Dear Killer Mike: You Do You, No Matter What

Dear Mike:

Like a lot of people, I saw clips of your interview with Colion Noir on NRATV the other day and all the ensuing responses. I’ve been watching the backlash from fans and the black community who claim you “sold out” by sitting down for a rational discussion about your civil rights with another black man.

I’m glad you clarified things but it makes me a bit angry that people were so condescending to you, as if you’re so stupid that you just didn’t know who you were sitting down with. That’s offensive. You’re not even close. In allowing that one dialogue, you already know more about the organization and the people it represents than any of the people who are calling you a chump. At least you did the legwork, know what I mean?

But I don’t blame you for retreating from that interview, even though it looked to me like an intelligent and thoughtful exchange. It can feel weird to suddenly become a poster-child for the “opposition” by mistake. You immediately, and rightfully feel misunderstood. It must be disorienting for a performer who is used to being desired and adored by fans who appreciate your art.

As a black woman in conservative media, I long ago stopped obsessing over the hate mail and insults and threats. It comes with the job and is mostly just background noise at this point. But again, that’s my job. It most certainly isn’t yours. You have every right to be bothered by all of this nonsense.

I guess I just wanted to tell you that even though the hate seems louder than anything right now, there are many people who aren’t Right and White who heard your words and breathed a sigh of relief. The reason your interview took off is because you spoke for some folks who don’t have a voice. I’m sure you can remember the first time you heard your favorite artist or celebrity or someone you admired speak your own experience out loud. It felt good!

“Yes! Someone gets it!” you probably said (but I’m sure you made it sound much cooler than my nerd-speak).

The positivity you received was largely based on that feeling for a lot of people, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Those who just wanted to use your words as a tool to hammer home a point get the most press because that’s what we do in the press – we amplify squeaky wheels. It’s a lot “sexier” than reasoned debate.

I think what saddens me the most about the backlash is that in our rush to scold you for letting yourself “be used” (which I do not think you did), the very valid points you made on behalf of the black community were lost. People were more concerned about the image than the truth.

We really do need to have a larger discussion about why a mainstream media that claims to care so much about diversity and oppression willfully ignores the tragedies happening within black communities across our country. We do need to talk about why the tears of a white mother seem so much more engaging to the tv talking heads than the tears of a black mother. We do need to talk about the unique issues black Americans face in their everyday lives and how the protection of our civil rights (and don’t forget, the Second Amendment is a civil right) is still a looming issue in our homes and families.

We really do need to talk about the freedom to make our own choices, even if they’re choices elite white folks with Harvard degrees don’t understand. We really do need to talk about how our civil rights protect us from “well-meaning” white people who have never taken the time to actually get to know any of the people of color they claim to stand for.

You brought up all kinds of interesting and necessary questions that have just been lost in the temper tantrum of social media trolls, and I find that desperately disappointing.

I don’t expect you to deal with these pressures the same way I do, as I’ve already said. You have a brand and a livelihood to protect and who am I to tell you how to do that?

But I’m 43 years old, and I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to live up to the expectations of other people who have made judgments about me based on no other factors but how I look. I spent much of my youth apologizing for myself, as if I were some deformity of nature.

When I became a mother and began to take the idea of serving others more seriously, I think that is when I finally started to understand that other people aren’t required to understand my choices or my life. Other people aren’t required to approve those things. My successes and failures will not come from the outside. They will be a direct consequence of my own decisions, my personality, my resilience, my faith, my perseverance.

In short, I finally figured out that I never need to apologize for myself to make people like me. They do or they don’t.

And I guess that’s the advice I wanted to share with you. I have no advice for you on how to deal with all the hatred and the weird press, but as a person I say,

YOU DO YOU!

You’re a successful man with a brain and a heart and you should never need to apologize for that. Some people will “get you”…others won’t. But it isn’t your job in life or in business to make sure every person perfectly understands every nuance of your opinions and personality. Furthermore, when you spend too much time doing that, you validate the haters who are really just jealous of your success. None of those people will be there for you in the dark times, none of them were there for you on the way up. They’re faceless social media mouths. They know nothing about you, who loves you, who you love, who you help and serve, where you’ve failed…nothing.

Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to clarify some things and ease the rage. I just wanted to let you know that you have no obligation to do so. Your talent and dedication to your family will ultimately speak for themselves and sometimes it’s just better to let them do just that. You owe no one anything – no conservative, no liberal, no fan…maybe the wretched tax collector but we’ll all forever owe that d***head.

As a fan and a mother, let me just say what you said in that interview really resonated with me and I also gained a new level of respect for you for doing what too many people refuse to do these days – sitting down for a respectful exchange with someone you might disagree with.

As a grown woman, let me just say again:

YOU DO YOU! You never need to apologize for the glories of you!