Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Open Letter To Stephen A. Smith,ESPN Analyst, on "Oversensitivity in American Pop Culture"

Dear Mr. Stephen A. Smith,

  I am writing this open letter to you, in response to comments made on your show with Skip Bayless yesterday regarding "sensitivity" as it regards to race. Let me preface my remarks by noting, for the record, that I am a 37 year old Black Gay(Same Gender Loving) male that watches the banter between yo and Skip every morning before I head off to work. I am a big fan of sports, particularly football and basketball.  I was curious about comments you made yesterday regarding "oversensitivity"  of some groups, such as Blacks, Asians, Latinos/Hispanics, etc, and "homosexuals"(as you described us). You kept using the term "mistake" which I found particularly frustrating, in your overall statement that a person who makes, as you call it a "mistake" or incendiary, offensive, or derogatory remark about another group getting fired or suspended, and having " their ability to provide for their wives and children interrupted" by these seemingly simple "mistakes". Here are my issues with this:

1). On what planet, does a GROWN MAN OR WOMAN, need to be told, that when you are in the public square, be it television, twitter, radio, print news or blogging, that when you are an athlete or public figure, that "jokes" about race, gender or sexual orientation WILL be scrutinized, and perceived in many different ways, some maybe taking it as offense? When you give interviews and stand before the public, you sign an inherent underlying social contract that such comments, even if benign to YOU, may cause offense to others. How are these "simple, innocent mistakes" as you implied that they are? I have no problem with people speaking their mind, as long as they are adult enough to handle the consequences for their actions. Think of it this way: If you would not dare "joke" about the Jewish community, out of fear of reprisal, then that means that these people on some level are aware of what to say and NOT to say, so it speaks more to who you respect(fear, maybe?) and who you have no regard for, that makes it easier or more difficult to make incendiary "jokes" about that group.

2). You also made a remark that you "may just not know" if another group will take your(or anyone's) remarks about said group offensively. I think you are WAY too smart for this, Mr. Smith. Come on. Using the phrase, "CHINK in the armor" when referring to an ASIAN athlete seems pretty clearly offensive to me. (referencing the ESPN controversy recently). When you are paid to be in public, how do people NOT know to keep it professional? I have read more than my share of your tweets. You use words to push buttons all the time, and you are well aware of their intended effect. I do much the same. If I am on my job, and make a racially offensive remark to someone on the property during company time, i can and most likely will be disciplined. If you are an athlete getting millions of dollars to represent a product or company, EVERYTHING you say will be viewed a certain way, and by now, all athletes and folk in sports media should know this. Please explain how they do not. This defense by "ignorance" is a crock of crap.

3). I follow a Golden Rule, and this usually keeps things 100% tight and right for me: Treat others, the way you want to be treated. It's old, i know. If people think like that, however, none of this would happen, would it? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know not to call gays "fags, homos, punks"etc. or any such reference. Doesn't take anyone with an IQ over 65 to know that race is a SENSITIVE subject, and unless you got the balls to go there, stay the heck away. What I think you do not realize, is that many in your profession, be they athletes, writers, media folks,etc. can HIDE  a whole lot of hateful stuff under the guise of  it being a "joke", thinking they can push buttons, get attention, and stir folks up, because the groups they ridicule, they think are punching bags, and not much will be done. Then when they get fired or suspended, they cry victim. Come on, Mr. Smith. They underestimated the reaction, but they DAMN WELL knew that a reaction of some kind was coming. If they have to feed their families off of what they say in public, then bottom line is, they need to keep it cute, or keep it on mute.

Mr Smith, I continue to get a laugh and be entertained and informed by you and Skip on a daily basis...but let's not pretend folks don't know what they are doing when they say certain things. They just miscalculated the response.

Take care!


Brother Hassan

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life: More like High School Than I ever Imagined....

Hey guys!

  I was just sitting here at work, pondering some things, and it occurred to me that life is a lot like high school...whether you are at work, in a social setting such as a club or party, or what type of person you date, there are similarities that fall into social archetypes crystalized during your high school years.  I wanted to take a few moments to jot down some of the personality types and social roles many people fall into, and how life is either similar, or different, than high school. Here goes:

1).Extrovert /Mr./Ms. Popular: This person seems to chatter and socialize all day long. Their concept is either implicitly, or explicitly, wrapped up in their social standing with their peers. This is a common behavioral concept, as most human beings enjoy adoration. These people, however, crave it. they will say and do whatever is necessary to keep the image they want you to have of them, intact.

2). Introvert/Mr/Ms Shy Person: This person is very comfortable in the background, with a few friends, does not engage in many social activities unless it means a lot to them. They find themselves rising rapidly in certain fields, such as music or sports, because their talent allows them to be the type of person that they wished they could be, and be very successful at the same time. Example of a talented  introvert: Michael Jackson.

3). Jock:  This type is not particularly bright, but is physically gifted and usually pays more attention to his body or his sporting endeavor, because it is his niche into the social mainstream of his peer group. They tend to hang with other jocks, discuss physical matters, and develop their identity around their physical prowess. Whether they be athletes in high school, or muscle queens in the gym, the pathology is the same.

4).Anti-Extrovert: This is different from a true introvert, as this type of person has made a conscious decision to go against the "I'm popular" grain by doing things that, while drawing attention to themselves, paint an image of them as a "bad boy", not the person attempting to place their best image forward to gain peer respect. Types that fall into this category are: quiet butch queens that hyper-masculinize their "thug" persona to appear "hard", the Goth/Metal crowd, the party gal that does every drug known to man and gets shit-faced, and the flamboyant fem queen that must take every stereotype of being gay, and portray each one with volume turned all the way up to shock people into noticing them. A common strand  of each personality type is tremendous low self esteem.

5). Mean Girls: In high school, these girls hung together like a pack of hyenas, to be as mean as they could to introverted, quiet types they can pick on. Individually, they weren't enough to add up to a hill of beans, but together, they unite to terrorize those they think they can prey on. They exist in real life as well. Some black folks, when they first meet you, will intentionally try you with a crack that can be considered offensive, just to monitor your reaction. If they see you might be hurt by it, they turn the "mean girl" in them on until you snap. The best strategy for shutting a mean girl down, is to stop them right after the FIRST wisecrack. Establish that you are not to be played with up front, and "mean girls", whether male or female, will back down.

6)Nerds/Geeks/Socially Awkward: These kids had a devil of a time being respected and admired in high school. They didn't fit in with the "cool kids" the popular kids, the jocks, or anyone else. They were brighter than the others, but you can't wear intelligence to the High School Prom, can you? They fell into the introverted group only because the other groups drove them there. Be careful though: In high school, nerds and geeks had no power in the pecking order. In the real world, they are your bosses and the owners of your companies. They suffered hell in high school and have made up their mind to be successful and reap holy Hell on anyone who tries them the same way they were tried in high school. They will read you into a coffin, and then figure out a neat way to fire you.

7).Cool Kids: these are the naturally popular people. They dress nice, have "the look" people are drawn to, and are on everyone's list of people to hang with. Some have substance, some do not. Case by case basis.Image is something they never have to work at, unlike extroverts, and so they are usually those elected to high school  offices and such. They go on to live decent lives, working for the nerds and geeks they shunned in high school.

Hope you can see yourself in one of these types...Take care!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Placing Friendship Over Truth: How Organizations Crumble From Within...

Hey guys!

   Just wanted to give you a quick shout, and impart some common sense, tough-nosed lessons for some who may misconstrue my blunt, direct, and forthright approach. Here goes:

1). For me, TRUTH comes before everything. Friendships, relationships, family, all must be rooted in TRUTH. Sometimes truth can be harsh. At times truth can be brutal. If it is the TRUTH, however, then to speak it, or type it, knowing that it will offend, scare, anger or empower people is not a bad thing. Sacrificing TRUTH for friendship with your homies, or to create a false sense of peace in your organizations, churches, or groups, is to ensure the downfall of those entities. Far too often, particularly black people, stay silent about things, out of fear that to speak it will "cause drama", or disrupt peace. The worst threat to peace, however, IS silence. In the Holy Qur'an, there is a verse that reads: "And We CAST Truth against Falsehood, until we knocked out its brains". One must think to tell a lie. The lie itself is an intangible thing; The liar, however is real. If peace can only be achieved through a series of lies, then the bearer of Truth will be in conflict with those who wish to keep falsehood as the order of the day.

 2). Freedom of speech is often misunderstood. Just because you have the freedom to speak your mind, does not mean you now become free from having that opinion challenged. Most people want, at their core(although they will never admit it), to speak their mind, have everyone AGREE, and they move on. Just remember: If you say you are the greatest this or that, in the world, others have the right to say, "that's bullshit", and challenge your assertion. If you are not strong enough to stand on it without becoming emotional, then you will be destroyed and end up running away from that which challenged you. Weakness and immaturity of speech will only get you slayed.

3). If you have a need to be validated or loved by strangers, and have no solid foundation of self love, you will not make it through life very well. Most people who seek a lot of attention, are really missing something on the inside that they think adoration from others will fulfill. It will not. Maturity involves knowing that you are a whole person, full of self love, and that self love will cause others to love you without you even trying. After all, as Iyanla Vanzant says, "If you don't like being with yourself, how is anyone else going to like being with you???"  The "look at me, aren't i pretty and sexy? don"t you like me? Please tell me I'm hot"  mentality is so pathetic.

4) OWN YOUR SHIT. If you lie and get caught, OWN IT. If you have made mistakes, OWN THEM. Because refusal to own our faults allows others to use them against us. This is why I wrote a book detailing aspects of the worst part of my life journey. Because I have made peace with it, no one can use it against me once i make peace with my past.

5).When a person will correct you, it does not signal hate, or "negativity". When a person will correct you, it is often for your own improvement. If you do not have the depth of character to handle correction, then you will sleepwalk through life, unable to grow because you cannot even correct your own faults. The Bible speaks to this: "...He whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth much..."So even God is not above correcting us, in ways we may think harshly also, to get us to be better. Don't get all bent out of shape, lying to cover your lie, attacking the corrector, and getting all in your feelings. Toughen up, humble yourself, and look at what was stated.

I hope that someone can draw from these words, as much as I did even in forming them. Take care! Love you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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