Commentary: Russell Wilson Is on the Frontlines Against Domestic Violence

Commentary: Russell Wilson Is on the Frontlines Against Domestic Violence

Seattle Seahawks QB starts foundation to address problem of men bullying women.

Published October 6, 2014

Such a question to Russell Wilson is silly: Why was he interested in leading a campaign against domestic violence?

The better question, though, is this: Why not?

While Black men with public profiles like Wilson’s might find the violence against women unconscionable, they have stayed mainly silent. They have left the speaking on the issue to men like Roger Goodell, a white man worried more about the image of the NFL brand than he is about the ongoing problem of brutality against women.

His ham-handed handling of the Ray Rice incident proves that Goodell is both tone-deaf to the issue of domestic violence and ignorant about how to handle men who do beat women.

Maybe Wilson doesn’t know much more than Goodell does about handling the problem, but he’s willing to stand up and work to do something about it. For that, Wilson deserves more high-fives for his startup effort here than for what he did to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl win.

Winning a Super Bowl is a public win, thrusting stars into the headlines and on to success peddling consumer products. Leading a public campaign on an issue as volatile as domestic violence might do the society more good but could damage an image that a man like Wilson had worked hard to cultivate.

Yet he seems not to care about what will happen to his image. His stance against domestic violence leaves him no room for timidity, but he’s not looking to be timid on this issue.

''I've been silent on the issue for too long, falling back on the 'I can't speak to someone else's personal life' excuse,” Wilson said in a column he wrote for Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter’s new website. “But victims need physical, emotional and financial support and care, and the resources to get away from their abusers. Abusers, you need to get help — you can change.''

Wilson plans to offer help. He has started an organization called the Why Not You Foundation, an organization that will speak to his interest in seeing domestic violence curbed across America, not just in the NFL.

To his credit, Wilson has answered the “Why Not You” part of questions that have come his way. He admits he was a bully in his boyhood, and bullying is what violence against women is.

Yet we know bullies can be helped, and Wilson and his organization are offering to help.

Whether other athletes will join him, who can say. We all realize that bullies — a large number of Black males among them — seem more willing to listen to star athletes than to close friends or to family or to the apologetic Ray Rices and Chris Browns out there.

Getting perpetrators of such crimes to listen is a start, and Wilson understands he has heavy lifting ahead of him. He’s fine with doing the lifting, particularly if it lessens the number of domestic violence cases.

He just hopes other men with a star’s profile like his will stand on the frontline next to him or will speak loudly about the problem in public.

Why him?

That’s not a good question.

A better one, though, is: Why not you, too?

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill

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