If you had three daughters

Today’s post was contributed by Rob Teilhet, an Atlanta attorney and former state legislator.

Rob TeilhetIn the span of about 72 hours since Donald Sterling was revealed as a racist on audiotape, the NBA moved decisively by banning him for life and setting in motion a process that will force him to sell his team. There is no place in the NBA for a racist. It has been awesome to see an organization not only get it, but act on it without hesitation.

There is another issue that I wish we would move on with the same urgency: violence against women.

Just as I heard Donald Sterling on tape describing his abhorrent views regarding race, I also saw on videotape Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend’s limp body through a casino lobby. Her body was limp because he had beaten her unconscious in front of several witnesses minute before. He is still in the NFL and is still a Raven.

The Tallahassee Police Department declined to investigate an alleged sexual assault of a female student by a football player at the local university, an activity that had been videotaped. Had the tape been obtained and witnesses interviewed at the time of the report, we would probably know whether the assault that was alleged took place. Now, we’ll never know. Everyone involved with the exception of the alleged victim continues in the same capacity they were in before, and no one has been sanctioned or faced discipline in any way for any of it.

In Ann Arbor, the placekicker and star left tackle were alleged to have been involved in a sexual assault and subsequent harassment of the victim. For four years no action was taken. The placekicker was eventually expelled from school–after his eligibility had expired. In the FSU and Michigan cases, the federal government will require some answers for why these public universities chose to do so little. The investigations into the institution’s inaction will last months, probably even years. Would we have accepted that timeline for Mr. Sterling?

And just this morning, I read that we still do not know the answer to what seems to be a relatively simple question: Did Vanderbilt’s then-football coach contact a woman in the days after she made a sexual assault report against four of the team’s players and if he did, what was the nature and purpose of that contact? That is an easy question to find out the answer to, yet it has not been done. It hasn’t been done either because no one in authority cares whether it happened or they don’t want to know the answer. Both are unacceptable.

The saddest part is that I could keep going all morning. When women are the victims, there is so very little action, and it is so very, very late. And people seem to be largely o.k. with that.

Maybe if you had three daughters, you’d feel differently.

Thinking out loud about black men

There’s been A LOT of commentary and punditry, and several peaceful demonstrations, since The Verdict was announced Saturday night. I have heard and read a little of the coverage, but I prefer to focus on what change we as individuals, and as a country, can do to protect our children, ALL our children.

It occurred to me in the still dark hours this morning while I listened to NPR (my husband got up extra early to start on a project at work) that we really need to make our streets and communities safe for black men of every age, and to get to the heart of the matter, all men of color. While we’re at it, let’s make the streets safe for gay and transgendered men of all colors.

Then I thought about how unsafe our streets, homes, schools, Armed Forces, and businesses are for women.

Maybe I should have had a second cup of coffee, but next my mind frog-leaped to the fact that as long as we compartmentalize our calls for justice based on the most recent murder, mass shooting, movie, or state legislature vote, we are not setting the lens wide enough to see the whole picture.

I’m not suggesting that we can come up with an overnight “one size fits all” solution to the injustices and inequalities in our country. Unfortunately, as the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling shows, change can take generations. It’s just that I don’t think Treyvon Martin’s generation can, or should have to, wait any longer.