People get mad at me often for the things I unapologetically write and have the courage to say publicly. Skinfolk get real swollen when I criticize anything Black that I feel deserves it. Why is it an expectation that we all have to think the same way on issues involving Black people and culture? Why is it that skinfolk can’t criticize something Black when it’s obviously wrong and detrimental to the greater good of our community? Just because we share a similar physical characteristic, it doesn’t preclude you from being called out or absolve you from accountability and responsibility. Why do we need to adhere to strict and rigid singular thinking and not be free to have thoughts and ideas that are unique and beneficial to us individually? Why do I have to ask so many why’s on this subject? Yeah, I’ve worn the Uncle Tom label many times from ‘do nothing’ Knee Grow culture hustlers simply because I called crazy-crazy and stupid-stupid when I’ve seen my skinfolk engaged in it. Pull up a chair and let me share a couple of examples with y’all good people.
I told y’all in a previous editorial that the day after we buried John Lewis, I took to one of my social media platforms and called out former President Bill Clinton for a disrespectful and unnecessary statement he made in that ‘aw shucks’ Arkansas tone he uses to try to be relatable to the Brotherman. To me, it was the height of arrogance and privilege for him to stand over a Black leader and criticize another Black leader simply because he didn’t fight injustice in a way that made him sleep better at night. The memory of Kwame Ture deserved better. John Lewis and those who were there to mourn him deserved better. And, all Black people who refuse to allow white people to pick and choose their heroes deserved better, and I let Bill have it in my written response. I’m sure some of the now grown Super Predators Hillary said back in 1996 that had “no conscience, no empathy” and who “we must first bring to heel” and are still suffering from the ‘Billary’ crime bill, were equally offended.
Also, in that speech, I shared my respect and admiration for my spiritual Brother and the only President I opt to use that term before his name, Barack Obama. But, I did call him out for his seeming to always place the onus on us to do better instead of being more vigorously critical of those who espouse hate and who have created the condition so many of us continue to suffer under. I’ve never understood why we, as victims of racial animus and violence, are the ones required to do all the work with reconciliation? Why do we shoulder the burden alone to do all the changing and compromising when those responsible for the brutality and indignities have no expectations or responsibility placed upon them to change? Well, that ruffled the frilly lace underpants of a few people that I’m not associated or familiar with, and I got an earful. The only thing I ask is if you come for me sideways, come with a legitimate, well thought out and intellectual dissenting response. When you direct highly emotional, scattered thoughts with no discernable rhyme or reason and engage in personal attacks, I place it in the file labeled “I really don’t give a good got-d**n.” The best way I can respond is from a meme I read recently, “I never argue with someone Harriet Tubman would’ve left behind.”
I wanted to share an edited sample I received from a brotherman who was a tad bit upset with me regarding what I wrote: “You were absolutely right when you said some folk would be offended by your comments and in disagreement with your assessment of what was said at Representative John Lewis’s funeral by both presidents Obama and Clinton. First of all, I was especially offended by your assessment of black folk who you said was so caught up in the moment because of the attendance of white folks. As if we black folk was so impressed because of their participation in this event. How dare you make that implication. I think that was the most egregious and condescending statement you could have made. Additionally, anything that you said that was factual was overshadowed by that comment. You and everyone else have the right to express their opinion, but your comments crossed over the line of decency and respect. Second of all, since you obviously have an ax to grind, and appear your statements are of an angry man, you would have been better served by picking another venue to critique than the funeral of a black American icon that most black folk revere. Who do you think you are and what gives you the right to criticize anything either said? They, Bush and Clinton was selected by the family to speak and President Obama the eulogy and not only were they truthful in what they said but dynamic and impressive. Frankly, I was proud of Obama. As a black American, I listened and was not offended. Perhaps you should have listened and not be influenced by your bias and dislike for them. As I stated, we all have a right to our opinion but the measure of one’s effectiveness is sometimes based on when we pick the right venue to critique. Often we do more harm than good and clearly expose ourselves. Of course, some folk have agendas and they really don’t care to whom they offend.”
This is the 2nd time in a month this guy has responded to something I’ve written on social media. The first time, I ignored him, but this time the force was greater than my will to withstand, so I responded, “Again sir, I appreciate your response. That’s what’s so wonderful about black culture-we can look at the same picture and have different interpretations and neither is anymore correct or important than anyone else’s. Since I pay this internet bill without your assistance, I will feel free to use all the bandwidth I have at my disposal to share my thoughts without concern for how others feel or think. You have every right and opportunity to keep scrolling by and not read my opinions. In doing so, you might’ve saved yourself some agitation. But as I said the last time you responded uninvited to something I wrote; I appreciate the passion in which you responded. Again, I’m happy my words caused you to think and feel an emotion. Just as I have given you the courtesy and respect to share your opinions, I will assume the same. Relax and be blessed my friend. It ain’t that serious.
During my time in office, the previous local NAACP President would go to white people in this City and say that I was an “Uncle Tom sellout Nigger” just because I didn’t share the same misguided and poorly thought out responses he did. There were a whole lot of Knee Grows who turned on me when one of the few Black owned businesses in this little slice of hell where my dog does his daily outdoor business engaged in some suspect professional practices. Although they only had a permit for 13 and under patrons in this indoor bounce house business, the owners were having adult parties attended by identified gang members and strippers. There were a few instances of gun violence and shooting victims outside of the establishment on several occasions as well. I shared and unedited video clip without commentary from me on my social media page from an afterhours party held there. For some reason, the Knee Grow Illuminati came after me, even attacking my family online because I called it out and later asked that their business license be temporarily suspended instead of permanently revoked as others wanted. The sad thing is, I was the only one on the Council who was actually trying to help them, but the KGI and other misguided skinfolk came after me with torches and pitchforks but said nothing to the other white members or spoke out against them for trying to shut them down. Later, when the bottom fell out and the true picture came to light after one of the co-owners got into other legal trouble, these Knee Grows then wanted to come straighten their face and apologize. I encouraged them to maintain that same level of agitation and discord they had with me at the outset.
I don’t make it a habit of responding because I strongly believe that a writer should never have to explain, clarify or apologize for what he’s written. It stands as it is, and however people interpret it, that’s on them. But if my character is denigrated and my integrity is called into question, yes I will respond and do so with unrestraint and no regard for feelings. I repeatedly pressed into my three sons’ consciousness as they were growing up to always stand behind your word and protect your name because if people lose respect for either, you have nothing.
Kenneth L. Hardin is a freelance writer who lives in North Carolina. He can be reached at email@example.com. Rights retained by author