Terry Crews, aside from his stellar career in the NFL and as an actor on successful shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has adopted another, less expected role later in his life: one of the leading male voices of the #MeToo movement.
Last year, the 49-year-old came forward with his story of an alleged sexual assault at the hands of a “high-level Hollywood executive.” He was even included among the group of people named as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017 for bravely sharing his story.
And Crews has now spoken in front of the US Congress to make the case for legislation known as The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
A particularly powerful moment came when he was asked by Senator Dianne Feinstein why a strong man like him didn’t simply fight back against his alleged assailant.
“Senator, as a black man in America, you only have a few shots at success,” he said, becoming visibly emotional.
“You only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community. I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many, many young black men who were provoked into violence, and they were in prison, or they were killed. And they’re not here.”
“My wife for years prepared me,” he added. “She said, ‘If you ever get goaded, if you ever get prodded, if you ever have anyone try to push you into any kind of situation, don’t do it. Don’t be violent.’ She trained me. I’ll be honest with you. It was the strength of my wife who trained me and told me, ‘If this situation happens, let’s leave.’ And the training worked. Because I did not go into my first reaction. I grabbed her hand, and we left.”
Crews went on to discuss his own alleged assault and to talk about how our culture of ‘toxic masculinity’ damages vulnerable people in society.
“The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was effectively telling me while he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power. That he was in control.”
He added: “This is how toxic masculinity permeates culture. As I shared my story, I was told over and over that this was not abuse. This was just a joke. This was just horseplay. But I can say one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation. And I chose to tell my story and share my experience to stand in solidarity with millions of other survivors around the world.”
Crews concluded: “There’s this toxic masculine viewpoint of sleeping with as many women as you can, or people as you can, when the goal should be loving and caring for as many people as you can.”
We salute you, Terry Crews. And we hope the world can learn something from your example.