Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Note: from time to time I like to add posts from my wife to prove there's more than one writer in the family (smile). This is from an old blog called The Man Shortage (now found on the Wayback Machine, themanshortage.com). Please take the time to read this and if you feel motivated, leave a nice comment or two. Thanks!
What About Your Friends?
Do you have friends that seem to be unhappy when you are doing well? Do you keep people around you that are always criticizing your appearance or your choices? Do you stay in contact with people who have happy, healthy relationships, or do their lives always seem filled with drama? Chances are, if their lives are in chaos, they will want yours to be as well.
Don't get me wrong - everybody deserves a second chance. People change and grow, make mistakes, experience and project pain. At the end of the day, though, you want to surround yourself with people who enrich your life, not take what they want and leave you to fend for yourself.
Your true friends will remain, and I count relatives in that same group. You can't choose the family you are born into, but you can decide who you will spend your time with and whether others are worthy of your time and love.
Are you looking for someone special to spend your life with, but can't seem to find the time or the opportunity? Try going out by yourself to a concert, book event, or art exhibit. Believe it or not it can be very intimidating for someone to strike up a conversation with a group of your friends standing nearby. Unless of course your friends want to see you happy with someone.
However you decide to proceed in your friendships remember to remain compassionate and forgiving. I believe that often people who have hurt others are just not capable of giving the kind of love that is required to maintain healthy relationships. I also believe that if they were capable of doing better by others and even within themselves, they would do better. It is your job to lead by example, and you can't do that if you are allowing others to treat your time, your heart and your love like something to wipe their feet on, or worse.
In my MySpace days, I had a separate blog called 'The Jazz with Chazz' posting lighthearted and weird stories from today's headlines. Little did I know the subject of one of the articles I posted would react. It was an article (I think) about a doctor in another country who apparently either gave the wrong diagnosis or prescription to a patient. Not long after I shared that on my blog, the doctor replied. He didn't type angry words mind you, but in his reply wanted to tell his side of the story. Since the Jazz with Chazz had a comedic slant to it, I sent a reply of my own that was a bit snarky, but meant no harm. What surprised me that as of 2005, I did not expect anyone from the stories I shared to respond to the blog. In the case of social media now, folks who are 'called out' often go after the users who abuse them online. In today's current climate, there's an incident every day.
On one of my social media feeds, I expressed my disappointment with my local councilman and county supervisor over the way they handed an important piece of land in my neighborhood and act as if our voices have no impact. My constant rantings have attracted the attentions of quite a few users online including one who knows the community well and the politicians in it. I have to keep in mind that as an author I'm considered to be a public figure. Not as important as the Rowlings or Morrisons among us, but the books I've written plus the fact I've grown up in South (Central) Los Angeles does capture the eyes of users who have seen me throw up a hashtag or two. I admit I am only an author, not a community activist although in social media it's easy to express a thought or two, and then catch fire. If only folks had time to read through the countless entries on this blog, they will know how my mind operates, not based on a silly social media platform (smile).
Reaching out to that author, entertainer, athlete, politician on social media just to troll them is a sight to behold, but one has to wonder if it's purely venting (like I have done) or just to get a rise from the other side. If you were to do a Google search "How do you deal with negative comments on social media?", you can view sites like this which shows the reader how to respond or not to negative comments on social media. The users who don't know how to restrain themselves have been featured on multiple news outlets with sad tales of how they couldn't hold in their racism, sexism, dumbism, or anything close to it. These are the folks who become unemployed, shamed at work if they retain their jobs, settling to forever watch an ill-advised post of theirs 'blow up' in their proverbial faces.
The Jazz with Chazz was meant to be fun with no harm meant to anyone. In today's online world, the only 'fun' left is for an offensive user to troll an intended target with thousands, even millions in on the unfortunate joke. The MySpace era was simple fun back then. As we've seen in recent years, even the fun has disappeared from the internet.
Fellas, this isn't the way you want to go out; standing up shouting, cussing into the air while the calm, cool reporter sits there unmoved, unflinching, unfazed by the outburst.
By now, the above photo is reaching iconic status and for this reason; it captures the moment R&B singer R. Kelly totally lost control of an interview with reporter Gayle King filmed for CBS This Morning. We all see it, continue to see it and anyone who didn't believe the many, many allegations against R. Kelly, this is what should be the final nail in the coffin of a long career if you count his days with Public Announcement. Personally, when R. Kelly was first accused on these crimes some eighteen, nineteen years ago, I didn't 'cape' for him. If he's guilty, he deserves to go down, end of story. I should also caution the reader the following: in some eerie way, this is closely related to the public and social media crucifixion of Nate Parker before the release of Birth of a Nation. Parker also faced scrutiny from those who accused him of his guilt of a rape of a young woman in college. The young lady died in 2012. Social media activists and others played the role of 'avenger' for the young woman, harshly questioning Parker at every turn to admit his part of a crime he was acquitted of. Kelly also went through his trial process in 2008 and also was acquitted of child pornography by a jury of nine men and three women. The moral to this? Even though you have been found 'not guilty' in a court of law doesn't hold the same weight when you are judged by a court of public opinion. Don't believe me? Ask Michael Jackson who also found his past to not only be judged by a court of public opinion, but he can no longer defend himself.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are important but they have shown up to this point to possess a certain pitchfork mentality towards Black men on social and traditional media. Not that anyone should be surprised. Remember this gem from 1988?
Yes, hold up an image of a Black man, constantly show it repeatedly and observe the reaction it gets. Horton (thanks to Lee Atwater) helped George H.W. Bush win the presidency. The constant barrage of negative press towards Parker slowed the momentum of Birth of a Nation. While there is no defense of Mr. Robert Kelly - none whatsoever - his career is now buried in the closet instead of trapped in it.
My suggestion to brothas who one day face their own trial through the public? Don't agree to an interview if society has already prejudged you as guilty. You won't win. You'll never win. On Instagram and Twitter I posted stanzas of my poem 'I Am A Man' from The Depths of My Soul. One of the lines I'm grateful to write is 'we will never be conquered'. Sorry to say, the near iconic image above added to the everlasting barrage against Black men deserved or not - is a damn good effort to not only conquer us but to strip us of our manhood, mock our intellectuality, redefine who and what we are; Black men. I am still optimistic that in the end, the gentlemen in us will rise and shut this nonsense down. It needs a total shutdown now.
That was some Black History Month eh? R Kelly, Jussie Smollet, Kamala Harris, who didn't get in trouble in February? Obviously, it was a month to forget which you could based on the fact the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, and the Oscars made sure you forgot February is a month for Black History, which the dominant society calls Sweeps Month which did its job. It swept Black accomplishments out of our conscious minds.
That's too bad because Black History has been mentioned as American History. Of course to the dominant society, Tom Brady's dominance in the NFL, LeBron James's all-star selections and learning which movie with the most political correctness won the most Oscars is more important than learning about Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, ancient civilizations and empires not named Rome or Greece, right? Not that the Black experience be limited to twenty-eight days, but the other three hundred thirty seven days goes without nary a mention of positive Black history. The history we're fed now has a lot to do with slavery, slavery, slavery and nothing but. Past and present bondage is what we see on the news and in our media. Instead, we were punished with yet another ongoing pop-culture story of Jordyn Woods involved with Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers who happened to be the baby daddy of - naw, the less said about THAT family, the better. Nothing in the past month had anything to do with Black history except these people need to be history.
Black people need to realize WE HAVE NO ALLIES! Period. End of story. It doesn't matter if you graduated with a Ph. D from a prestigious university appearing on CNN espousing another talking point from a political party or ideology that does not care for you. Last month, the dominant society said 'Black History be damned. We're making our agendas known!' We're through with the symbolism from political candidates seeking a higher office. We're sick and tired of Trojan Horse 'agents' who side with the opposite sex to denigrate and humiliate Black men when Black History featured Black men and women together doing their best to uplift their people. Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B.DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Mary Bethune, George Washington Carver, Madam C.J. Walker, Muhammad Ali, Mae Jemison, Dr. Charles Drew. The list goes on and on and on. Because of the foolishness of grown folk, we never did learn the history of these individuals last month. Instead, we read stories of a Kardashian adventure.
Personally, I am sick and tired of the dominant society dictating what their terms of social justice are. I'm sick of a society influencing our young men and women to pump their fists for causes they only care about. If this society were really serious, they would understand the trials and turmoil Black people have suffered in this land erroneously called Liberty. This society has brainwashed and influenced the current generation that masculinity is toxic, Black men are no good, and that their opinions first and foremost, are what matters and nothing else. Black History proves to us that when you don't care what people think or say, you can achieve great things. You can accomplish a lot. It won't be easy. It never is and you will pay a price. The reward is that others will watch and listen how you handle your trouble and be motivated to speak their own minds, follow their own hearts. Black History teaches you to be an individual, how to be a leader.
If I had my way, I would push back the Super Bowl to the end of January, same with the NBA All-Star game, the Oscars until the beginning of March. I would schedule programs which focus on Black achievements and accomplishments across the centuries. For those of you who feel there's not enough history to fill in the entire month, Google it for yourselves. February is only one month but dang, it is past time to make it our month again and place the focus on our history.
For reasons of my own, I don't comment much on news stories made for our collective outrage. These emotionally inducing manufactured tales are in my opinion, not worth my initial reaction until all the facts - yes they matter - come out. Problem is, the snap judgments from all of us on social media are frustrating. They take away the experience of reading and then responding to a news story of interest. Take for example the Jussie Smollett story that has erupted (or imploded) in the past two days. Before you and I can make an educated guess on what has occurred, there have been more plot twists than a novel.
In previous posts like this one, I would state that the story or article that we are upset over isn't one to be angered about. Most of the time the celebrities mentioned could hardly care less about you and the subject matter while it provokes a response, what caused your temperature to rise will fade for the next day or so while the next news story causes you to fume. Besides the Smollett story, Trump's National Emergency, Les Mooves's next venture and others, there are too many articles, think pieces, and other written streams of thought designed to weaken our collective resolve, breaking us down until we become sick of social media (and the actual world we live in) for us to care anymore.
It's hard to keep up with current events when the current events we absorb into memory are bought and paid pieces of propaganda on the conservative, progressive, or enemy nation side. You know what should help? Eliminating the comment section altogether. Any social media or website with a comment section (including this blog) should be removed forever. How helpful it would be to read a story without delving into comments that show how sick of a society we are? Co-signing every horrible action, disintegrating into stereotypical language, name calling, who needs that? Before placing blame on comic books in real time, how about we shift the blame on where it belongs? THIS MEDIUM. I'll explain in another post but comic books encourage literacy, the internet does not and never will. It encourages the uninformed, uneducated to believe their voices matter and nothing else. It also encourages the lack of discernment with the plentiful number of news articles we read online. This is why the posts on this blog have lessened over the years besides work. Why comment on a news story with no intelligent benefit behind it? At least printed newspapers had content that made you think although they were just not as trustworthy at times.
Social media is a Paradise fire burning even more out of control. The land burned and charred to a crisp? Our minds should we continue fanning the flames on quick 'send' emotion instead of sitting back absorbing the facts.