Norman, Oklahoma USA

The Mixon video in a throw away world

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mikesblog

After viewing the Joe Mixon video I find myself joining the chorus of those who believe he should never have played a down of Oklahoma football afterward; and question the decision made by OU officials to suspend him for only a year.

But, unlike some of those who have expressed the same opinions on social media, I don’t feel good about taking that position at all.

Here is why (and I’m sure many reading this aren’t going to like it):

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There is evidence the victim of this assault and battery provoked or instigated the incident by making racist remarks toward Mixon. She also slapped him first. Pointing that out, which is important to put the incident in context, doesn’t mean I condone his awful response, which was disproportionate and illegal violence, and doesn’t mean I’m blaming the victim. (I’ll rankle some feathers more and disagree with many of my women friends who want to bundle this up into the problem of domestic violence. It wasn’t. Neither knew each other.)

In today’s society we are quick to throw away people as if they are disposable wipes that are no good after being tainted with spit. And young black men seem to be the first cast aside….

Instead, this was an 18-year-old black male who had never even practiced with the Oklahoma football team or attended a class when he over-reacted violently to taunting by a white girl who decided to announce her perceived superiority over Mixon by using the N word toward him. I don’t know if that had ever happened to him growing up in liberal Bay Area California. It was certainly a sad introduction to the racist and redneck mentality of a large part of Oklahoma.

I’m wondering if those circumstances led Boren, Castiglione and Stoops to cut Mixon a break, instead of sending him packing to who knows what environment (unfortunately, the sports media who welcome stories about fumbles more than first downs haven’t told us much about Mixon’s home life).

I do know that in today’s society we are quick to throw away people as if they are disposable wipes that are no good after being tainted with spit. And young black men seem to be the first cast aside whenever trouble brews. A good example is the incarceration rate among black men (there are more black males in prison than attending colleges in the U.S.).

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It would have been easy for OU to dismiss Mixon from the football team. The cynics say they didn’t because Mixon was such a stud player and stud players are more valuable than respect for women (or as one Sports Illustrated pundit put it, “protecting the students”, as if Mixon was some black gorilla on a rampage to bludgeon our white women). But they’ve done so with shiny-star players before, and although some alums aren’t happy with OU’s failure to secure a national championship, the coach’s job is about as secure as crimson is red.

But, for some reason B, C & S chose to suspend Mixon from the team for a year. I’m not sure I would have the guts to keep him, knowing the video of the incident was likely to become public some day. But they did.

Dismissing Mixon would just sweep all this under the rug so that the rest of us would feel all good about how clean our living room is (or, rather, looks).

So, the question that isn’t being asked today, is why?

Why didn’t they throw Mixon away, like the rest of us would have wanted? It would have made us Okies feel warm and fuzzy about protecting our women from the dangerous black male. It would have made Stoops look pious and made OU the poster child for protesting violence against women.

But it also would have eliminated any opportunity to change behavior. Behavior that doesn’t respect other people (women and men), behavior toward violence to settle differences and behavior that stereotypes people who are different from us. After the incident Stoops had his football team undergo specific training against violence toward women, something brought home by having Mixon sitting through it right there alongside his teammates.

Dismissing Mixon would just sweep all this under the rug so that the rest of us would feel all good about how clean our living room is (or, rather, looks).

So, after watching the video my reaction was like many. Kick him off the team (and university). But as soon as I think that I have this view of myself painting a broad brush of self-righteous and sanctimonious hypocrisy. That we aren’t really addressing either the problem of racism or violence toward women — we’re just washing our hands of it.

And so I don’t feel good about it at all.

Mike 

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