we? We see the world filled with institutions and policies that make the hair on the back of our necks stand up. We feel like we can picket, rally, vote with our dollars, and blog all day long, but it never feels like we make any headway.
But we do.
Don’t get me wrong, this decision doesn’t help the millions of American men and women who have suffered domestic violence, but it does show a clear message that there has been a distinct change in our willingness to speak out about how unacceptable it is to use violence in confrontation.
Because when we picket and rally the news trucks start showing up. When we vote with our dollars, the NFL team owners’ ears start perking up. And when we blog with enough passion, our aunts and mothers and fathers and friends start to get fired up.
We are more powerful than we ever imagined, and with our powers combined we have the ability to change the world.
And the NFL just proved it.
Why stop with domestic violence in the NFL? Together we can tackle domestic violence everywhere. We can get rid of sexual harassment. We can put a halt to the militarization of police. We can end the encroachment of the government into our lives.
We have long suspected that the only real change will be societal, not political, and now we know for certain that it is the easier and longer lasting route.
But we can probably only do it if we work together.
Won’t you join me?