There’s this odd confusion that exists among people with “unpopular opinions.” They believe that people aren’t allowing them the freedom of their thoughts and that if others disagree with them, vehemently, then they are being persecuted for exercising their right to free speech. This is, of course, not true.
For one, being provocative, while possibly just being your M.O., is a choice. Sharing your unpopular and provocative opinion is also a choice. At the point when you decide to share said opinion, you are opening up the doors for people to disagree with it and to assume that a person with your mental frame of mind isn’t beneficial to their existence on earth. Which, let’s be real, might be true.
If you think being gay is an abomination, for whatever reason, I am not required to entertain your opinion under the guise of creating a conversation. You’re starting with a premise I don’t believe, and suggesting that a person is unworthy of their humanity. If you think being black is some sort of pathology, the same principle applies. You add nothing of value or purpose to my life.
When I was at UC Berkeley a couple of weeks ago, the discussion about my issues with my mother came up. And as is usually the case, I was asked about being willing to listen to somebody with an opposing view. That question—and it’s been asked of me by tons of folks and even by my mother—has always frustrated me. Here’s why: There are opposing views, but there are opposing views that are rooted in white supremacy or violence or oppression, etc.
If your opposing view is rooted in something that is genuinely harmful to another person, why do I owe it to you to continually listen and attempt to understand? Short answer is, I don’t. You can keep your destructive worldview and find your community of destroyers while I take my ball and go home to the arms of the ones who love me.
Dissent is fine; it is necessary. None of us lives in a vacuum, and it is important to know and meet different types of people who can enlighten your own view or show you where your view is wrong. Change occurs only when people with different views are able to look past them and see the humanity in others. I think we can all agree there.
But why do I owe you the grace of listening to you tell me that the racist rhetoric you trumpet or the patriarchy that you proselytize is worthy of discussion when it’s rooted in demonstrable harm to another person? You are not owed a discussion to hear your argument for oppressing others. You can’t sit here.
If you want to argue or debate the merits of school choice or what is most at stake for the black community in upcoming elections, cool. We may all have varying and different opinions. We could all learn something from an educated, boisterous discussion. Sure, some feelings may get hurt, and we will have tense moments. But ultimately, we’re all there for the betterment of the community and because we love the kids. Our discussion, while filled with various viewpoints, is largely about positivity and moving on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky.
The minute you suggest that school choice matters because the black folks in certain areas don’t really care about education, you’ve lost me. I don’t need to hear shit else that you have to say because you’re not my people. You are demonstrating anti-blackness. And even if there are some folks in those communities who don’t care, that is nowhere near the consensus, and you are speaking of blacks as anti-education, which is inherently wrong and nonfactual. At that point, what do you really have to offer any conversation? You become a person whose facts are entirely geared toward proving that already trash point you made.
It’s largely the problem that I have with folks who fall on the sword of persecution because they think they’re getting hammered for provocative and incendiary positions. Provocation isn’t something people can’t handle; to the contrary, people like provocative.
It gets the people going. Ahem.
Where it all goes wrong is when you determine that your provocation must come at the expense of other groups’ liberation. You think black folks are inferior. Cool. Fuck your couch and go play with your other racist friends. You believe that “slavery was a choice.” Cool. Fuck your couch and everybody else who is trying to justify such nonsense. You think that black folks can’t do worse than vote for Donald Trump? Cool. Fuck your couch and go put on your “Make America Great Again” hat and continue to preach the white-gaze ministry of white supremacy.
Just know that once you decide to go that route, if folks decide to cut you off, it’s not because we don’t respect other opinions or your right to have them. It’s because your opinions are bad and you make them worse by trying to justify something that you’re clearly wrong about.
Black liberation (or anybody’s liberation, really) is about the synthesis of ideas that enable and support the needs of our community and serve as a catalyst for change and, at the end, equality—creating the ability to focus on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without persecution for being born. If your thoughts don’t align there, then why should anybody listen to what you have to say? For why? Why are you owed the freedom of exchange with your thoughts if they are innately rooted in oppression of anybody? Which is a damn shame because in order to make this thing work, we have to get as many folks, maybe not on the same page, but at least in the same section of the library.
There is no agreeing to disagree when freedom is on the line. And just because you’re in a prison of your own making doesn’t mean I care about your freedom of thought or speech. Actions come with consequences, and sometimes your speech is your action and those consequences are removal and cancellation.
You have every right to speak your mind and share your thoughts.
And I have every right to kick your whole shit to the curb.