When you're silent as someone else is being bullied, you might as well join the bully's team.

I watched a PBS TV special on Netflix entitled "This Emotional Life." In part two they told the story of a teenaged boy who hung himself in his room because of the bullying he was experiencing at school.

The school administrators and his peers did nothing.

One comment that stood out to me was one from the boy’s mother on how the people around him, including teachers and other students in class, didn’t say anything about the fact that he was being blatantly bullied right in everyone’s face. Instead they stayed quiet, even if they disagreed with it. That silence over time made it so that this teenager’s experience with bullying became almost like the norm — folks just accepted it as if it were normal. Meanwhile the boy was dying a quiet death inside, eventually surrendering to the idea that this was life and this was just how it would be.

This story made me think of the black community. Silence on important matters in the black community, including bullying, is just as dangerous. When you have young women being constantly teased for having dark skin, entertainers gratuitously calling black women hos, and kids being bullied just because they're “different” people start to accept this behavior as the norm.

Sherri Shepherd Bullied On Twitter
Sherri Shepherd recently had an experience with Internet bullying, where her life was threatened by a few internet thugs on Twitter. These thugs and others like them have mostly gotten away with bullying others online by joining what they call “Twitter Teams.”

Though I might not like Ms. Shepherd in general for some of her opinions and actions, I fully support her decision to bite back at these online thugs. Once she took a stand, along with a number of other people who joined her in support, the bullies started to backtrack. The news is spreading like wildfire and it's only a matter of time before someone puts the bullies on full blast. Now their lives could be permanently altered due to one ignorant threatening comment made on Twitter. Unfortunately, they’ll have to learn the hard way.

But what about all of the young people out there who are being bullied every day but who don’t have money and rich friends to stand up for them?

Speak Up Man
When I was young I witnessed one of my friends being bullied by two large girls, and without thinking I came to her defense. I saved her from the situation, but soon learned that I was now also a target for getting beat up! We refused to fight the girls because I wasn’t raised to fight unless someone hits you first, but lo and behold, soon after that we all became friends.

Bullies are really just cowards. When they get a taste of their own medicine they cower in fear. They’re angry, feel unloved, don't have much parental guidance and think that by making others feel just as badly as they do it will make them feel better.

It is up to each one of us to stand up to these cowardly bullies, whether it’s online, in school, in the workplace or in society in general, and put them in their place. I'm not saying that people should attack the bullies, but at the very least support the victim!

Make it clear that this behavior and treatment is NOT the norm. Silence is complicity — when you keep your mouth shut and don’t show support to the bullied, fearful of what the bully might say to you, you might as well just join the bully’s “team.”



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