Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For Peace Sake: You Might Need To Call Me

I happened to visit a page I hadn't seen in a while and came across a post that looked like it directly (and not so happily) addressed one of my posts. I'm mostly surprised because, if I'm right, I contacted you directly when I had an issue (albeit, it was years ago). There was obviously a misconception here, so if you need to contact me directly at I might even do a phone call.
I'll address what was said but I'm not going on an angry rant here, because I don't believe in Internet wars. They take a lot of time and energy and build a lot of blind anger that can be fixed in a five minute phone conversation (which I am more than open to participate in). If anything here makes you upset, just email to clarify. It may very well be a misinterpretation. But it's good in its own way because you can learn a lot when things like these happen.

I use this blog mostly to practice my writing. I often cover instances, experiences, I see and experience and are vivid in my mind since I only work with editors on an occasional basis, and they rarely pay me to go out into the field. So I practice here, albeit in very rough form, on my own. On a busy day, maybe I get four unique visitors, and, save for the occasional editor who wants to see types of samples I have on this blog and nowhere else,  I'm not looking for any more. My blog is not a crusade; it's personal and practical. But I won't shy away from things just because they are controversial or uncomfortable if they in fact are true. And all I am speaking to is my experience.

I put up a slice of my life and it was taken as intended to mean something else altogether. The reason behind the blog post was nothing more than me having a personal conversation about 1) degrees and prestige  with two people who have seen a lot more of this world than I have, 2) listening to a family member talk about his experiences fighting and reflecting on mine, 3) perusing over a music website, 4) just having spoke to my Australian-Irani friend who is in town, 5) prepping for an interview with a comic who covers the intersection of race and politics, 6) thinking of who was going to try to interview for a world music website, and was 7) editing an article that focused on black men and media, which referenced one of the cities I mentioned in the post. I woke up in the middle of the night wanting to write and tried to wrap all my swirling thoughts into one post using my own experience because I just wanted to write. And I wanted a title that could fit all that into as few words as possible. If "socio-cultural" doesn't sum that up then what two words do?

Just so there are direct clarifications: The whole "fight" thing had nothing to do with inner cities in general and everything to do with my personal experience very specifically in NYC subways and in Brooklyn nightclubs. I specifically wrote about places I've traveled back and forth to for the bulk of my life and the specific instances where I was able to avoid confrontation. It should not be a surprise that potential confrontations often happen in a big room with a bunch of drunk men competing for women. It should also not be a surprise that these things often happen in a subway, where dozens of people - white, black, or purple - are stuffed into an over-sized tin can. So it should be no surprised these are the places, for me, where the opportunity to engage in or avoid confrontation happened more than once. I specifically talked about the two places where I was successfully able to avoid confrontation, and, by happenstance, more than once in each.

If it gives you peace of mind to know, every issue I've had on the subway (you know it when you see it) except for one was with a white person in down town Brooklyn or Manhattan, not the inner city. I could have also referred to a number of other places I've been, fights that I've seen, or fights that I've been in for "effect." But it wasn't about other people. I was specifically speaking to places I've drifted in and out of since way young till now, not just a few years. That's what I make reference to in the post. If it looks ugly to you and you dislike it, then fine, I can live with that. If you have something to suggest to correct or improve I will thank you whether or not you are angry (I will gleefully take curse words and all). If it adds up to something on its own then fine. But you make a lot of assumptions about what you think I'm trying to do that just aren't true.

As far as night clubs, I was "only" talking about Brooklyn (and in particular, a specific section of Brooklyn, I was not about to shout out anyone's neighborhood), and specifically in early my 20's. I spent a lot of my youth in night clubs, and in more cities than I've mentioned in this post. A lot of them were in "main" city (if you can call it that), some were in smaller towns, and a good bit were in the inner city in various places. But I only had issues in Brooklyn in my early 20's. That's why it stuck out to me as being odd. Because it only happened in that particular borough, at that particular age, more than once, and not the other dozen or so cities I've partied in, inner city or not. When I talk about men talking to women, notice that I don't refer to any place but that little corner of Brooklyn, and those three times that it happened. It was odd that they all happened in the same place and no other.

Also, nowhere in the post do I say I felt picked on or that "acting white" were an issue, because I felt neither of those things. I'm talking about places I've gone to on a regular basis since birth, where the people, the family, I love are. They are why I ended up through there in the first place.

Secondly: My point was not to "teach" or "show" how something is done. If you want me to be real honest, I actually was asked if I wanted to "show" peers in Trenton when I was in high school. But just like you seem to be trying to say, and like I alluded to in the very beginning of the original post you read, I thought that was a narrow assumption based on looks and image, and it felt wrong and awkward to me (so we actually agree here) and I declined. I had just come from the same education program in Trenton I mentioned in the post and my very reaction was "I'm not sure what I would have to say, because most of the kids I met are smarter than I am." I left that part out of this post because I thought it added nothing and might offend someone, cause a reaction like the one I received. But I received it anyway.

If  I really felt as strong as you did, for good or bad reason, I would come to you personally. And given what I've seen, I'm pretty sure I have come to you in the past (albeit, it was years ago).

If you take it personal, then feel free to address me personally. But I think it's counterproductive to broadcast an anger to the world that is misplaced.

If you can take all that time and energy and focus and effort to write an open angry letter it should be easy to send me an email directly. I might even speak to you by phone.

This is the best and worst of internet culture. Worst because it becomes easy to get so angry over small change and stew in it without ever speaking with one another to clarify.  Best because resolution makes for the best kind of understanding. But I'm not participating in any extended back and forth internet war. That just fuels the fire, and that's only good for a public show. I'd much rather hear what you have to say first hand.

Seriously. If you have an issue, just come to me.