A viral TikTok about a dad beating up another dad over his child’s bullying raises questions about the appropriateness of violence

OPINION: We often say, "Violence is never the answer," but a viral TikTok seems to suggest that this sentiment is not always true.

(Screenshot via TikTok)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

A very interesting TikTok came across my feed recently. It’d been viewed by over 11 million people when I got to it. (At last check it’s over 20 million.) In the video, you see a large, muscular, heavily tatted Black man wearing a necklace signifying that he may be a Mason. He’s sitting in his car wearing a wifebeater T-shirt. He says, “To the 7-year-old girl who had to watch me and my brothers jump her daddy after school, I’m sorry. I know that was probably a traumatizing experience for you.” 

At that point, I thought it was a joke. TikTokers love misdirection — they start with mock seriousness and then make a turn into comedy. This was not one of those times. 

The man continued: “We kept asking you to stop bullying my daughter and you wouldn’t listen.”

The man, who goes by Kavi, said he had spoken to her and her family several times about the bullying. They had sent letters and even had a meeting with her and her family. But the bullying continued.

Kavi said, “Actions have consequences, and since you too young to receive those consequences, you had to watch yo daddy take those consequences.”

He concluded, “Get some therapy. You’ll be alright.”

The video ended.  

At that point, I felt certain that it wasn’t a joke. I don’t know if this is a real story or not — maybe it was fictional, but it wasn’t meant to be funny. But whether or not it’s fiction, there’s still an interesting issue to mull over about the appropriateness of violence.  

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I showed my wife the video. She said violence is never the answer. I had to disagree. Saying “violence is never the answer” is too absolute. Violence is not the right answer in the vast majority of cases, but sometimes, after other avenues have been exhausted, what can you do? Physical force should be avoided 99.9% of the time, but sometimes the only thing that keeps people in line is a fear that someone will turn violent. 

I mean, if you take one look at this large, muscled man, you will know that he could hurt you. His TikTok handle is @selfrighteous_ so you know he thinks highly of himself. He seems to be a Mason, so he’s physically powerful and politically connected within his community. If he asks you something repeatedly — something involving the health and safety of his daughter — and you don’t comply, you should know that eventually, he’s going to hurt you. 

I mean, what would you not do to protect your children? I have no idea what his daughter was dealing with at school, but if my child came home many times and said she was upset about being bullied by someone at school I would do everything I could to help her. Everything. No option would be off the table. If Kavi had multiple communications with her family and the bullying did not stop then what else is this father to do? He has used his words several times. That did not work. What other options are left? The fear of violence should have prevented him from having to be violent, but if it doesn’t then you have left him no choice.

The fear of violence is supposed to be a valuable motivator. I had a bizarre incident the other day in Whole Foods that I talked about on TikTok where a white man who was much smaller than me would not leave me alone. I told him many, many times to stop talking to me. He wouldn’t. Whole Foods has security guards all over the place. They’re easier to find than the actual workers. I finally called one of them over to solve my problem but one of my takeaways from the encounter was: Why aren’t you scared of me? I’m no thug, and I haven’t been in a fight since 2018 when [redacted] told me to [redacted] and I grabbed him by the neck and shoved him up against a wall, but I digress. The point is this: Currently, I can bench press 150 pounds. I’m not small. When I finished this ridiculous Whole Foods conflagration, I kept saying to myself, why was this man not scared that I would hurt him? 

I’m sure Kavi had that thought at some point before he jumped that father. Like, I’ve told you several times to make your daughter stop bullying my daughter. You can see that I’m huge. Why aren’t you scared of me? Why aren’t you thinking, hey, if I don’t do what this man is asking of me, eventually he’s going to hurt me? Because if you don’t have that thought in your mind, then your behavior won’t be right, and I will have to actually become violent. The fear of violence is absolutely an undercurrent of men’s interactions with other men. I’m not saying violence is OK, but the threat of violence is unquestionably a factor that usually motivates men to do the right thing. Or at least to avoid angering certain other men.

I mean, look, when Kavi asked nicely, he did not get the desired result. After he put hands on that man, I bet he got the desired result. So how can we say violence is never the answer when clearly, sometimes, it is?

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at TheGrio.com/starstories. He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.