Kenneth L. Hardin: I’m becoming a cranky old man
Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 10, 2022
As a little chitlin’ growing up on the West End, where I still know a few folks by their first name, there was an old lady who lived in my neighborhood. She scared all the kids and alienated many of the grownups with her less than engaging personality. If a ball we were playing with happened to jump that metal fence and land in her yard, we would engage in intense negotiations to see who would go retrieve it. More times than not, she came running out of her front door, grabbed our ball and retreated back into her lair.
As afraid of her as I was as a child, I’m more fearful I’m taking on some of her characteristics as I age. The reason I’m buying into this self-assessment is it seems like my patience and tolerance level is lessening daily. It’s not any aversion to children or trying to curtail their play. My source of irritation stems more from the idiocy of all things adult. I can directly attribute it to a society where access to information and people’s lives are instantaneous and readily available, which leads to sensory overload for me. It’s caused me to morph into a modern-day iteration of that woman from my childhood and become the old dude yelling at people to stay off my cognitive lawn, and stop trampling on the lush grass inside my mind.
I like to be knowledgeable and seek out multiple sources of hard news, irrelevant mind-numbing fare, and I enjoy reading other folk’s thoughts and opinions online. But now it seems like reputable information, clever thought and an informed opinion has been replaced with everything being shared through a meme accompanied by a celebrity who had nothing to do with the message. As my mind worked at its normal functional capacity of overload, I recently began to jot down things that cause me grief and consternation. Twenty minutes later, I had filled two pages and the side margins of a standard size note pad with bullet points of things that irritate me and function as a source of annoyance. So, reach down to the bottom of your pocketbook and pull out a piece of butterscotch candy to eat and indulge this old man for a minute as I share a couple.
I don’t understand what the Black Lives Matter movement message is anymore. I don’t know what the end result goal is or what they’re trying to accomplish. Money has been misused and the message has been hijacked and diluted. Speeches, raised fists, painting murals on streets and other pointless symbolic representations are the misguided focus. I’ll add faux Black outrage, situational and temporary anger, and an equally pointless continuum of wasted efforts focusing on trying to prove racism is still alive and thriving. Don’t we know this?
Why can’t we implement measurable actions to eradicate it instead of continually playing the “woe is me” game? Instead of marching and yelling out “see I told ya,” let’s put strong and definitive reform measures, policy actions, entrepreneurship and wealth building strategies into place. If we vote, we can change local, state and federal laws instead of relying on memes, hashtags and removing monuments as a sign of progress. Skinfolk complain about the condition but are doing nothing to change the trajectory. When you don’t vote, you can’t complain about how your community, condition and plight are ignored.
I love going to the movies, but I’m tired of slave and Civil Rights era fare. Hollyweird studios have a pattern where skinfolk can never be the hero in movies about us. There always must be a sympathetic white person who comes to the aid or rescue, and I’m sick of it. If you feel I’m wrong, think back on the characters and story lines from a few so-called Black movies like “Hidden Figures,” “A Time to Kill,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Help,” “Marshall,” “12 Years a Slave,” “42,” “American Gangster,” “Creed,” “The Long Walk Home,” “Black Panther” and “Django.” OK, is that enough to make my point?
I could go on. Do you need a moon pie and a RC Cola to tide you over as I continue? I question why we have to continually be inundated with movies about the subjugation and brutality of stolen Africans, but never see movies about those that fought bravely on the shores of Africa refusing to be taken, those who attempted to take control of the slave transport ships, those who chose death in an ocean graveyard preferable to enslavement here or those who led slave revolts once they were here, and Africans in America who excelled against odds.
I only covered part of the first page of my list, but I’m done. Y’all can have your ball back now.
Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a former City Councilman and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.