Last night I went to sleep with Antoinette Huff on my mind. She’s the one that talked a gunman out of murdering a bunch of kids at a school in Georgia. That school just happens to be a few miles from my house. It is the school that my son attended. It’s been on my mind.
She is a hero. Even if she would rather give credit to Jesus Christ, God couldn’t have asked for a better messenger during those moments. She kept her cool and got a man who had plainly stated that he was ready to kill, and die, to lay down his weapons. She even helped him surrender to the police, saving his life in the process.
I went to sleep wishing that type of cool tenacity could be bottled up and distributed to police and school teachers and administrators nationwide. And then I woke up…
Above is a picture of Islan Nettles. She is a transgender woman. On Saturday, her and her friend, also transgender, were assaulted in Harlem. This jumped off after one of the guys realized that she had not been born female. They shouted slurs at her and beat her into a coma. She died this morning.
Thousands of miles away, on Thursday in Mumbai India, a photojournalist was gang raped by four men in an abandoned textile mill.
Enter Sampat Pal. She was married off at the age of twelve, and had her first of five children at 15. That’s how most stories end. She was supposed to march silently into the future. Get old. Die silently. But in 2006 she began a fellowship called the gulabi, after the pink saris that they wore – (gulabi is hindi for pink). In a country where two out of three women suffer from domestic abuse, Sampat Pal and her gang of 20,000 pay visits to abusive husbands. They can be very persuasive.
“When I go around with a stick, it’s to make men fear me.” She said in an interview with Slate magazine. “I don’t always use it, but it helps change the mind of men who think they are more powerful than me” Her group is spreading, too. She’s got a clique in France. How long before her crew starts strutting through the streets of NYC?
To be clear, violence against women is nothing new; not in India, and not here. But when you kick people long enough, and hard enough, sometimes they kick back. Something to think about if your manhood is so fragile that you have to beat a person to death in order to protect it. If common sense can’t stay your hand, and if the law can’t do it… then a gang of people who are tired of being fucked with can.
There are a lot of different kinds of heroes. Antoinette Huff was just what the kids at McNair elementary needed. But sometimes, folks just need to go pick up a really big stick.