Kenneth L. Hardin: Reluctantly, I’m back online and I haven’t changed
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 13, 2022
For three years after leaving office in 2017, I left the social media merry-go-round and successfully purged all the evil out of my system. Now, I feel like I’m stuck in the scene of the third and worst installment of the Godfather movies where Al Pacino’s character said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.” It’s been a never-ending Broke Back Mountain movie scene since then as I admit to my keyboard, “I can’t quit you.” It started with me writing editorials for newspapers further down south and sharing them with a few friends via email. As people enjoyed them more and more each week, and posted them on their own social media pages, I was inundated with requests to return to social media to share them wider. So, I ripped the band-aid off, deactivated the alarm system protecting my sanity and slowly waded back into the deep murky waters of the internet.
It hasn’t been smooth or peaceful at times because I’m passionate in thought, unapologetic in opinion, unrestrained when my integrity is questioned and callously insensitive to those who engage me in disrespectful dissenting discourse. I don’t always enjoy engaging in written sparring, especially when I’m challenged by an obviously lesser intellectually armed and poorly prepared rival. I have the mindset of an assassin when it comes to defending my position in written response and I take no prisoners. To me, it’s the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to kill a pesky cockroach. When I do indite, I try to pull up, but my problem is I don’t know how to walk away from an issue I’m disrespectfully challenged on.
I get quite a bit of correspondence related to things I’ve said or written. I recognize that’s part of the territory and I welcome it. A writer should never explain or apologize for anything they put out into the universe, and I don’t. The goal is to elicit an emotional thought and boy do people come at me with heightened emotions. Some of the responses I’ve received have been laced with vitriolic messages of hate that contain threats simply because I had the courage to share my opinion. I love dissenting discourse as long as it doesn’t cross over into personal attacks or disparaging remarks based on irrelevant physical characteristics like skin hue. Sadly, that happens a lot. What I’ve found is when people fail to defend their argument with intelligent counter points, they resort to the basest level of attack conversation. Fortunately, my value, ego and self-worth are not tied to someone’s opinion of me, so their words bounce off like I have a protective energy shield around me.
People that don’t understand your creative thought process, and those suffering from cognitive insecurities and inabilities will attempt to place their failings on you. I don’t view it as elitist or arrogant to view someone with a lesser degree of acknowledgment, especially when I can see a demeaning issue with clarity, and address it courageously, but those of weaker intellect and a missing backbone try to persuade you to avoid it. Why must I be expected to travel the path that leads to a higher road paved with docility, compromise, and an imbalance simply to protect the feelings of someone who is either unwilling, unaware or afraid to speak up? People tell me not to burn a bridge because I may have to cross it later. Naw, if that bridge is built on my subjugation or the crossing toll is for me to appear inferior, I will pour gasoline on it, strike a match, and sit down to eat s’mores using the flames as it burns to the ground. If I need to cross it ever again, I’ll risk drowning by swimming under the wreckage from the fire before I allow myself to be disrespected. I refuse to live a life of unequal compromise. I refuse to traverse this course of life bent at the knee offering hollow and shallow responses to the indignities callously perpetrated by a few privileged who see me as inferior. No, I will provide clarity and a lens that shows I will not be seen as subservient in thought or action. I will cause trouble and won’t care to soften it by calling it good trouble. My trouble may be painful for others, but it will be a redemption of the spirit that laid dormant in me for far too long.
I’m back online and I’m keeping my foot on the gas. If my words, that never originate from a place of malicious intent, causes you emotional upheaval, then self-reflection in your life is necessary.
Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a former City Councilmember and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.