Dr. Boyce: In Belcher Murder, We Cannot Forget About the Real Victims

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

My heart stopped beating for a few moments after hearing about the murder-suicide of 25-year old Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs.  For reasons yet to be determined, Belcher made the tragic decision to kill the mother of his child (22-year old Kassandra Perkins) and then himself.  All of this happened in front of the people he cared about, starting with his own mother, and eventually the coaching staff of the Kansas City Chiefs.

After Belcher took his life at the Chief’s facility, the world was left to sort out the aftermath of a tragedy that has befallen a city that is all too familiar with senseless death.  The streets of Kansas City run warm with blood every single day of the week, and much of that blood once ran through the body of an African American man, woman or child.

Belcher’s situation was even more heart-breaking for me because it reminded me far too much of my own life.  I remember being 25-years old, living with my then 22-year old girlfriend, with a young baby in the house.   Our love was deep, but we didn’t know how to express it without hurting one another.  I thought about the chaotic nights, the yelling, tears and agony and I am amazed that we were both able to make it out of that situation alive.  In that regard, I empathize with this young couple to the core of my very soul.

But there is another part of me that feels concerned that some of us may not remember who the true victims are in this situation.  Kassandra was the ultimate victim of domestic violence, since there aren’t many things you can do to a person that would be worse than killing them.   In too many cases, women who are harmed by rich and famous athletes are swept under the rug, as the rest of us are disappointed because our favorite team might not win the next game.  A perfect example was when the rapper Eazy-E and former NBA star Magic Johnson were both diagnosed with HIV.  In all the sadness about their situations, no one thought about the nameless faces of the hundreds of women who were infected along the way.

Belcher  is a victim, yes.  There may be some mental illness or brain injury that led him to make his unfortunate decision.  Former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson shot himself last year after dealing with the psychological ramifications of being hit in the head on a repeated basis.   Perhaps this played a role in Belcher’s actions.

Also, Belcher was young and might have had difficulty understanding the long-term implications of his actions.  Our hearts should go out to Belcher and his mother, who has now taken custody of the child.  I can’t imagine how this woman is going to tell her granddaughter about her father’s actions, for that conversation will be coming in about five years.  I just hope that she is able to tell the truth without the poor girl having to surprise herself with brutally honest  details on the Internet.

But to be truthful, I don’t feel sorry for Belcher, since every man in America has had his heart broken during a relationship.  In fact, if he wasn’t the victim of any form of mental illness, I’m highly disappointed in him.  Great football players are warriors and expected to be mentally tough, even during the most difficult of circumstances.  The decision of a man to commit such a heinous act and orphan his newborn child, quite honestly, wreaks of the type of selfishness I’ve seen in far too many relationships.  I had a colleague with a promising career in academia, whose husband did the same thing, leaving both of his children without either parent for the rest of their lives.  It’s hard to imagine any parent doing this to their child, no matter how bad things have become.

I wish Belcher had at least thought about his daughter before killing the child’s mother.   Whatever went on at the Trey Songz concert on that fateful night could not have been bad enough  for him to solve a temporary problem with such a damning and permanent solution. Even when facing the consequences of his actions, I wish Belcher could have saved the only parent his daughter had left.   At the very least, all of us should make sure that as we memorialize Jovan Belcher for his troubles, we also take a second to remember that the greatest victims in this tragedy were the two most important females in his household.

This incident was painful for everyone involved and a lesson for all of us.   Let’s not be afraid to learn these lessons, even if they lead to difficult discussions.  Domestic violence is serious and destructive, and we must educate ourselves on how to avoid outcomes that are similar to this.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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51 comments

  1. AMERICA HAS ALL OF YOU CAPITALISTS OVERLOOKING THE ATTROCITIES OF THE WHITE SATANIC WAR MONGERS AND THE SPREADING OF THEIR EVIL WAYS INTO YOUR LIVES. MOST OF YOU HAVE BEEN SILENT OR IN AGREEMENT WITH THE DEATHS OF INNOCENT CITIZENS ALL OVER THE WORLD AND EVEN IN AMERICA BY THESE SATANIC WHITE CRIMINALS. IF YOU CONTINUE TO KEEP SILENT OR STAY IN AGREEMENT WITH THEIR EVIL THEN YOUR CREATOR WILL CONTINUE TO SHOW YOU THE TRUTH THRU YOUR OUT EYE FOR A EYE TRAGEDIES LIKE THESE! MANY AMERICANS LIKE MYSELF HAVE BEEN AND ARE BEING VICTIMIZED AND OR MURDERED BY THESE EVIL BEING WITHOUT YOU SHUTTING DOWN AMERICA FOR THEIR INNOCENT LIVES BEING DESTROYED AND OR TAKEN AWAY. STOP THEIR MADNESS OR CONTINUE TO REAP WHAT YOU SEW OR ALLOW TO BE SEWN INTO YOUR WORLDS! DOUGLAS K. STEWARD IN WASHINGTON DC FOR TRTUH AN JUSTICE FOR ALL NOT JUST SOME! 2024877564

  2. my man also beat me after a tray songz show 3 years ago me and my sis was late coming home so he raped and beat me

  3. Ann Gardner-Jackson

    Domestic violence is a tramatic event that continues to plagued the African American community and many innocent victims continue to suffer and the hands of individuals who are psychologically unbalanced and violent. Many people think that victims of domestic violence are improverished, uneducated, minorities, female, unemployed and black. Domestic violence affects many affluent, educated, employed, people therefore the behavior is not limited to people who are on the lower economic scale. Professional athletes are often placed upon a pedestal and treated as God's therefore leading to inappropriate behavior and attitudes being accepted and minimized. I'm sure Mr. Belcher displayed behaviors and attitudes that were often unpleasant and misleading however he probably felt because of his athlectic status he could away with it. My condolences to both families and friends.

    • You are exactly right because there were several reports of this sort behavior at the University of Maine.

  4. Being a victim of domestic abuse is enough for anyone to know and hear the warning signs for there are many. We loud shouting voices are heard, call the police. We screaming is heard. call the police. Never attempt to get in the middle, just call the police. It is not being noisy, you might be saving some ones life!

  5. Please be mindful that the term "in love" needs not be thrown around like a cheap….volleyball! Socio/psychopaths have NOT a clue about the act of loving or being in love.

  6. It turns out that he was having an affair with another woman. That seems to have been the motivation behind the killing. Underneath that is selfishness — the idea that I want what I want NOW, and that the sun rises and sets in me. Too many athletes and entertainers have this syndrome, and when taken to the extreme, here is where it can lead. Mothers need to stop this by not training boys to feel that they are better than all of the girls in the house and that whatever they want comes first.

  7. On or around July 21, 2008, My children and my life was almost destroyed by my ex-husband my abuser and Child Protective Services of Harris County Houston, TX. This long running battle with domestic violence could have ended with the murder of 4 children, mother and the father taking his life. BUT I left this situation, (at the time 6 months pregnant with my only son, now 4). I went to congresswomen, and men, politicians, and black organizations that I will not name, who did nothing but build a HATE and MURDER PLOT FOR ME!!! THE ACTIVIST FOR MY CHILDREN AND OTHERS trapped in the Foster Care System. The bottle line is I tried to save my children and my life only to be separated by CPS and my 4 children are now with my abuser. WHO WILL HELP US WHILE WE CAN STILL SPEAK? KARIN SIMS LOWERY -MOTHER 917-808-9370. DR. BOYCE PLEASE HELP US!! I HAVE NOT SEEN MY CHILDREN SINCE JANUARY 2012.

  8. Overall, these are really stupid as comments! @Twonnell ??? Really) Hayes: you and your wife deserve each other .smdh

  9. WELL[MR.Mayso Wilburn ]DID YOU CK YOUR NEWS YET! WELL HERE IT IS FOR NOW. [DAMN MY PEOPLE.
    12-1-12
    The death of the African American in America, extremely violent and pity thieves.

    This is just the beginning, and that is the most unfortunate situation specially in African American communities. We have finally cause problems that the rest of the American community will not tolerate with. The African American community is on their own. The crime rate in all major cities is exclusively caused by African Americans. Statistics indicate that the average African American male or female under the age of 30 is either unemployed on welfare or in jail. We are killing each other stealing from each other wholesale. The white and Hispanic community is no longer willing to trust or positively interact with African Americans for any type of opportunity's that may be available. We as a people are no longer trusted and not able to bla…me anyone, but ourselves for our own irresponsible actions.
    We are not taken the opportunities that are readily available, instead these opportunities are being taken by immigrants willing to work to make a better life for themselves.

    ["DAMN": we have become losers in our own country.]

    A message to all [PARENTS]. Take a look at your gangster and thug Children. By Sunday morning one of your children will not come home again , Unfortunately he or she will be Amongst an unnecessary statistic of street death And street violence.

    Again parents are you listening ; help your children while there alive, because once their dead or incarcerated from street violence your tears will be in vain.

    • @Mr.Gittens People like you are the problem. I'll dare you paint a broad brush like your slave master. Quoting statics from what your slave master gives you. I come from a working class African American community and grew up in a conscious working class African American community that was filled to the brim with honorable hard working community activists and civil rights leaders. You need to understand that you disgrace your Ancestors and curse their graves when you make broad ignorant statements like these because of the self hating actions of a few! Peace

    • Did you read your news papers this morning ,or did you see your news on tv ;well unfortunately your [ancestors has nothing to do with our extremely violent African American communities of the 21st century. PS;DAMN anger"i think the shoe fits this story

    • Ra Khush Ahkem -it's referred to as "trolling" on all other comment forums. Don't allow it to move you to anger.

  10. FYI – this article was written to a tribute to all of those who've died from domestic violence. Not at all to disrespect the memory of this brother and his family. The situation was tragic and all too familiar. I am incredibly proud that Syracuse Alum Bob Costas made the courageous decision to speak to the gun control issue on Sunday Night football.

    • Thank you Dr. Boyce Watkins for this article.

    • More disturbing facts about this guy is surfacing from him being a bully as far back to elementary school to controlling relationships with women and abuse. It is rumored he was drinking and on pain killers at the time he murdered this young woman.

    • This type behavior can be stopped in the home if we stop teaching boys that they are better than girls, and that they are entitled to whatever they want NOW and everyone else should get out of their way. Just a simple thing like stopping them from dominating the bathroom in the morning is a beginner — or the temperature in the house — or the TV set, or the loud music — and on and on and on.

    • I like this comment M, Birchett. I love educated people.

  11. Me and my wife think Kassandra told him the baby was not his!

    • Stop being so damn negative. A baby does not have parents and all you can speculate on is bullshit. Pathetic.

    • Shirley Gallagher

      I agree with you, to me that the one thing that would make a man SNAP after he has been lied to or to say yes i have been cheating on you with Trey Songz or some one else.

    • WELL YOU ARE SAYING [IT WAS justifiable homicide With a touch of suicide ! Unbelievable

    • Kathy Henry , unfortunately the only recourse anyone has is speculation since both parties are deceased. The only other person in the house at the time other than the infant was Belcher's mother. She says that she heard only one statement before the shooting of Ms Perkins "You can't talk to me like that". I wonder what else did she hear. My guess is she probably is aware of the total argument(just speculating) but will not reveal details that will further incriminate or demonize her child. It is my opinion that this was a recipe for disaster. I have seen few instances where two women survived in one household, think of possible problems with your mother in law in your home at the age of 22. Just speculating!!!

    • You never know these days, but its obvious that he snapped.

    • @Dco Tru -yes…not to get too "spacey" here, but some Leo men (astrology), can become real violent crybabies and name callers. Their-way-or-the-highway sort of mentality…

    • Lol. How am I being negative??? My kids mother is alive…smmfh…I'm speculating on why he would have left his 3 month old daughter parentless. Belcher is the one with all the negativity…9 bullets worth

    • How could you have your baby's picture on here and joke about what this guy did to this child's mother. The justice system needs to stop allowing all of these excuses for example: "He just snapped". "The baby was not his", "He was under a lot of pressure" to be made for men to be entitled to these types of actions and get away with it. Black women have been good to black men and the thanks that always gets returned is disrespect.

    • @ Stephanie what are you talking about somebody called me negative for speculating why he did what he did…Can somebody make sense plz i don't condone what this dude did ever!!! He's a coward fo vreal

  12. First I would like to sent condolences to the families.. I agree with what Dr. Boyce said.

  13. Belcher a sucker he ain't no victim he a coward. Yale gon Give condolonces to his family and act Like He a victim Stop. It my Heart goes out too the childd and the mother AndThere family. Not the criminal belcher. Yale need to stop backing criminals just cause they Black its sickning

  14. The real victims are all dead. Yes, families will suffer but life goes on for them. Mike Ditka has forever spoken out about the downside of football player’s health. Has anyone been listening?????

  15. Amen, may your honestly save and change a life! Thanks for sharing

  16. 12-1-12
    The death of the African American in America, extremely violent and pity thieves.

    This is just the beginning, and that is the most unfortunate situation specially in African American communities. We have finally cause problems that the rest of the American community will not tolerate with. The African American community is on their own. The crime rate in all major cities is exclusively caused by African Americans. Statistics indicate that the average African American male or female under the age of 30 is either unemployed on welfare or in jail. We are killing each other stealing from each other wholesale. The white and Hispanic community is no longer willing to trust or positively interact with African Americans for any type of opportunity's that may be available. We as a people are no longer trusted and not able to bla…me anyone, but ourselves for our own irresponsible actions.
    We are not taken the opportunities that are readily available, instead these opportunities are being taken by immigrants willing to work to make a better life for themselves.

    ["DAMN": we have become losers in our own country.]

    A message to all [PARENTS]. Take a look at your gangster and thug Children. By Sunday morning one of your children will not come home again , Unfortunately he or she will be Amongst an unnecessary statistic of street death And street violence.

    Again parents are you listening ; help your children while there alive, because once their dead or incarcerated from street violence your tears will be in vain.

    • Amen to Dr. Boyce. Well said.

    • To state the Average African American (male or female)
      is either unemployed, on welfare or in jail is is a
      blatant, erroneous lie, and should not be stated as truth.

    • Mayso Wilburn WELL DID YOU CK YOUR NEWS YET!!WELL HERE IT IS FOR THE NOW. [DAMN MY PEOPLE
      12-1-12
      The death of the African American in America, extremely violent and pity thieves.

      This is just the beginning, and that is the most unfortunate situation specially in African American communities. We have finally cause problems that the rest of the American community will not tolerate with. The African American community is on their own. The crime rate in all major cities is exclusively caused by African Americans. Statistics indicate that the average African American male or female under the age of 30 is either unemployed on welfare or in jail. We are killing each other stealing from each other wholesale. The white and Hispanic community is no longer willing to trust or positively interact with African Americans for any type of opportunity's that may be available. We as a people are no longer trusted and not able to bla
      …me anyone, but ourselves for our own irresponsible actions.
      We are not taken the opportunities that are readily available, instead these opportunities are being taken by immigrants willing to work to make a better life for themselves.

      ["DAMN": we have become losers in our own country.]

      A message to all [PARENTS]. Take a look at your gangster and thug Children. By Sunday morning one of your children will not come home again , Unfortunately he or she will be Amongst an unnecessary statistic of street death And street violence.

      Again parents are you listening ; help your children while there alive, because once their dead or incarcerated from street violence your tears will be in vain.

    • What does your response have to do with this murder? It sounds as if you are blogging about another issue.

    • Did you read your news papers this morning ,or did you see your news on tv ;well unfortunately your [ancestors has nothing to do with our extremely violent African American communities of the 21st century. PS;DAMN anger"i think the shoe fits this story

    • Mayso Wilburn Did you read your news papers this morning ,or did you see your news on tv ;well unfortunately your [ancestors has nothing to do with our extremely violent African American communities of the 21st century. PS;DAMN anger"i think the shoe fits this story

    • This comment is so ignorant and self-hating. Yes there are a lot of problems in our community but you can't pin the blame all on the new generation.

      "Whites and hispanics are no longer willing to trust or positively interact with us."

      Tell me what history book you've been reading. When have we ever been truely seen as an accepted group of people? The history of this country has caused deep socioeconomic and psychological issues in our people and is still doing so to this day. Yes we are all responsible for our actions as individuals but don't downplay the power dynamics at play that have put us in this position.

      Even the negative stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media are not under our control and any positive views of black presented are always seen as exceptions instead of the rule.

      Honestly, I'm completely disgusted with your comment and it's a total abandonment of the people who are still fighting this system every day. You need to check yourself and the history of this system you're so quick to quote statistics from . . .

  17. My prayers to both families.

  18. Such a tragedy my prayers goes out deeply with the family.

  19. Thank you for posting this, my prayers go out to both families.

  20. Touching and wise response to a sad tragedy Doc. Thank you.

  21. Fay Howard- Alston

    A sad sad situation!!!! :'(

  22. So true. My condolences to the families.