Just going through my luggage, clearing out some things to make way for enlightenment
Tuesday, April 04, 2006What Flavor Haterade is That?
I'm depressed this week.
I've been besieged with a stress-related ailment, which I don't feel like going into, but I will say that it's causing extreme discomfort in my life. Regardless of my discomforts I have been privy to some personal revelations. The first of which is to stop hating people for their personal views.
Last week BET aired programming aimed at the "down low" phenomenon. They are a day late and a dollar short to use the title of a book written by their celebrity victim, Terry McMillan. I missed the show, but was able to catch some of the footage of McMillan's appearance on Oprah. It was absolutely annoying to see Oprah and McMillan gang up on McMillan's former husband. Terry is bitter and feels deceived because her husband admitted he was gay. McMillan feels deceived for a number of reasons, but she has failed to take responsibility for her part. She married this "boy" when he was 19 or something ridiculous like that. She was in her 40s. She should have realized that the "boy" was still growing up. She should have been prepared for anything! But that's not the reason for this post.
J. L King was the another commentator on the BET program. King was another guest on Oprah after publishing On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep with Men. I did happen to catch that Oprah show and was immediately appalled at King and what I viewed as his attempt to cash in on the statistics about the rise of HIV infection in straight women. I later found research that showed married men sleeping with other men are not spreading HIV, exclusively. It seems that they are so completely paranoid about being exposed that they go to great lengths to protect themselves from infection.
I felt that King's sole purpose was to create a panic among black women by demonizing men, not to empower women to take responsibility for their choices or actions. As a result I began to publicly condemn King as a person. Keith Boykin's Beyond the Down Low did very little to improve my opinion of King. He was a bottom-feeder and I absolutely despised him. I even went so far as to discourage a group from contracting him to appear. I denied him work. I still don't feel bad about that, but I'm not pleased with myself for doing it based solely on personal dislike. I mean how can I personally dislike someone I don't know?
Last week a friend in Atlanta asked had I read King's new magazine. In so many colorful words I assured him that I had not and had no intention. He said the magazine was very good and basically called me a hater. I had to think about that thing. Then last week some nastiness broke out in blogland because one blogger said something offensive and caught a foot to the throat from another blogger. The offensive statement was from someone that I know and like as a person and I felt compelled to defend his right to feel as he does, no matter how much we might disagree. I encouraged the enraged blogger to open a dialogue and discuss the situation, realizing that opinions can change through discourse. The trouble is we [black folks] don't practice critical discourse. The minute someone hits a good nerve, we want to cut them. We have not learned to argue and end our discussions over dessert and coffee. What happens is we just sort of end all chances of enlightenment by shutting a person down. Example: "J.L. King ain't sh*t and I don't want to hear anything he has to say..." That is some nasty haterade.
I feel compelled to issue a public apology to Mr. King. I had no right to condemn him for his views. I have every right to challenge what he has to say, but I must not attempt to shut him down. Even though I disagreed with his book someone got something out of it. It may not be what I think they should have gotten, but that's my opinion. Everyone has a right to their feelings. We just have to remember to ask why they feel that way instead of immediately damning them to hell. I know what it's like to be on the receiving end. My criticisms of Beyonce have earned me some nasty insults from people, but I can truly say that am not bitter about her success. I actually like her personality. She seems sweet despite her limited vocal range and lack of polish. I also realize that it's more a reflection of the time, not her.
What flavor Haterade is that?