Why It's Time to Stand Up to Your Bullies TODAY

Why It's Time to Stand Up to Your Bullies TODAY
Strength is not necessarily found in physical ability. It's found in the heart. (Uncredited photo)

"Why It's Time to Stand Up to Your Bullies TODAY" is part of the special weekly blog series is entitled: “The Point of  it All”. Every morning Exavier Pope broadcasts a series of inspiring messages on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This blog series explores the deeper inspirations channeled by these messages. Please allow each post to uplift, inspire, and bless you. Thanks for reading.

Punches flew from every conceivable direction at me.

My vision blurred; mainly, from a combination of the constellation of stars seen from being hit in the head; and, quickly shifting my position to ascertain the perpetrator of blows to deliver a counterpunch of my own.

The mixture of yelling, screaming, chanting, clothes rustling, and the roar of approaching “L” trains merged in my ears to form an orchestra of chaos.

Staggering to my feet, I managed to land a vicious right cross to a faceless figure while subsequently delivering a left hook to another faceless opponent who stood in the way of a now waiting CTA train.

Retreat no longer.

As the doors closed, a lunging hand ripped the collar of my brand new Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket, exposing the white stuffing underneath.

I turned around to a crowded train full of shocked commuters and excited teenagers rushing in with their version of the sordid Halloween eve brawl.

I wondered at that exact moment what mask did this audience I turned to viewed me as having on.

The place where I took a stand. (Photo/CTA)

How Did I Get Here?

I was raised by an old fashioned and faithful church going little old lady from Georgia in her foster home. “Mama” never uttered a curse word and read an unabridged Bible which seemed to be the largest book ever written.

Mama took care of countless families, including preparing large Sunday meals which seemingly could feed an army. From candied yams, collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, dressing with gravy, homemade mashed potatoes, glazed ham, roast beef, Cornish hens, blackberry pie, cherry pie, peach cobbler, AND sweet potato pie, it was a feast to behold. Smells seemingly danced from the house to the noses of visitors far and wide who came to commune and enjoy supper.

Mama loved everyone and kept a big bright dentured smile on the face of her 4’11" tiny frame.

Mama had a gun too, and was not afraid of using it.

When my older brother turned 11 years old, he decided it would be neat to play with older boys who caused trouble. One day some enemies of those boys decided it would be a good idea to come to our house and harass our family.

Mama sat on the front porch watering the lawn and kindly asked the young men to move along when they approached.

The young men proceeded to curse Mama and remind her of her small size and age.

Swiftly and calmly Mama went into the house.

Within seconds she came back with a revolver aimed right at the boys. The boys scattered like roaches in a dark room do when a light is turned on.

We never saw the boys again.

No matter why someone chooses to bully you - none of it is your fault.

Although Mama taught me to love people of all backgrounds and have charity, she also taught me to stand up for what I believed to be right.

Unfortunately as an adolescent this lead me to some compromising situations, including stopping fights or speaking up when the odds were against me.

One day included a very cold October 30, 1992, two plus years after Mama’s death on the Adams-Wabash CTA train platform.

Most south side students who attended West Loop’s Whitney M. Young High School commuted on the former Lake-Dan Ryan train, which connected the West Side to the South Side through the Loop.

Often times there were incidents where Whitney Young students became targets of harassment either at school by hoodlums from neighboring communities or on the way home.

This particular day after school, students were strewn about the train stop, some sitting on their book bags, some leaning on poles, and others sitting on benches while all awaited the next train. I stood leaning on the very sign stating “Adams-Wabash”, intermittently overlooking the view below from the perch of the elevated train stop, looking down the tracks to check for an approaching train, or engaging in random conversations with fellow students.

The expression of the students became those of silent fear as a gang of young men came up from the stairs below and began to openly taunt the students of the school.

When I was faced with a tough choice – a black eye versus NOT standing up against bullies, I chose the black eye.

From “nerds”, to “wimps”, to other unmentionables, we were called it all. At times the boys walked near students, girls included, and feigned punches. Wicked laughter at their perceived vanquished opponents soon began to gnaw at me like a loose tag in back of a shirt.

At the time I was a sophomore, 6’1” and 130 pounds soaking wet. Annoyed yet cautious, I looked at the older, bigger junior and senior boys to determine would they say or do anything to defend the dignity and honor of the student body. No one did a thing as their taunts and feigned swings became increasingly close to full assaults.

It was that moment I decided something must be done.

There is a time when enough is enough.

From Standing Ground to Solid Ground
“Nobody tryin’ to hear that! Get out of here with that!” I stepped forward and loudly proclaimed in my best South Side Chicago influenced vernacular.

Almost instantly the crowd of young men, older and bigger than I was, approached me with collective venom in their eyes.

I was surrounded with my back to the station’s railings, a potential fall awaiting 2 stories below.

The apparent leader of the group stood before me with a black skull cap on displaying the logo of the Chicago Bulls on its folded front.

He motioned to a smaller boy, possibly the youngest of the group, brought him before me, and egged him on to hit me. The leader also gave me instructions to stand still and be used as a human punching bag for said egged-on blows.

Apparently I was not good in obeying orders.

Blocks of the smaller boy’s punch resulted in me returning one of my own, flooring the young man and sent him tumbling out of view.
Instantly Mr. Bulls cap fired a direct strike to my face and all hell broke loose.

Although my vision was partially obscured, I did notice no one came to help me other than someone who is still my good friend today.

As tensions settled down on the train, older boys made remarks it was not wise to fight the other boys, hiding their obvious fear with wisdom. Others, who I soon defriended, insincerely explained the difficulty of positioning themselves to get involved. Still, other girls applauded my behavior and flirted with me.

I never changed my after-school route until the CTA itself one year later would change the Lake-Dan Ryan train to the Howard-Dan Ryan Red Line train a year later.

I never saw the gang again.

The Point of It All
As a child growing up under the roof of a righteous woman who taught me to stand up for what I thought was right, I had the expectation of correcting ills where I saw it ingrained in me at an early age.

When I was faced with a tough choice – a black eye versus NOT standing up against bullies, I chose the black eye.

My scars were minimal and healed in days. The dignity I gained from that moment lasted a lifetime.

I am the same man who now goes into trouble schools, talks to, and mentors young men.

I am the same man who now speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves.

People bully others for a variety of reasons – class rank, disability, race, sexual orientation, weight,  looks, or still some other predetermined cause.

No matter why someone chooses to bully you - none of it is your fault.

You might be a teenager faced with bullying and you might retreat to a world of solitude and depression.

Retreat no longer.

Your life, dignity, self-esteem, and self-respect depend on it. The lives of others who might be similarly just as afraid as you depend on you too.

Put your shoulders back, stand tall, and stand up to your bullies.

It may not necessarily have to be physical, or even directly confrontational. Some situations may require just avoiding people online and not letting what they say get to you.

You can do it.

You can silence your bullies.

Stand up and declare to bullies to “get outta here with that!”

When you do, your bullies may scatter to never return again.

Exavier B. Pope, Esq. is an entertainment and sports attorney, media personality, syndicated writer, Fortune 500 speaker and peak performance strategist, author, philanthropist, and sports business and law blogger for ChicagoNow. All opinions expressed are those solely of Mr. Pope.

(c) 2012, Exavier Pope

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Article Note: I advocate speaking up in the face of bullying. Whether it's at school, on the job, or in your family, it's not your fault and it's NOT okay. I don't advocate violence to combat a bully. I advocate speaking up. Whether it's directly to your bully, to faculty, or someone, please SPEAK UP!

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