Kenneth L. Hardin: Cowards always look to be offended

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 30, 2024

By Kenneth L. Hardin

Sometimes it’s difficult being me because I purposely don’t fit into a category, a box or anyone’s check-off list. People don’t know how to take me and I do absolutely nothing to make it easier for those who try to define me with their narrow and ill-conceived definitions. The Brotherman says I’m not Black enough and talk white, and the Otherman says I’m too Black and come across as angry. I’m not even the black sheep of my family because I would have to be acknowledged, so they paint me as opaque. My response to all those opposing character assessments is a simple, “whatever.” I’m not immersed in the silly gender identity confusion, pointlessly searching for appropriate pronouns, or concerning myself with whether people feel comfortable with who I am. I gave up the fight a long time ago worrying about how people perceive me based on irrelevant and incidental outward physical characteristics like skin hue. It’s not my cross to bear that people don’t possess the needed intellect to operate beyond something so limiting.

I define people’s responses to who they think I should be as cowardice. Because I’m willing to speak up and out candidly and honestly, it makes some people recoil in fear, clutch their metaphorical pearls, fan their face while partially fainting, and feigning self-righteous indignation while shaking their heads side to side in obvious derision. They’re willing to expend  energy towards me for having the courage to throw a rock and not deny I did it, but they won’t use a minuscule amount of energy to share their own honest opinion. Instead, they’ll cowardly accost me in places like Krispy Kreme, Lowes, Food Lion and restaurants to tell me how much they don’t care for my written opinion. These cowards have even hidden behind their keyboards and sent me hate-filled emails or called my cell phone from blocked numbers to saturate my consciousness with threatening racist rhetoric. I recall receiving an email from one good Christian fella from Davie County, who started out his correspondence assuring me he wasn’t racist. He then proceeded to refer to me as a Ni**er throughout the message. I even received a message from one of my skinfolk, who urged me to stop discussing racism that exists here because, “You’re making it hard for other Black people.” How sad is that? I challenge anyone to go back over the 30 years of my writing for this paper and show me one article where I’ve espoused hate or promoted any form of interracial violence. What cowards are not happy with is I’m willing to expose the inequity and hate that does exist and call out those responsible and others silently complicit.

Everyone believes in the First Amendment if your words match their beliefs. As long as you’re pouring verbal gasoline on a fire that burns deep within their tribal beliefs, you’re a cultural hero. The first time you make those same people have to look beyond their narrow views and think analytically about an issue, you become public enemy No. 1. I’ve worn both the black and white hero hats but care for neither. I’m an equal opportunity offender because idiocy doesn’t come with a skin color. As the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said, “There’s no difference between a black snake and a white snake. They both will bite you.”

It goes deeper than our ethnic composition differences. People don’t listen or read for understanding. All people do now is take in information to find a way to disagree and become offended. I upset the internet recently when I posted my thoughts about CBS Morning News host and Oprah BFF, 70-year-old Gayle King, who posed in a bathing suit for Sports Illustrated. I shared how I thought it was a poor decision, and lawd-a-mercy, folks came at me sideways from all angles calling me out for shaming her because of her age. The angry comments turned into angrier inbox messages with people threatening to delete my page. I encouraged them to follow through saying sometimes the trash needed to empty itself. I told others to simply not read my content if my opinion upset them that much.

As a writer, I don’t apologize or explain anything I offer. But, after a few days of constant anger from women in the septuagenarian army, I responded, “Let me make something clear about the Sports Illustrated Gayle King spread. I really don’t give a damn about a celebrity. But since so many people are trying to convince me that what she’s doing is somehow brave and heroic, let me tell you how I really feel. There’s nothing brave about taking your clothes off for a camera and laying down for others to see. Simple-minded celebrities with no talent and nothing to offer do it all over the internet. It’s just sad Gayle bought into it and sold her soul to be a part of it. Was it necessary to validate herself by getting undressed? Was her ego that fragile and her insecurities running so deep she needed to be seen semi-naked and approved by masses of people? Was her journalistic credentials, integrity and accomplishments not enough? Is the message she wants to send to little Black girls is to not worry about your professional capabilities, just show your as*. She’s no better than a Kardashian. I appreciate mature, confident and classy women of an older age and find them more attractive than young women. I just don’t need to see them in stages of undress to appreciate their beauty.

If you don’t want my unfiltered honesty and prefer things sugarcoated, stop reading me and go to Krispy Kreme.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.