On opinions, writing, and pissing people off: 8 Things i learned from my 1st BET article

On Saturday my first opinion piece for BET went live into the world. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is: bet.us/2gRHYi5. It snowballed into something way bigger than i could have ever fathomed.
 
My wife told me not to read the comments or all my Twitter and Facebook notifications; i didn’t listen. Partly because i was curious to see what people were saying but mostly because i really believe that dissenting opinions, debates, and civil disagreements are what makes not only our country great, but also makes us more evolved as humans and thinkers. And i always want to evolve and grow as a thinker and writer because stagnation is death. And i cannot grow without being challenged or being challenging. And these past few days, i’ve been both.
 
i started this piece with the intention of it being a commentary on the backlash and hate, but instead, it wanted to be this:
 
A thought piece on what this experience has taught me in hopes of giving other creative radicals a little more courage and insight about what it means to speak your truth, loudly, and in very public spaces.
 
1. There are always going to be haters. We all know this, but you won’t realize its impact or how you’re going to respond to it until the hate is a full-blown waterfall. At first i let it get to me. i’m human; “i’m an artist and i’m sensitive about my shit.” But then i started to realize that 90% of the social media haters hide behind facades, fake or mock profiles, and never show their faces.  And history has proven it’s easy to spew hate with hoods on. What’s really hard is speaking your truth when the spotlights on you. And these people who hide will never know what it means to be free.
 
2. But there are also individuals who bring up valid and very thoughtful arguments that will stop you dead in your tracks and force you to think beyond the borders of your own perceptions.
 
Like this person:

 
(The last part of Jean-Luc Pierite’s post i was unable to get in the screenshot reads: “Hope my comments are helpful to you.” )
 
And they definitely were to me.
 
These are the moments i live for because these are the kinds of responses that help me, us, and the social-consciousness of the world grow. And to respond to Jean-Luc: No matter how hard i try to be all-inclusive with my language, research, and tone, i am bound to leave something or someone out. Because i’m not perfect and neither is my writing. The point is i’m aware and i acknowledge my human fault that i will never get it 100% right, but i am open and constantly and actively willing to try. And, yes Rosario Dawson and Susan Sarandon fought alongside DAPL protestors (well, Susan at a comfortable distance), but so did other celebrity figures, people, and activists who understood that a Trump victory would ensure death to us all — Native Peoples, Black, Brown, immigrants, Muslims, queers, animals, the environment, our planet.
 
For me, the whole of our survival as mainstream society’s ‘others’ far outweighed the one or two things these celebrities may (or may not) have gotten right. Again, only this queer, brown, female’s opinion.
 
Thank you, Jean-Luc, for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions. The world needs more people like you.
 
3. i’m always open to civil disagreements and dissenting opinions. What i will NEVER be down for are insults, bullying, name calling, and shaming. Words like: “stupid,” “bitch,” “cunt,” “doofus,” “faggot,” and the call to “eat a dick” have no business in social, political, and ideological disagreements. i am strong enough to take it, but there are others who aren’t. People die from bullying and i will never condone the right to hurl blanket insults at fellow human beings. Your words have power, direct them at something that’s worthy of the cause.
 
4. Opinion pieces are just that opinions. One person’s opinions. They are not a collective truth, but the truth of one individual only. If my truth resonates with you then so be it. We share a collective connection and i revel in those moments that i can build bridges within communities. But if my truth contradicts your own or looks nothing like yours, your inability to connect to it doesn’t make it any less true for me and the others that do. We can agree to disagree without resorting to blanket generalizations and juvenile name calling.
 
5. People who scream the loudest often have the least to say.
 
6. Some people will never understand that hate and anger are not one and the same. That one can be angry without being hateful. That one can be angry and still come from a place of love. That anger doesn’t equate to hate and love doesn’t always mean not getting a little pissed.
 
7. People will assume to know all about you based off of one piece of your body work. One piece of writing. Humanity, let alone the human brain, thoughts, and emotions are way too complex to be cataloged into a single definement.
 
8. What it all really boils down to is this: only you know the truth.
 
Only I and my editor know the intricacies, the background, the behind-the-scenes that went into that BET piece. But the truth of the matter is this: i was asked to write this piece because i have been critical of Susan Sarandon from the get go. Here’s the original piece that spawned this one. And because i’m not afraid to write from a place that scares people the most: the truth. Not someone else’s truth. Not a truth that someone told or instructed me to write, but a truth that i have developed and worked towards for the past 39 years — a truth that i will continue to refine and evolve for however long the universe sees fit.
 
And this truth, no matter how hard they scream or how volatile their words, is something no one, not even a collective of haters can take away from me, from you.
 
They would strip of us our rights to be opinionated and free by shaming our voices into submission. And i will not be a causality of that war.
 
xo-

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: