There are very few times when I will use my voice as a journalist and my column to respond to my critics directly. The Shirley Q. Liquor campaign being an exception since his supporters took it upon theselves to threaten my life. Often times when I address organizational issues, in particular the Black leadership, I try to address them as a community member who also happens to be a journalist and not make personal attacks. But this isn’t one of those times. Today it is personal.
Last week I penned a column on the increasing irrelevancy of the NAACP and its failure in addressing the Tim “I Hate Gays” Hardaway fiasco. In the same article, I also suggested that the NAACP might benefit from bringing in new blood, so to speak, to help the organization reach younger generations of Blacks.
Well apparently my column ruffled a few feathers at the top because no sooner had my column been released then my boss starts receiving calls from the NAACP leadership complaining about my article.
This in itself is significant because my 9 to 5 job has absolutely nothing to do with my freelance journalism or my first amendment right to free speech and to blog.
It is also significant because this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Last year, after Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union “get together,” I wrote a column criticizing Smiley for ignoring several key issues that had polarized Black voters in recent elections, among them lesbian and gay civil rights. An irate Smiley took the time to find my place of employment and to call me at work to chew me out about how I was “misleading my readers.” He threatened to tell my boss on me who I gladly offered to turn the phone over to, only to have Smiley tell me he’d deal with it later. Also last year the powers that be tried to threaten my position on the board of NBJC after I coined an op-ed on my dissatisfaction with the so called gay leadership of America. They too were unsuccessful in their attempts to try and infiltrate my board.
For the record, I have the right to write about whatever I choose to and it is not a reflection of my boss who happens to be an elected official. I was writing columns before I went to work for him. What strikes me as odd, is that the old guard thinks that they can keep me and my thoughts (which are mine and mine alone) in check by calling my boss and for the sake of a better phrase, “telling on me.” As if he doesn’t read the papers.
This is the reason why there aren’t more voices out in the public arena from young Blacks, because in a round about way, they are silenced. Somehow, those that I obviously offended with my editorial felt that they could get me to shut up by complaining to my boss. Question. When my boss is no longer in office and I am no longer an employee of his, but still writing my opinion columns, who are these same people going to call and complain to then?
To me, the more intelligent approach would have been to just call me up on the phone and to have a discussion about it. Why take it to my boss who has absolutely no influence over what I write about?
I’ll tell you why.
Intimidation pure and simple. And so I have to figure that I’m on the right track if people would go through the trouble of going around me to my “paycheck” to get me to shut up.
I realize that by working for an elected official that I am always going to be a reflection of him. I get that and carry myself in a way that is as much respectful of him as it is me. But at the same, I will always be my own person and in being my own person, I am entitled to my own thoughts and views on Black America and its leadership without intimidation from those who disagree with me.
It’s always been funny to me that we have no problem doing these things to one another but when the mainstream press is racist in their misrepresentation of Blacks and the facts, these same people who are trying to intimidate me have nothing to say. No, they’d rather spend their time trying to figure out how to get little ole’ insignificant me to shut up.
And just to show how much of a lady and a journalist I really am, I made my point again without ever even having to mention the names of my would be oppressors. They know who they are and so do I.