She Hit Me First

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I saw the video first on Facebook. A Christian author and speaker whom I follow had shared it on her page. It’s one of those videos that has reached the acclaimed status of “viral.” It’s a video of a white woman calling the police upset about some blacks having a barbeque in a park in Oakland. I don’t agree with what this woman is doing, especially if her actions are truly racist. Racism is wrong, destructive, and immature.

However, I am also disgusted with the individual who is recording this white woman, in addition to the masses of people who have attacked this woman as well. It’s ironic that everyone can see the woman’s injustice and racism as an act of cruelty, yet nobody seems to even notice the cruelty and the mistreatment that is happening to this woman. And those who do notice the cruelty simply justify it because this white woman did wrong first. When I found the video on YouTube, I glanced at the comments out of curiosity. It was filled with angry and mean remarks directed at this woman. I’m sure it kept going but I stopped reading after the first five comments.

It is unreal how many people have mocked this woman online. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has even received a few death threats. The way she has been treated is cruel. I even found a video clip of Woopie Goldberg taking a few cheap shots at her as well on the talk show The View, and everyone is laughing right along with her.

I’m not saying that we should excuse the racist, cruel, and wrongful behavior. I’m not watering down her actions and minimize them. But I am saying that to confront someone’s cruel behavior with cruel behavior is toxic and destructive. And, I think the cruelty with which this white woman has been treated, far exceeds the cruelty she is responsible for that day. Yet somehow we are so willing to justify the second offenders because the first offender started it. She hit me first.

There is no room for racism, and it is good to bring to our attention the reality that racism is still a problem. But to unleash upon this woman and tear her to shreds, really? That was not necessary, and furthermore, it was distasteful, immature, and a poor way to handle the situation. In fact, it was a very lousy and ineffective way to deal with the situation. She has been bullied by the masses, including by celebrities, which only helps validate and encourage the bullying that others are doing. Bullying the bully doesn’t fix the problem, it just creates more problems while amplifying the problems already at hand.


I just started reading the book When We Don’t See Eye to Eye: Using The Weapon of Love to Overcome Anger and Aggression, by David Pulsipher. He spoke at a TEDx conference on the Weapons of Love articulating how “confrontational compassion defeats violence.”  His thinking around the subject of “Confrontational Compassion” is noteworthy and offers value and a more productive perspective than that of which the media and our culture at large have offered to us. The following is an excerpt from his book.

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“Peace through violence. Think how often our entertainment media reinforces this linear narrative. And we are so well trained that most of us feel cheated–and the fictional world seems unbalanced–if the villain doesn’t somehow ‘get it’ by the end of the story. The violence doesn’t even have to be physical. We expect mean or greedy characters, for example, to also somehow ‘get their dues,’ usually in the form of some humiliation. Only then can an appropriate balance be restored, peace be achieved, and the conflict be resolved.

“Through a constant barrage of examples (most of them fictional or distorted), we learn that the honorable way to resist aggression is with counterattacks, that noble violence will produce peace…There are more effective and divine ways to resist aggression and achieve peace, but these better options are constantly crowded out by our cultural conditioning, which urges us to counterattack. Such distorted principles subtly infiltrate our lives and color how we respond to the world and other people…we expose pieces of us that believe violence can work and that physical, verbal, or emotional counterattacks will check aggression and construct a more balanced, harmonious, and peaceful world.

“But the linear model is a myth. Violence cannot create peace. It doesn’t work. It may, on occasion, delay a cycle of conflict. It may force a cease-fire, even a long one, but a cease-fire is not peace. Under a thin veneer of nonaction, during a temporary cessation of conflict, resentments continue to smolder, binding their time, looking for the next opportunity to reignite.