Billy & Hells for TIME
After several women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct last October, it opened the door for victims of assault and harassment to feel more comfortable sharing their own stories. One addition to the deluge of troubling allegations was Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews.
During a series of tweets, Crews said he was groped by a powerful Hollywood executive, who he later identified as Adam Venit, in 2016. After detailing the troubling account, Crews was praised by many who commended the former pro football player for speaking out. However, not everyone was supportive. Some balked at the idea a man like Crews–strong, powerful, physically imposing–could even be a victim in the first place.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the actor explained that anyone, including Black men who look like him, can be exploited, although most aren’t usually allowed to express their traumas because they don’t look like the stereotypical victim.
“The big thing I’ve encountered is that people expect a guy like me to always be tough,” he said. “But, the thing is, as a Black man, the only time you’re really recognized as being victimized is when you’re dead. Otherwise, you don’t get hurt, you don’t get tired … it’s like people think you’re supposed to jump through the air and dunk from one place to the next.”
Crews said he came forward to tell his story because he doesn’t want anyone else to be sexually assaulted or harassed.
“I’m just telling my truth. I’m saying what happened to me. I’m not speaking for anyone else. I’m just saying that this is ridiculous, and this is not acceptable. No one ― no man, no woman, no child ― should ever put up with being treated less than human. Ever,” he explained.
The athlete turned actor also discussed the backlash against R. Kelly and the fact that some Black men who believe in freedom and justice for Black folks are mistreating Black women, too.
“There are Black men at the Black Lives Matter rally that are looking at a woman and saying, ‘Bitch, sit down.’ And it’s like, wait a minute, this is about equality. But they don’t see women as equal within their own community,” he explained. “So, the R. Kelly thing was like, ‘Hey man, he’s just being a man. He’s doing what you do as a guy, if you can get over on ’em do it.’”
Crews continued, “It’s so crazy to me because, again, men need to be deprogrammed. It’s like this cognitive dissonance that occurs. Women have been saying this forever. Unfortunately, what we need is a man to say stop this. Men have to call out other guys on these issues.”
Crews also had a message for men who are worried about navigating relationships in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
“We need men to concede. We need men to say, ‘You know what? We’re wrong, we goofed that up,’” Crews said. “I tell people I think it’s gonna be messy. This is not gonna be a neat, clean transition.”
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