I spend a great deal of my day trying to figure out what to write about for my next story. Luckily for me, there's rarely a day that passes without a hot-button issue being debated on one of my many social media timelines.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've spent a great deal of time, perhaps more than usual, "exchanging ideas" about issues surrounding Gabrielle Douglas, Nate Parker, Chris Brown, Colin Kaepernick and more. I've noticed some repetitive counterarguments that often derail otherwise substantive conversations. I mean, that is the point, isn't it?
I rounded up a few of the most frequent (and illogical) ways uncomfortable (or sadistic) commenters ruin productive discussions:
1. "Why now?"
This is the go-to line for Bill Cosby apologists and Parker defenders. They want to know why Cosby's accusers came forward after decades of silence. Or why Parker's rape trial is being discussed now.
And I just want to know, "Why not now?" You can't be charged with certain alleged crimes after a certain amount of time, but we can't discuss them, either, even when the story is currently in the news cycle? Even when a celebrity sits for interviews about his misdeeds? Should we all consult our calendars for an undefined expiration date before caring or commenting?
If an alleged victim doesn't speak up immediately, then she should take it to her grave? Is that how this works? If a heinous crime is alleged to have taken place and there's been no past accountability, is time a get-out-of-anyone-having-an-opinion free card?
Someone let me know. I'm confused.
2. "But white people allow it/don't do … "
White people are not the gold standard. I repeat: White people are not the gold standard. That there are moviegoers who turn a blind eye to Woody Allen or Roman Polanski, or who separate the man from his work of art, isn't a valid reason for black people to look past the shenanigans or crimes allegedly or actually committed by another black person. We ain't gotta "follow the leader." We can think independently and hold black folk accountable when necessary.
3. "Don't judge/Only God can judge."
Out of all the responses, this one irritates me the most. To judge, by Merriam-Webster's definition, is to form an opinion or draw a conclusion. We all judge. All of us. All the time. And that includes the "Don't judge" people. They just can't articulate a proper argument to defend their point of view, or they're guilty of similar behavior. Instead of admitting that, they get on the moral high horse and try to shame into silence folks who are using their brains. It's sooooo annoying, but rarely works.
4. "There are more important topics, like … "
In fairness, discussing the fit or pattern of Cam Newton's pants doesn't compare, in terms of importance, to, say, poverty, racism or rape. But if you see that's the topic of discussion and you think it's wack, why didn't you keep scrolling?
And yes, folks can discuss Cam's pants one minute and #BlackLivesMatter the next. It's not as if folks get one opinion a day and they've wasted it frivolously on fashion.
This argument is even worse when folks actually are discussing an important topic such as racism or sexism or rape, and someone jumps in to say they should be talking about something else. Without fail, when folks are discussing police brutality, there's always someone who wants the whole discussion to cease and switch to “black-on-black” crime. Women discussing sexism or rape? There's always that one person who jumps in wanting to talk about black folk uniting to fight the Man instead.
You passionately feel what you want to talk about needs a voice? Start your own #hashtag or thread so you can be heard.
5. "Y’all just hating."
Now, sometimes this one is appropriate, such as when you stumble upon a thread discussing the state of Gabrielle Douglas' hair while she is competing. Other times, this is thrown out because the commenter has a lack of anything intelligent to add to the conversation and a desire to invalidate all naysayers. To quote the great street prophet Common, "If I don't like it, I don't like it/Doesn't mean that I'm hating." If you like something and the person or group you're engaging with doesn't, just state your support and your reasons for enjoying. Or even better, keep scrolling.
6. "It's a conspiracy … "
This one drives me nuts, too, but it actually holds some weight right now. That girl who said Chris Brown pulled a gun on her and she had to run for her life, I mean, after she got her phone back? She wasn't in collusion with the feds to take down Brown, but that situation sounds more and more like a setup. Y’all won this round.
But I still want to say this: Your favorite celeb who suddenly has been humbled and dragged probably isn't the victim of a conspiracy. It's more likely that a series of bad decisions finally caught up with him or her, and it's harder to bury a story in the age of social media and blogs.
7. "It's the woman's fault … "
Sadly, I've come to expect this from men and women alike when it comes to any form of abuse happening to a woman. But the frequency of this argument and how some folk will apply it to just any situation just baffles me.
I was part of a conversation recently about the "media's emasculation of black men" as inspired by Yung Joc's permed hair and Young Thug's album cover. I don't get the rationale, but I read through the comments to understand the perspective. I stopped when I got to a guy blaming man-perms and men in dresses on women. Apparently, women like and encourage these expressions, and men want to attract women, so if women didn't encourage it, men wouldn't do this.
Huh? Young Thug wants to dress up like Scarlett O'Hara and that's my fault? Naw. That grown man decided to wear that dress. And if he's happy in it, I'm happy for him. But wearing that dress is solely on him.
I find often that it's the most "I am man, hear me roar, let me lead"-type guys that refuse to hold other men accountable for anything. It's always, "A woman made him do it." And I always wonder if they realize how weak it makes men sound. Like, if everything you do is because of a woman, you're a follower. Just get out the way, stop yelling about submission, and just let the folks who are already leading go on and do what they do without all the complaining.
Bonus: "You're a Negro bed wench."
This one is reserved for black women who dare to call themselves feminists and/or use words like "privilege" and "misogynoir" and/or don't rush to defend black men who have found themselves in a media scandal. if you believed the 60 women who accused Cosby of nefarious sexual conduct, thought Nate Parker was anything less than completely innocent or have expressed an unwillingness to attend an R. Kelly concert, you may have found this comment in your social media mentions.
This is a clear sign of a person who hates black women. There is no reasoning with the speaker, usually a man. Just block and report him for harassment. You're probably not the first person to whom he's said it. Maybe with enough complaints, the social media platform will ban his account and you'll be the last.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.