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Janay Rice has been called everything but a child of God

By Raynard Jackson/NNPA Columnist
On December 27, 2014
Janay Rice

Janay Rice has backed her husband, former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice,
since the domestic violence scandal.
Credit: ESPN

Feminists claim that women should take more control of their lives, arguing that they are capable of making their own decisions without a man’s guidance. However, these feminists are curiously absent when it comes to defending Janay Rice’s very personal and difficult decision to fight for her marriage.

You know Janay – or you think you do. She’s the wife of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Raven’s football running back. He was fired from the Ravens after the infamous video of him knocking out Janay in an Atlantic City elevator surfaced. The video, which was repeatedly aired on television and the internet, shows Rice dragging her limp, unconscious body out of the elevator.

At the time, she was his fiancée. They got married a couple of weeks later. Since the airing of the embarrassing video, people – both men and women – have called Janay everything but a child of God. She has been pilloried for purportedly “not knowing she was abused” and setting a “bad example” for other victims of domestic violence.

What was her offense?

Apparently it was making the decision – on her own – to work through the terror and shame of being knocked unconscious by her now husband in order to keep their marriage intact. Yep, what a “horrible” person she is. 

The nerve of her taking her marriage vows literally and seriously: “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

It would have been so easy for Janay to walk away from it all. But she didn’t. She decided that after investing so much in her relationship with Ray Rice, and for the sake of their young daughter, Rayven, she would stay and work through their issues.

In an interview on the “Today Show,” Janay said, “Everybody makes mistakes … After this whole situation, you would think that we lived in a country full of people who never made a mistake.”

You would have thought that Janay would be heralded as a woman to be emulated but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, she has been called “crazy,” “a victim,” “delusional,” and “in denial.”

There was a time when women were praised for working through the problems everyone faces during the course of a marriage. Women used to be ashamed at the prospect of a divorce. As hard as it is for the public to understand, many of these women never bailed out because they still loved their husband, flaws and all.

There is the shining example of Earlitha “Cookie” Johnson, the wife of NBA great, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  She committed to working through Magic’s womanizing and contracting HIV in order to keep their marriage and family intact. And let’s not forget Hilary Clinton, who had to undergo the embarrassment of sordid details of President Clinton’s affair with a White House intern.

Janay should be looked at in the same light as other courageous women who decided that they, in the words of an old cigarette commercial, would rather fight than switch. But she is not viewed that way. If Ray Rice were a Wall Street investment banker, and all other facts were the same, would people view Janay any differently?  Just asking.

Despite constant talk to the contrary, divorce rates have been falling over the past 30 years. According to a study by University of Michigan economist, Justin Wolfers, only one-third of marriages end up in divorce, not the much touted 50 percent.

Historically, Black women have been fiercely loyal to their men and have been the backbone of the Black family. Their loyalty was celebrated. So why is Janay not being celebrated by Black women? Where are the wives of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus? Why is Janay not receiving an image award from the NAACP? Why has the preeminent Black women’s group, the National Council of Negro Women, suddenly come down with a case of laryngitis?

All troubled couples need and deserve support. That’s what we should extend to Janay rather than scorn.

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