It's been a while since I blogged anything to share with the masses. The reasons for my year long hiatus are many fold, but one of the main ones was the birth of our little bonus baby. As a S.A.H.D. (Stay At Home Dad) I though it important to focus on him, plus having a baby in your forties is an ass kicker! Sleep depravation alone is enough to drive you to the funny farm, add poop, pee, and all the new-fangled baby gadgets to the mix and some days leave you on the floor next to the baby in the fetal position sucking your thumb and crying.
Another main reason for my writing break was I needed some time away from the chaos which is the internet. I just got tired of fighting and arguing with people about posts had written. People can be so hostile on the web and I just didn’t have the time or energy to constantly defend opinions in blogs I thought were made pretty clear (and entertaining if might I say so myself). Plus, honestly, I had better things to do like figure out how our jogging stroller collapsed (not as easily as I hoped), or learn how to make organic baby food from scratch, (I never did but all praise to Gerber, Plum and Happy Baby food products) or just freakin' get some good R.E.M. sleep. Then along came a message on social media that was like poking a hibernating bear or in this case, poking a sleeping blogger.
To set the stage, I was sitting at home minding my own business when I see Facebook Messenger pop up with a message notice. "Some one messaged me!" I thought. You can only imagine the delight as I rarely get messages because I am a grown, married man, who should probably live in a shoe because... (I have so many kids I don't know what to do? Wow! Too much baby time for me, huh?) Maybe it was someone I hadn't talked to in years wanting to get together to shoot the bull? Maybe an old long lost relative to tell me I have a fortune waiting for me in a Swiss bank account? Maybe a message about from the kids upstairs telling me they needed something? (Yeah, all this incredible technology and that's an actual application of said tech.) Well, all that anticipation turned to a whole ball of different emotions when I found the following in my inbox:
*Ed Note: I have covered up all the identifying information as to not put this individual on complete blast.
*Ed. Note: Just to be sure it can be read it have copied the above note in its entirety below.
I took you off my facebook about a year ago after your pro n black lives matter comments. What's funny is most white folks accept you as being white. Your an idiot no doubt. But the way your friends react to you is hillarious. You support racist fucking groups. You support Black Lives Matter. Your kids are at least half white you fucking clown. Your kids are beautiful. Make no mistake. But your ignorant holding this stance that white folks are the problem is ridiculous. Black males make up 52 percent of the murders and violent crime in this country. They represent 6.5 percent of the population. Black on black murders make up 92 percent of all black homicides . There is twice as many white folks killed by cops every in america as opposes to black people. What's funny is your dumb ass supports Hillary Clinton. I used to think you were smart. You do know she claims Senator Byrd as one of her mentors. If you know that you also have to know that dumb ass was a grand cyclopse of the KKK. You candidate supported a Klan member.
I don't think it needs mentioning, but I was taken aback. No, actually stupefied by such an angry, racially-charged, hateful, "out of the blue" note from someone I hadn't interacted with in over 25 years. There has been so much going on in the world for me to lip off about, especially as it relates to race relations, criminal justice, women's issues, religious intolerance, et. al. in America but I have purposely stayed out of the fray. I haven’t posted a blog in over a year and deliberately remained relatively innocuous on most social media (except Twitter; I am a beast on Twitter) because didn't want to get mixed up in the negative back and forth that an opinion can elicit. And then here comes this uninvited Facebook note into my life. Maybe I did mention something "charged" or maybe I just "liked" something provocative, I thought, but whatever it was it was certainly restrained and probably very inoffensive in my mind. Well, regardless of what it was, it set my man "B..." off!
So I am sitting in my home reading this message over and over to see if it's a goof, and if not, to understand where this anger is coming from and then it comes over me; that feeling. The feeling you get when you realize you can't let something go. That moment when you know you have to speak up. It was at that moment that I looked at my wife while channeling Michael Corleone from "The Godfather Part 3" and I handed her my phone to read the message, "Just when I thought I was out...they pull be back in!" I say in a pitch perfect Al Pacino imitation. That was it, I had to blog about this. She, of course, was delighted because me blogging is a much better option than her having to listen to me spurt off my opinions at the TV or to the baby. (He is a good listener that's for sure! For just over a year he has listened and just stared at me like I was a mental patient or the smartest man in the world. It is whatever you perceive "poop face" to be, honestly. The best part is he tends to agree with everything I say... As long as I say in a baby-friendly voice.)
"Where is Bobby Duval? George Hamilton?! George Hamilton?! Are we relocating the family to Florida? Amirite?"
I am no Pollyanna. I realize this election has revealed some deep divisions in the country that need to be discussed but I am shocked at the lack of decorum and civility. It has truly become a cesspool of anger, hatred, misogyny, -phobia and -ism and social media tends to be the medium du jour. Social media has made it possible for people to express the worst, most vile parts of themselves with little or no repercussions. People make the most insane, hateful, proclamations online without thinking. They repeat, share, like and create vile posts and memes that they would not say to their own mother (depending on who your momma is) let alone dare repeat them in face to face interactions. That is until recently. I believe the message i received from "B..." and the many others that people around the country will receive over this election cycle are all products of this lack of civility, spurred on by social media and ignited into the mainstream by a presidential candidate who is appropriating Oompa Loompa culture with his orange spray tan and small hands.
Mr. Wonka, can you come and get your boy? I think he escaped the factory to wreak havoc on the American electorate...
Well in an attempt of combat this new bizarro world we are living through, I have come up with a top ten list of ways to respond to crazy messages from friends and family members over the next few weeks. It's...
Stafford's Top 10 Ways to
Respond to 2016 Politically/Racially Charged Correspondence
10. The "Sting"
Before he became an international rock superstar, philanthropist, protector of the rainforest, tantric sex master, Police frontman and bad ass, Sting was an English and music teacher in Newcastle, England named Gordon Sumner. Rumor has it that early in his career with The Police, Sting took to sending red lined corrections to critics who gave the band poor reviews. This can be very effective as most people willing to send you such a missive more than likely have a weak writing game.
So, in the spirit of Sting, that suave British M.F. (who seriously, someone get him a crack security staff because after Bowie and Prince this year I have the feeling 2016 is out to ruin my teen years) below are my corrections to "B...'s" note.
9. The Seinfeld (Part I)
One running gag on one of my favorite TV shows, Seinfeld, was the “Who is this?” phone call. George, usually, would call with an urgent request and Jerry would reply, “Who is this?”
So in reply to these notes, I think a nice "Who is this?" is a good solution.
8. The Seinfeld (Part II)
Season 2 Episode 4, “The Phone Message”
In this episode, George feels that he is being ignored by a woman he went on a date with because she doesn’t return his phone messages. He leaves several messages each one escalating in anger as she does not return his calls… until she does. She is actually on vacation and couldn’t get her messages. (Gotta love old school technology!) She calls George to see if he tried to call and to tell him she was out of town while telling him she would like to see him. Panicked, George and Jerry hatch a plan to switch the tape when the woman comes home so she doesn’t hear George’s angry rants. (For the Millennials out there, I know this is antiquated, but we really used the things called "cassette tapes" in answering machines. Ask your parents.) When the plan goes off without a hitch Jerry and George soon learn that she had her messages played back earlier by her neighbor who held the receiver to the machine. Just when George thinks he is sunk, the woman laughs and says, “I heard my messages and YOURS WERE HILARIOUS! We Were cracking up!” (Right about minute 24:15 in the below clip.) Same concept, in written form. You just pretend that this note was a huge joke.
7. The Beyonce
As an homage from the song "Sorry":
”Middle fingers up
Put them hands high
Wave it in his face
Tell 'em boy bye
Tell 'em boy bye
Middle fingers up
I ain't thinking 'bout you"
Good solution if you are willing to get all sassy.
6. The Ice Cube
From the movie Friday:
Simple and to the point.
5. The Governor Nikki Haley or the Steel Magnolia Response:
In March of 2016 Donald Trump tweeted out (as he loves to do) that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was an embarrassment. Gov. Haley tweeted the ultimate Southern reply about 30 minutes later…
For those of you that are not from the South as I obviously am because I am such a genteel young man, “Bless Your/His/Her Heart” is our way of telling someone they are a moron. Quite frankly, is it a way that a genteel man or woman from the South can insult you without having to resort to harsh or unbecoming language.
4. Eddie Murphy Raw/Richard Pryor to Bill Cosby:
This one is a little hash for those of us who are on the fence with foul language, but it is completely effective for the sanctimonious and self-righteous people that send you madness.
“I’m offended that you called, Fuck You.” And/or “Have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.” Both can be used interchangeably or together.
Side note: Who would have ever thought when Eddie Murphy RAW came out in '87 that Bill Cosby, "America's Father," was out serial sex abusing... Allegedly. Seriously, when Eddie was doing this bit, Cosby may have been mixing up his famous concoction and possibly giving it to an unknowing young lady who he was "mentoring."
For the record, Bill Cosby is a scumbag, but I will always love Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable.
3. The A.A./N.A. Intervention
Judging by the time, almost 11:30pm, and the date Saturday, July 30 this letter was sent I am going to make a jump and guess that this was fueled impart by alcohol... or some substance. Look, I know what happens when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, but part of me really hopes that this screed was fueled by something other than an overwhelming hate. So, if this is actually the case, this would be my genuine response:
Hey, got your note, and its been a while. Hope you are well, but by the content and tone of your note it doesn't appear so. Is everything ok? It seems you may need help and please feel free to contact me if you ever need that help. A couple of sites you may want to visit if you are not comfortable are www.AA.org, www.NA.org, orwww.APA.org/helpcenter. There is nothing to be ashamed about needing help and millions seek it everyday. I remember you as a very happy, spirited person and I would hate to hear that that person is no longer around. I bet if that guys isn't around anymore you would like him to be back. Please contact me again if you want any help. In fact, one of my dearest friends, Dr. Brams, is a therapist who I am sure would be willing to speak with you and point you in the right direction should you need that.
Let's communicate soon if you do seek the help you may desperately need,
2. The SJW (Social Justice Warrior) mixed with Sarcastic Smartass
Look, I’m no saint, just yesterday I farted on the couch and blamed it on the dog, but I think I have a good sense of who I am and my perspective on the world. Usually, my first inclination when I get things like this is to play the Social Justice Warrior and answer back as to why such comments and notes are nonsense. I know it can come off as sanctimonious and self righteous if done incorrectly and is ripe to receive The Eddie Murphy Raw (see number 4) but it gets to the heart of the matter and allows logic and reason to fly in the face of lunacy. Then sprinkle on a good helping of smartass and you get following:
Hey, thanks for the note! Can't tell you how surprised I was to hear from you after all these years. Sorry to hear you "un-friended" me on Facebook. Bad luck for me, huh? In any case, I thought it was probably a good idea for me to set the record straight as it relates to your message and to acknowledge the time and effort you put into writing me.
Boy, there is a lot to unpack here so let me start at the beginning. I don't particularly remember any direct comments about Black Lives Matter (BLM) on any of my social media in any case I don't seem to understand the animosity you have toward the group. I am sure before you denigrate any movement that you have read in detail what it's about. Since you did, then you would know and have to agree that black and brown people are being killed disproportionately by law enforcement here in the US. And in knowing that's the case, you know BLM is in no way saying other lives don't matter just as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation would condone saying, say, prostate cancer doesn't. I know that a few people who claim to be a part of the group have said some unsavory things about law enforcement, but if you held groups, especially non-centralized ones, accountable for everything people said then all organizations and movements would have zero credibility. BLM is merely shining a light on what has remained a continual problem in our country. I don't know what is wrong with that. Maybe it's the whole moniker you have a problem with, but as I am sure you know, the founders of the movement have stated that the word "too" should be an understood antecedent to BLM. We all know that "All Lives Matter" just as "all cancer sucks," sometimes though, in order to raise awareness to specific issues, we have to hone in on the particular issue. BLM does not mean all lives don't, it merely focuses on a situation that has been lost on some in our society.
Now on to the fact that you (and apparently many others unbeknownst to me) "accepted me as white." Well, I'll be honest, I don't necessarily take that as a compliment. Really, I don't even know what that means. I honestly just try to "do me" and people like it then great! I honestly think I act, or in this case acted, as any middle-class suburban teenager growing up in the 1980's would act. I listened to the Beastie Boys as much as I listened to Public Enemy. I watched "Family Ties" right after watching "The Cosby Show" on Thursday nights and wanted to be like Ferris Bueller or Prince. For some reason you seem to be hinting that being white is in some way better than being a member of any other cultural group. I don't subscribe to that point of view. I love being black, just as my Latino, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, et. al. friends love their respective cultures. Bottom line is we are all just people right? We all bring our cultural experience to the table which makes up the beautiful melting pot which is America, right?
Thanks for noticing that my kids are beautiful, I appreciate it. I don't think its because their mom happens to be white, though. I think its cause they are great kids who hopefully will never have to be labeled so in the really demeaning way you have done in your message. Again, you in some way hint that the "half-white" part of them is better. I just don't understand that, but maybe that explains your "idiot" comment, which I wasn't too keen on being called but may be right. Who knows? Neither was I thrilled about the "fucking clown" description, especially because so many people hate clowns. Who wants to be lumped in with those creeps, right?
I don't know why you would think that I believe, "White folks are the problem" even if I do support BLM. The criminal justice system and years of racial strife are the problem. It is a systemic issue that needs to be worked on by all Americans. In not doing so we risk all our lives and the lives of our children. When law enforcement, who are government agents, can kill unarmed people of color with very little, if any, justification and can get away with it that could spell trouble for all of us. Honestly, where does it stop? Do we allow the police to murder people we don't agree with politically? People of different religions? Women? Those in the LGBT community? Poor people? People with health problems? This is a huge human rights issue that needs to be addressed. I mean, we saw this last century and that turned out horribly. Ask the survivors of the German concentration camps.
Now, "B...," I will concede crime in African-American communities is a large issue. Your numbers, however, are bit skewed. (Got them from an Alt-Right website, right? Maybe Breitbart?) Try the Bureau of Justice Statistics (bjs.gov) for more up to date numbers because the ones you quoted were about 8 years out of date and misrepresented. Anyway, let me harken lack to a disease analogy as it relates to everything. The criminal justice issue is like cancer and Black on Black crime is like heart disease.They are both diseases, both potentially fatal, yet the prescriptions for both are very different. The criminal justice issues we face must be taken care of through a multitiered doctor administered treatment; legislation on the local, state and federal levels. Black on Black Crime, on the other hand, has many causes and factors many which can be controlled by the individual but guidance is needed. There are plenty of societal remedies for this epidemic which if assisted by legislation could be solved in a couple of decades. Unfortunately, it won’t happen overnight. We all just need to put a focus on really helping all underperforming neighborhoods and communities regardless of race and stop using them as an argument linchpin.
Oh yeah, you called me out as a "dumb ass" for my support of Secretary Clinton for President, too. Yes, I am with her and I guess my response is, So What? I like her, I trust her and I support her policies:
-I believe that the economy is built from the middle,
-I believe in a woman's right to choose,
-I believe that the Criminal Justice System needs overhauling,
-I believe that the US plays a critical role in the world and should stand with our allies,
-I believe we need comprehensive immigration policy with a path to citizenship,
-I believe our country needs common sense gun legislation,
-I believe consenting adults of any sexual orientation should be allowed to marry and the government recognize that union,
-I think climate change is real and humans can do something about it,
-I believe our vets should be taken care of,
-I believe that health care is a right and not a privilege
- and I believe that college should be affordable to all those who want to attend.
-I don't give a damn about her email. Colin Powell suggested it. Mitt Romney spent thousands in taxpayer dollars erasing his campaign emails. Hell, Karl Rove helped George W and the RNC delete millions emails. So this is all "trumped" up (like what I did there) to make her look bad, which is sad because she is really very qualified and capable. Unfortunately for her, he doesn't have a cock and balls. (Unless you count Bill's which are certainly in her purse after the Monica Lewinsky thing....)
That is a truncated list of what I believe and think about The HRC. I don't think I am a "dumbass" for those beliefs and if you think I am, I guess we will have to agree to disagree as most rationale adults should. You have the right to your opinion and you can bet I would never call you a "dumbass" for your opinion if you had valid reasons. I don't do that because I know we all come from different perspectives in life. I just hope you are supporting the other guy for cogent reasons and not just because he says undocumented Mexican workers are "rapists and murderers" and that he wants to keep Muslims out of our country. If that is your rationale for supporting the other guy, I would really start rethinking my world view and life priorities.
And finally...as far as Sec. Clinton's relationship with former Sen. Robert Byrd is concerned, yes, he was a member of the Klan when he was younger. And yes, that is disturbing, but I have to take the man at his word when he apologized NUMEROUS times and chalk it up to misguided youth. (Also disturbing? You knowing the ranks of the Klan. Dude, are you hiding something?) I also have to rely on the NAACP's judgement when they said the following his passing; "Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country." So I think I'm good.
"B...", really, thanks for your note. Wish I could say I was sorry for disappointing you in some way, but I can't. I feel pretty good about my life and the people who do call me a friend. I just hope you are happy and content too.
Have a great life, and remember, next time you decide to send an offensive message to someone, don't.
Your “un-friended” friend,
1. The Maya Angelou
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them."
This is ultimately the best, most zen, adult way to handle these types of situations, just walk away and make sure you always remember who that person is because they told you.
I don't know what "B..." expected my response to his message to be. A deranged wake up call to me, maybe? A reminder that, "most people see me as white" and that should wake me from my unapologetic blackness as it relates to societal issues. If this was his goal, I think he will be deeply and sorely disappointed. Unfortunately, for "B..." he just doesn't know me too well, but I think I know him very well. See, the good thing about bigots is that they reveal themselves eventually. They can't help themselves. They are pathological. This note tells me all I need to know about my old "friend" "B..." and I believe him.
Sometimes in life, The Universe brings people back into your life for a reason. During this crazy political cycle, I think many of us will be visited by these types of specters whether it be at work, at school, on social media, in your neighborhood or in your family. We need to look at these interactions for what they are and respond as we see fit. For some, this maybe a sign to change your peer group or to severely cut or even sever ties with people including family members. For others it may be an opportunity open up a dialog for a better understanding of people beliefs and where they are coming from. For still others, it maybe something that reinforces and strengthens their personal beliefs or it could do the complete opposite. For me, I choose to see this wrongheaded, bigoted, offensive note from someone I haven't interacted with in over 2 decades as a catalyst start my writing again; and for that I say, Thank You Universe... and "Bless Your Heart, 'B...'."