Copyright©. All rights reserved. Published in the New York Times 2/16/92 The following writing may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any way including electronically, without the prior written consent of the author.
An Uneasy Look in the Mirror
by jane davis ©1992
i woke up Tuesday to a glaring headline: Mike Tyson Guilty of Rape. There was a picture of a big man with nothing in his eyes. i cried. Who is Mike Tyson? A hero? A criminal? A victim? How did our society play a role in this current turn of events?
What made us think that this survivor of the streets (with the rage that we knew about) was going to be a good example for young people? He was a child himself. What help did he have? His avenue of channeling his rage was to box and be the best. We put him on a pedestal, only to knock him off.
i am not by any means defending his behavior because we all must accept the consequences for what we do. But i felt sad for him, for the 18-year-old beauty queen, and for all of us.
i grew up in Kingston, N.Y., not far from Catskill, where Mike Tyson spent his teen-age years. Being from a town with one high school, i had-and still have- friends ranging from cheerleaders and class presidents to thieves and drug dealers. my first career was as a psychotherapist working primarily with hard-core juvenile delinquents as well as lifers in a state penitentiary. One of my assignments was with the Scared Straight program in Rahway State Prison in New Jersey.
During the 11 years i lived in Manhattan, i worked as a therapist for a private child welfare agency. Jimmy Jacobs, who with Cus D'Amato was like a father to Mike, was my neighbor in the city. When Jacobs was alive, Mike was always hanging around the building where i lived. i knew him before he was famous. The sight of him with my kitten on his shoulder and my dog in his lap is one that i often remembered as i watched his violent rage attack whoever was with him in the ring.
There was something so naive, so childlike, so innocent about him. When Jacobs who was one of the stablest people in his life , died, Mike began to change. i was aware of these changes as one of the public and not a sometimes neighbor. But he seemed caught in this web of money, glamour, power and fame. Not everyone can handle that. Obviously, he couldn't.
It's a shame that those around him participated in this power trip rather than helping that lost little boy inside.
Isn't it about time we all started opening our eyes to those around us and really see what's going on! In my opinion, Mike Tyson represents a lot more than a hero gone bad. Mike represents a mirror we have a hard time looking into.