Yesterday, I woke up to about 2o-plus emails from angry readers over my latest piece for Aol News. If there’s one thing I noticed about Aol News readers, it’s that whenever I write about race a lot of people get upset.I think that anger stems from their frustration that I refuse to acknowledge “the truth” that racism is over and black racists like me will never succeed to launching a race war because Dr. Martin Luther The King made America a utopia once he publicly aired out his nighttime brainwave activity.
I never get surprised by the types of responses I get anywhere I’m published, but I have to admit this past week has reminded me of something I had long feared: No matter how hard I try to not be offensive people will catch feelings anyway.
To those of you skeptical of that declaration drop your cynicism (yes, even as you read a site called The Cynical Ones), I’m serious.
While I realize a lot of my opinions aren’t necessarily popular, I don’t play the role of contrarian for the sake of. Likewise, I don’t drum up controversy because I can. I find both aspects of writing (and living, for that matter) annoying. Plus, I’m a nice guy and shit and it’s not in my nature to piss people off.
Yet, I seem to keep doing so even in my mildest form.
For instance, in the Aol piece, I said the Tea Party wasn’t a racist organization but that the racial rhetoric employed by its outspoken members makes it easy to brand it as such. I called on leaders to get organized and expel their bigot faction in order to clear their name.
Somehow that was interpreted as me saying I hope Al Sharpton haunts every white man in his dreams.
I asked for people to read and not react and they reacted anyway. Why do I give people the benefit of the doubt again? More importantly, why did I even bother trying to be as pleasant as possible?
It doesn’t seem to work in pop culture pieces either.
If you don’t believe me, check out the comments section for my post on Gabourey Sidibe. I really didn’t think I was that out of pocket, but somehow I’m branded a fatphone, a hypocrite and big meanie.
I pointed out how each label in this instance was incorrect and it’s perceived as me “attacking” folks. I think I’m nice, but you know, this blog is called The Cynical Ones. If I chose to act like I’m the wicked bastard of the South, you get fair warning from the jump.
Now if someone called you a hypocrite on your own shit and said you wouldn’t talk about a skinny person in the same situation when you know for a fact that you’ve talked about everyone under the sun (including yourself), wouldn’t you respond?
For the record, this is my final answer about that post: If I wanted to say Gabby is too damn fat to be so mean then I would’ve said it that way.
To be frank, I think both pieces struck nerves in people. People harboring prejudices don’t like them brought to their attention and people like to laugh at situations so long as they don’t apply to them.
In my case, the reactions struck a chord in me as it reminded me that one, I’m defensive especially in situations where I know I’m right, and two, I really need to be more selective when deciding to PG-13 myself.
More times than not, there’s no real point in turning yourself down once you realize a comment like “You look tired” will still be misconstrued as “Bitch, you ain’t shit, hoe.”
I grew up in a very harsh environment so a lot of the time what I have to say comes across really brutal to people. Or vulgar. Some of my friends can attest to this as they require me to utter the phrase, “brace yourself,” before I dive into subject matter they may feel is too much.
Because of all this, I always felt the need to tamper it down out of generosity. But at this point in my life and career I’m asking myself more often than not, “Why?”