Jonathan Martin, I Respect You
I think the title says it all, but I strongly respect Jonathan for coming forward. To be a man of color in the NFL willing to walk away for the sake of his safety says a lot. To be open about the abuse that he was subjected to by Richie Incognito..it just inspires me. He did something that many men, let alone men of color, would not do.
Make no bones about it, Martin was bullied. He was harassed. He was verbally abused. His work environment was made hostile. Incognito did not just give him a little playful rookie heckling, he threatened Jonathan's life. As if he did not disrespect that man enough, he calls him a "half nigger". Yes, yes, y'all...add racism to that.
My support of Jonathan Martin comes because he went against society's norms. Before the content of the voicemails were released, commenters confirmed why many men stay silent when they are victimized:
"Dude, man up"
"Rookies can't hack it"
Even though Richie was wrong, people felt as if Jonathan was supposed to "deal with it" because "that's what men do". We all know men are expected to do or not do certain things. It makes me wonder if that is why some men felt the need to commit suicide. I can only imagine the pain and pressure that some men have internalized for so long. Even in the face of dark times, that are expected to "be strong". It sucks..because it takes more strength to be honest about your pain (physical and emotional) and seek healing.
I truly applaud Jonathan..because he is a game-changer. He is a 300+ pound athlete..in the NFL..who is a victim of bullying. He could have easily done as many men have done before him and kept quiet. I hope that coming forward will show people (not just children) that being verbally abused is not okay, that nobody is immune from being subjected to another person's ignorance. I want people to see that you have the right to sanity and peace..rookie be damned. If "playful heckling" makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to speak up. You don't have to "go along" with a damn thing if you aren't emotionally safe..and that applies to family, friends and coworkers alike.
To young men, you aren't a punk for coming forward. It isn't weak to protect your mental health. You aren't a wimp to report abusive behavior. Don't let anyone tell you what "men don't do" because anyone can be a victim. Be strong and be encouraged. Know that people who are unhappy within themselves seek someone to make as unhappy as they are. If you are in his or her path when he or she is feeling some kind of way, prepare to be tried. Take note that people know who to try..
Oh and last but not least, stop accepting ignorant behavior as a part of someone's personality. Richie Incognito's past is littered with abuse, brash behavior and harassment. That means that Jonathan Martin is not Richie's only victim..that Jonathan didn't just set him off. Dude has long been a damn fool. "That's just how he is" is not acceptable! Being an abuser's friend doesn't help keep you safe because they'll abuse you too.
I know I tooted up, but I felt the need to speak on this. I have the utmost respect for Jonathan Martin for going against "type". I stand behind him as a person seeking mental liberation. I'm sure it's hard to walk away from a career in the NFL..especially so early in his life. I want people to see that there is nothing wrong with protecting yourself. Get beyond this thing where men have to "be" a certain way. Be strong, be wise, be safe and be alive. Everytime we say "ignore the bullies", we tell people that their feelings are inferior. It's time to stand the hell up to these damn fools. Bullies know who to try and who to leave alone..therefore, it's time to show these ignorant fools who NOT to test!