Quick Thoughts On D. Wade, G. Union, and Internet Trolls

This has been going through my mind for a little while and the most recent incident caused me to decide to address it here.

As we know, DeWayne Wade has a son who is a part of the LGBT community. Both Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, have been vocally supportive of their son on his identity journey.

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I think this is good. I repeat, I think this is good. I felt the need to repeat and embolden that part because what I’m about to talk about may sound like I feel the opposite and I know how some of y’all can be when you don’t read exactly what you wanted to read.

There has been more than one instance where after posting family pictures, adult meanies on social media have made untoward comments about Wade and his son. These comments usually come out of the mouths of homophobic people who feel Wade should bring his son into subjection in terms of his expression of his identity. In other words, they don’t like that his son is allowed to wear fake nails, or crop tops, or whatever else these internet commentators deem feminine wares.

Usually, Wade or Union will “clap back.” They will address the meanies and talk about how they love their child and support him and it’s their business and choice to do so. They get a lot of media attention for being good parents. People pine over the way they support their son.

The question I have is, when is the clapback only adding to the insult or injury of the initial mean comments?

Let me explain. When you “clap back,” you are dignifying the comment that you’re clapping back to. You may not realize it, but when you address anything, positive, negative, or in between, you are acknowledging that even if the comment wasn’t nice or educated, it was a valid expression.

In other words, instead of letting it die at the end of the sentence, you give it a life.

At some point, I wonder if Wade and Union’s clapbacks and the subsequent praise from the media about their clapbacks is merely causing their son to relive the bigoted comments directed towards him.

For example, if I have a child and my child comes home crying and tells me that Johnny called her ugly, and I comfort the child and reaffirm her beauty, that’s good. But, if when my (imaginary) husband comes home, I tell him while we’re all eating dinner, “Johnny called her ugly today,” and then, when her grandma calls later, I get on the phone and say, “A little boy called her ugly today…” while my child is sitting next to me watching television, am I allowing my child the opportunity to sit in and absorb the reaffirmation that I gave her when I keep replaying the insult to everybody who will listen?

Now, pretend I was a celebrity with millions of followers who not only is going to clap back, but have my clapback shared by millions of followers and mass media and even end up doing an interview or two about the situation. Despite the fact that I’ve reaffirmed my child, Johnny and his ugly comment is given a life as it plays non-stop on the social media news cycle and my reaffirmed child has to keep hearing and seeing it until social media gets bored and moves on to the next piece of nonsense.

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This is my peripheral concern with Wade’s son and his parents’ need to address the ugliness that comes out on the internet. Raising children can be tricky because on the one hand, you want to be tender with them as they deserve and give them a worry-free childhood. On the other hand, you have to prepare them. You have to prepare them for the fact that some people won’t like them for no reason at all. You have to prepare them for the fact that some people will think they’re too tall, or too short, or too fat, or too thin, etc. Unfortunately, if you’re a part of a marginalized group, that goes double.

You have to teach them that the people who just want to pull them down are ultimately the people they need to avoid. In the social media era, that also means that those  commenters are the people you don’t need to spend your time clapping back at every time you decide to post a picture and they decide to be hateful.

The truth is, your clapback won’t make them abandon their bigotry, (and sickeningly enough, may gain them more popularity). And it’s likely that some of these people, no matter how much you clap back, will only make sure they show up in the comments of your next picture with similarly foul sentiments.

Am I saying they should stop posting family pictures? Absolutely not. They have the right to celebrate their family like anybody else does. I do think it’s time to stop taking the bait of randos on Instagram and Twitter with enough time on their hands to express their displeasure about a crop top.

Personally, I hope the Thanksgiving picture controversy is the last time Wade or Union feel the need to engage bigoted trolls. I think it will set a good example, not just for their own children but for the rest of us as well.

Grow The F*ck Up: It Doesn’t Get Any Easier

The last few weeks have been a doozy. First, someone in Kim Burrell’s congregation taped a snippet of a sermon of hers where she talked about homosexuality being a sin and repercussions for homosexuals. She had appearances on television, ceremonies and a radio show canceled after the outrage machine kicked into high gear.

Not much longer after that, Vivica Fox gave an interview in which she noted that her new show that revolves around male strippers (haven’t seen it) was not created with the gay community in mind and that her dancers don’t dance for gay men (or something like that). As a result, her business partner disavowed her. Similar to the Kim Burrell situation, the outrage machine, in its last mile of the outrage marathon, caught its 2nd wind and churned full speed ahead once more.

Betwixt and between those two events, my timeline (and inbox) was graced with posts that were a blast from the past for me. They took me on a journey from 1st grade through 7th grade and back again.

You may think I’m going to spend this blog talking about homosexuality/homophobia, the church or both. I’m not. You may think that I’m going to spend this blog analyzing the merit (or lack thereof) of each screenshot. Not really.

I could make several arguments, but I don’t think I need to. Anybody old enough to develop commentary on what a religious person said to their congregation already knows that before they withdrew support from Kim Burrell, she likely already believed exactly what she said. Those of us who managed to make it out of middle school alive knows that everybody isn’t invited to the party and every product or service sold has a target market and thus shouldn’t be surprised when a person says they created their business for a certain demographic (why you’ll likely never see a white person using Sta-Sof-Fro).

But, I’m not going to go there (maybe I just did). This blog is about our uncanny knack for being outraged first and thinking last. This blog is about the way we think our problems are a statement on everybody else but us so that we can maintain some kind of moral high ground that we don’t actually deserve.

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The first screenshot is the by-product of a previous discussion about bisexual men who are not honest about it, also known as “being on the DL” (down low). The person who posted this is not a FB friend of mine but is friends with several of my friends. As shown, this person asserts that being on the DL is a result of homophobia.

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When I read this, it didn’t make me think about homophobia or the fear that people who are on the DL might face in their everyday life. All I could think about was how immature of a stance it is. To think that an adult would excuse lying and (usually) wasting the time of someone they claim to have enough affection for to enter into a relationship with is unnerving. Being honest is the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter if the truth isn’t something you’re particularly thrilled to tell, you tell it because it’s right. If conditions have to be perfect for you to be honest with someone you claim to love (and in some cases, have married and made children with), you lack integrity. Point blank.

With that said, there are a couple of adult questions for people who find themselves in this dilemma. First, would you rather be known for being bisexual or being a liar who wastes people’s time and mentally, emotionally and/or physically puts them in harm’s way? Secondly, why would you expect anybody to embrace “you” when “you” won’t be forthcoming about who “you” are?

The next two screenshots are self-explanatory.

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Apparently, if someone prefers not to date you because of your sexual past (or present), they are –phobic. I really don’t know where to begin here so I’ll just cut to the chase. Nobody has to like you. People are allowed to find you unattractive for any number of reasons. Calling them a “–phobe” or an “–ist” is not going to make them suddenly like you. Your options are 1) start lying about your life like in the first screenshot and thus become a shitty person by default or 2) accept that you aren’t their type for whatever reason and move the hell on with your life. For those who are unsure, the second choice would be the adult choice.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth screenshots highlight a common occurrence these days.

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I’m going to skip over the fact that the person never answered the question of who should pay for the “nice things” and then later says the “nice things” come from the dollar store. I’m not going to touch the fallacious thinking that just because someone works they should be able to afford what their heart desires. I’m not going to address the fact that there’s a clear misunderstanding of what capitalism is.

What I am going to address is this trend where someone posts a mini-monologue about something that pisses them off (that probably shouldn’t) and when someone deigns to respond, the poster decides to steer the conversation away from any fecund discourse in order to restart their mini-monologue. If you thought of yourself as enough of an authority to opine, you should think yourself big enough to either respond to feedback on your opinion – even if it’s that you have no idea or were not clear in your initial assessment. Dancing around like Floyd Mayweather when someone dares to pick up and inspect what you put down is jejune. If words suddenly fail you, just take a page out of NeNe Leakes’ book:

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The seventh screenshot is more hilarious than anything but had me SMDH anyhow. I sat and read it twice and said, “did this person just try to turn couponing into a social ill?”

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I think the funniest part of this diatribe is that this person first seems to temporarily absolve middle and upper-class people of classism by saying their energy is worth something and then tells them they are indeed poverty-shaming by participating in clipping coupons and “life hacks.”

The thing is, everything isn’t a ploy from the elite to start the class war that will annihilate us all. If you don’t have time to coupon, the answer is simple: don’t do it. I tried to coupon for about three weeks but since I don’t need bulk Depends or 3 tubs of cream cheese for the price of 2, I decided to stop wasting my time.

You catch that?

I DECIDED to stop doing something that I found did not serve me. There was no need to conjure up theories about how corporate America wants me to lose bladder control or eat lots of bagels. I guess I’m just grown like that.

Before I get to the last and best of the fuckery, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how this person is against couponing for 20 cans of peaches but admits to having no problem with hacks for cheap cosmetics and couture. If you’re going to take down the system, your eyebrows must be on fleek while you do so, no? I’d luuuuurve to read a debate between this person and the dollar store poverty warrior from the previous section.

Now, for the grand finale…*drumroll*…the person who wants friends to report a closed group that is labeled as being for “cis” people only.

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The person who posted this appears to be mid-30s but this post took me directly back to 1st grade. This is like me being mad about not being invited to a party, thrown by people I don’t know.

While I’m well aware that people have all kinds of personal issues and insecurities, what takes this over the top is that this person didn’t just express their individual agita. This person rallied their own little group, most of whom probably didn’t know about the group’s existence either, to try to get this closed (because it can’t be reiterated enough) group shut down. This person probably doesn’t even know what is said or done in this closed group, yet they felt the need to create a new movement around their ire over this closed group.

I’m Black and a woman. If I needed the attention (EUREKA!), I could spend the better part of the day rallying people to get all types of groups and websites shut down. But, I’m also an adult. Why would I waste that much time on people who don’t even know I exist?

I know we live in times that are unusual to us. I know that we are in a time where we are having to re-face the things that don’t work for us as a society that Boomers may have thought they dealt with efficiently decades ago. I also know, without a doubt, that some of our personal and collective loads would lighten if we would simply grow the fuck up.