MAY | 2018 | ESSENTIALS
What does it mean to be offensive? It doesn’t seem to take much these days. Even now as we’re working to wrap this month’s round of updates. we see Issa Rae has made headlines for suggesting that black women with a college education should “join forces in love, marriage, and procreation” with Asian men because both groups are considered to be at the bottom of the dating pool. Additionally, the mastermind behind HBO’s Insecure wrote that Filipinos are “like the blacks of Asians”.
While Rae and her comments were the furthest things from our minds at the time this piece was originally crafted, her current situation fits into this month’s Essentials like no one’s business. Being offensive isn’t always cool, but it is, at times. necessary.
Now what we’re not about to do is to act as apologists for things that are downright ignorant; because no matter what, there’s no excuse for anyone to not to get their teeth knocked out because they think it's cool to run around calling us a bunch of girls, niggas, and fags. But what we will do is to try to elevate your mind to a plane of existence where being offensive doesn’t always have to result in acts violence (especially since we just covered that in this month’s Love & Relationships ).
So again, what does it mean to be offensive? An easier question to answer is what’s not offensive- because then we can just go for the opposite of that. A few days ago, everyone’s favorite conservative Kelleyanne Conway, after being stopped by TMZ, stated that (deep sigh) “Melania Trump is such a superior and excellent First Lady” and that “This country is so lucky to have her,” Now we all know how we feel about Michelle Obama and the fact that this bi--...(deep sigh) and the fact that this conservative white woman in America has a different opinion than the majority of you reading this should not be taken offensively, and here’s why.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and just because you might not see eye to eye with the opinion of a woman like Conway doesn’t mean you should be offended. At the end of the day, her opinions are hers and hers alone.
We know we said we were just going to list the opposite of whatever examples we used and, the opposite of an opinion is a fact, and there’s never any reason to get offended by those- unless you work for Fox news.
Jordan B Peterson, in a recent appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, was introduced with a clip where he, in a game of wit against a Channel 4 correspondent was asked why he felt that his right to freedom of speech trumped a trans person's right to be offended.
Peterson responded with the most articulate answer he could by stating that “In order to be able to think you have to risk being offensive”. Jordan backed his statement by using the very conversation he was engaged in as an example.
“You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It's been rather uncomfortable.”
You don’t have to think unless you actually have a problem. We do this at least once a day, but the chances of us paying attention to are slim to none. Jordan further solidified his stance by stating that anytime you’re in a situation where you’re trying to discuss something that’s difficult the probability that one of the two people involved in the conversation won’t be offended is zero. Imagine that.
Issa’s problem is that she thinks that Filipinos are the black people of Asians. Many have found this statement offensive, but have done so without engaging her in the conversation which would have given her the opportunity to think differently-or not (because word on the Filipino curb is that she’s not too far from the truth).
The same can be said for all of us. We have to allow ourselves the opportunity to be offensive so that we can be given the chance to think and learn. We haven’t checked the threads yet, but we can almost guarantee that Issa will issue a public apology to quell the masses and the only thing she’ll learn by doing this is how not to write things that will ruffle someone’s feathers. Sadly, that’s not the lesson.
When it comes to either being offended of offensive there’s one thing we should all understand and that is that both are personal. Another thing we should work to understand is the difference between being offensive and being disrespectful, where being offensive is what it is unless it is intentional, which is where the disrespect comes in.
An example of this can be found in the way the word “girl” is used within the community. There are those of us who don’t mind being addressed as such in good company, while others find the use of the term offensive.
In this instance, we’re presented with the opportunity to learn, where Jack calls John “girl” and John tells Jack that he doesn’t like to be addressed as such. Jack has offended John and has been advised accordingly. All is and will be forgiven up until Jack calls John “girl” again because now Jack is being disrespectful.
Another (very) important part of this is that while we should strive to offend or disrespect others, we should also work to ensure that we’re not allowing others to make us feel offended or disrespected...for long. We can either choose to disregard the offense or work to correct it, but either way, we shouldn’t take it personally. The same can be said for disrespectful behavior- either address it with the intent to correct it or move on.
Sooner or later we’re all going to find ourselves at the receiving end of an offense, and even if we don't we'll eventually end up offending someone. It takes a strong will and a solid knowledge of self to keep from responding in a less than subtle way. Such, our goal, as gentlemen is not to mirror the offense, but to seek to correct it. In the event that the offense persists to the point of disrespect, we must do our very best to rely on our ability to mind our own business if none of the suggestions we offer below fail miserably.
What to do when you offend
Apologize for what you said, don’t NeNe Leaks it. Many times people say things without knowing the impact that it has on the people or person they’ve said it to. Apologize and ask for forgiveness but don’t you dare beg for it because sometimes the people we offend take the offense so personally that they don’t allow themselves the opportunity to teach us why the thing we said or did is offensive.
If you don’t know by now how easy it is to offend someone in 2018, you’ve been living under a rock. Gone are the days when you can playfully use the term ‘girl’, ‘tranny’ and “straight” because they are now words that heavily offend people. While it’s okay that you don’t understand why, what’s not cool is continuing to use these, or any other terms against someone after being informed of how they’re offensive. We should use any opportunity we can to engage the people who we haphazardly offend to learn why what we said makes them feel a certain way. Doing so gives us a perspective and an understanding that could open our minds.
Offer an explanation
This is probably the most helpful thing you can do in any instance you offend someone and is part of you being engaged. While it is always important to understand their side, it's also important that they understand your side as well. The goal here isn’t to justify your actions, but to provide an explanation of why you thought your actions were okay.
What to do when you’re offended
Don’t you ever, and we mean EVER, sit idly by after someone offends you. Sure, there’s a time and a place for everything and while you might not want to immediately address the offense, you don’t want too much time to go by. Be mindful that you’re as compassionate in your approach as you want the person who offended you to be in understanding your case.
Give some consideration to the fact that the offense may have been committed out of ignorance and not intentional. We all fall short of the glory of God at some time or another, so give that some thought before you assume that whatever was said or done was said or done out of malice and not ignorance.
This one might be a challenge, but we’ve got faith in you, Beaux. The absolute best thing to do in any situation that shakes you is to remain calm because the calm mind prevails. Even if we find ourselves face to face with blatant disrespect, we must work to be diligent in remaining calm because again, we don’t have to attend every argument we’re invited to.
We can't guarantee that these options will always work, but if nothing else they're worth a try. All of us have said things we wish we hadn’t said. We all offend people at times and everyone knows what it is like to put a foot in mouth. Doing so is common, but we're hopeful that you'll be able to use this month's Essentials to figure out what it is you can consider doing afterward.
With considerate regards,