Today, I pay homage to Susan Bearman's 2KoP (Two Kinds of People) contest in which the entrant points out the differences in two types of people. I entered with my I Pee In The Shower post, which remains my most read post so far. I wrote it specifically for the contest and nervously posted it as a blog entry as well. I expected a firestorm of response... against my decision to pee in the shower and the fact that I would talk about it. I received very little storm and instead received a shocking response... support! However, life doesn't always roll that way.
I now present to you my version of the 2KoP:
3KoP - Three Kinds of People - Cindy Brown style, cyber version...In my view, there are three types of people in the blogosphere:
Which one are you? The winning entry in the 2KoP was Norine Dworkin-McDaniel who wrote an edgy essay titled Circumcision Decision about the difference in opinion she and her husband had on the subject of circumcising their son and the process they went through to get to an eventual decision. It was a funny piece, very well written, and Norine and I became fast online friends as a result of the contest. Norine received a firestorm, a hailstorm, and a fire and brimstone storm for her essay.
I didn't read the horrid comments Norine told me about, but I noted this unfortunate event in my mind and thought, "Oh, Lord, it's coming. I'm going to get blasted for a post eventually too." So when I did my post about going to black church last week and loving it (and yes, I'm still going to call it that), I knew that could be the one. All day, I thought about what had happened to Norine Dworkin-McDaniel. I said several things that could be attacked in my post if it fell in front of the wrong eyes. But who would attack me? The racists? The Republicans? The God bashers? The alcohol prohibition supporters?
I didn't know who, but I knew that somehow, I was probably going to get Dworked. I was going to get a Dworking, I just knew it! Someone was going to crucify me like they did Norine Dworkin-McDaniel for her post on a subject I have no opinion on, since I have had no boys of my own. I got home at the end of the day after my black church post went live and [insert Twilight Zone music] found Norine's latest post waiting in my inbox, Strangers - Extremely Rude and Incredibly Kind which included this heartbreaking paragraph:
"For circumcising my child — daring to make light of it — I was called evil. A horrible mother. A vapid bitch. A baby mutilator. An emasculator of men. A disgrace to my country — and apparently to all Jewish people too. One of the many rabid commenters who likened circumcision to female genital mutilation wrote that he wished I’d “get kicked in the vagina so hard I’d need my clitoris removed.” I’m not sure that’s the best statement he could make against authentic genital mutilation, but so be it."
I couldn't believe what people said to her! I was immediately embarrassed by the human race, incredulous that they could be so unkind to another human being with such ease. I e-mailed my new friend and told her I was bracing for my own inevitable Dworking. It didn't come. It didn't happen. And then, BAM! Just like that, I got Dworked. Thankfully, it was only a mild Dworking and Norine was kind enough to give me lots of advice on how to handle it if things got nasty, but they didn't.
I had plenty of people who completely got the meaning of my post, which was that I tried a new church that was out of my cultural comfort zone and I loved it. My true fans knew my intent was good and not condescending and showered me with lovely comments congratulating me for my willingness to explore something new. Those are my "Lovers". I've always subscribed to the philosophy of "make love, not war," and these people are definitely on my side of the combat zone.
Before even promoting my post much, I had contacted a dark-skinned friend (heck, I'm not sure what it's okay to call him anymore) and asked for his feedback on my post. Was it okay for me to refer to it as "black church," I asked, or is African-American more acceptable? His response was this:
Cindy, I personally prefer Black to being called African American. If you dropped me off in Africa I wouldn't know where to go!! Also, Africans from Africa look down on Blacks born in America in many instances. But the main thing is...I'M AMERICAN!! I would have to go back many generations to find an ancestor who wasn't born on American soil. So guess what. I'm American!
Glad you love the church. Black Church is fine! It is much more upbeat and spirited than a traditional "White" church. Especially if you at a Holy Ghost rolling church where they get to praising and the organist get the praise music going!!
I felt confident that I would not be blasted and might possibly avoid a Dworking for calling it black church. I felt love from the comments people were leaving and thought, "Great, they get me - they really get me! I didn't tick anyone off after all!"
Enter the "Hater."
No, it wasn't an Obama hater, nor a God hater, not an alcohol hater... but an African-American. This woman was mad that I had referenced having "black friends" even though my dark-skinned friend told me he prefers black to African-American. She said many other things that made it sound like I said things I didn't say, misinterpreted how I was poking fun at myself in the post by calling myself, "whitey," and made it very clear that she was upset with my post.
I wanted to fire back at her with all sorts of verbal ammunition and use a comparison of asking how you would differentiate black chocolate as opposed to white chocolate without calling them by color, but then I came back to my senses and laughed a little at myself. My mother once told me, "Cindy, if you fire back in a situation where someone is talking bad about you, then you are just lowering yourself to their level." I haven't always been able to follow that advice in my lifetime, but the words and lesson stuck in my head.
The point is that with haters, you can't win. Don't even bother getting upset. No matter what you say, someone is going to take offense to it somehow and they will angrily tell the world about it. I could say that rainbows are wonderful and some hater would point out that it's the symbol for being gay. I don't care if it is! I like rainbows. And furthermore, I have gay friends, atheist friends, black friends, Wiccan friends, Jewish friends, black family members, religious friends, tall friends, party rockin' friends, straight laced friends, hick friends, rich friends, poor friends, and friends of probably every label under the sky!
My hater was kind enough to name herself "Unsubscribing" (her anonymity didn't work, by the way... I know who you are) when commenting and then started talking about me in third person instead of directly, indicating that she probably was writing a blog post about how awful I am and posting it on her own site. I hope her readers like it. I remain who I am with no apologies.
Also, her unsubscribing trend apparently didn't catch on. I gained readers instead. Perhaps I do have a new "holy roller" (as another commenter put it) contingency. That term does not offend me, by the way. Some people refer to religious people in that way and that's just how it is. I do try to be holy (not to be confused with "holier than thou") and I do sometimes roll in a holy way, so perhaps it's fitting. Offending me is not going to be easy. I am a writer and these things come with the territory with me putting my life out there for all to read.
The term "holy roller" was used by my "Debater." I honestly didn't take it in a negative way, but I guarantee you, somebody out there somewhere hates that term and would be so offended to be known as such. I've been labeled before and plenty, sometimes justifiably so, sometimes completely so dead wrong. Either way, I lived.
I like my debaters. They get, like commenter Lynne Favreau, that a writer deserves a respectful tit-for-tat. Lynne gave me wonderful feedback on what she found insensitive or stereotypical, giving me encouragement for what she liked, and a friendly slap on the wrist to indicate how I might improve my writing in the future. Bravo, Lynne Favreau, for coming to my defense and at the same time showing the world how to be a grown-up and have an intelligent conversation. I love what Lynne said. All of it, the positive and the critique. I respect you. And thank you for using your real name.
I recently commented to fellow writer, Rachel Thompson (see her blog here http://rachelintheoc.com/), when she commented about being unfairly slammed for her work, that criticism and critique are two totally different things. People who criticize often just mean to hurt you, and being anonymous online makes it all the easier, doesn't it? People who critique are trying to be helpful and are showing you both sides of the coin, what you did right and what could be improved. They are nice about it. They are kind about it. Those are the people I will listen to, my friends. Those are the people writers can learn from. Debaters say it without getting angry. They are controlled and calm. They earn your respect.
So, I'm keeping my Lovers, I'm keeping my Debaters, and I'll let the Hater comment stand to speak for itself (at least one person "liked" the hater comment, so she has peeps too), but I'm letting you know that if things ever do get really nasty on my blog, I will probably delete the comments just because I don't want to put more hatred out in the world. I went back to that church on Sunday. I love the people there. I love the black people there. I love the white people there. I love the wild people there. I love the red-headed people there. Spread the love, spread the love, spread the love, would ya already?