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I've Accepted That I Will Always Be Misunderstood
Prior to writing my book in 2020, I wrote an incredibly long Facebook post detailing a variety of statistics and then at the end gave a very brief conclusion based on the statistics that I researched. These were statistics revolving around race in a variety of areas and this was done very purposefully.
This was mere weeks after George Floyd’s death and the emotional temperature was abnormally high and irrational. What I wanted to do was not inject emotions but facts, to give people something to think about.
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The dialogue about life in America as a black person was beyond perverse and ridiculous. All I wanted to do was bring the relatively small amount of followers I had on Facebook back to reality.
This attempt was mostly met with praise and thanks but there were a select few who were infuriated with me, one of them being an older extended family member. They demanded a phone call with me, to which I agreed.
The conversation initially started off calm but quickly escalated to accusations of manipulating numbers to paint a narrative that white supremacists use. This was baffling, as 98% of the post was simply numbers with my brief conclusion being based on numbers.
I asked if she thought I supported white supremacists. She at first avoided answering but eventually answered “Yes!” when I repeated my question. “Well, then there is nothing to discuss then if you feel that way,” I replied. This resulted in a brief shouting match with a person I’d never raised my voice to in my life and had lots of respect for.
To their credit, they apologized to me the next day after they “prayed on it” but I haven’t spoken to them since.
I tell this story because it was an additional lesson in my life: you have no control over how people interpret your intentions. My innocent and intentionally emotionless post about race was quickly interpreted as being motivated by wanting to rub elbows with white supremacists.
I try to learn from unfortunate situations in my life and despite the fracturing of our relationship, it prepared me for my public career. Perception is king and no matter how hard I try, the king will rule over my intentions.
I can deal with nameless and faceless people calling me names and insulting me because they have no real impact on my life, but it’s difficult sometimes when it’s the people who are close to you who don’t care to actually understand you.
I’ve been on Fox News, so I must be this hardcore right-wing Trumper. The truth is that I never voted for Trump and question if I would even do it this time around if he would become the nominee. Last year, I even wrote for a piece in the NY Post expressing my preference for DeSantis over Trump (without disparaging Trump... I maintain fairness). However, discovering that was of no concern to them.
I must be a Republican sycophant who will do everything possible to defend his side. The truth is I’ve voted Republican once in my life and criticize Republicans and conservatives all the time. Many of my articles in Epoch Times are me overtly criticizing the right and their thought processes.
And of course, the most disingenuous is that “I hate black people” and I say things to cater to a white audience. What things exactly do I say? Well, they don’t know but it just “feels” that way. Based on what? Assumption and perception.
If they cared to understand me, they’d see I’ve done countless interviews defending black Americans because the media always portrays us as victims in desperate need of saving by white people and the government. I talk about how we are just as capable as anyone else and not feeble. To me, that’s the real “pro-black” position.
They think you’re only saying something because they’re paying you rather than you’re being paid because you believe these things and you’re talented enough to express your beliefs coherently.
It’s unfathomable for them to believe that I’ve turned down article opportunities because I had no interest in the topic or didn’t agree with a certain stance.
It’s one thing to think someone is malevolent from a distance, like someone you see on television, because you lack access to information about that person. But it’s another thing when you have their cell phone number and can ask them directly, yet you refuse to.
It’s also disheartening when this person has a lot to say about you when you’re not around but when you show up they’re as silent as a church mouse.
But I’ve accepted that people are more likely to validate their perceptions than to challenge them and that sometimes they need a villain to rail against. For some people, this politically moderate, mild-mannered, and polite by default person conjures the ire of people who barely care to understand him.
I learned my lesson years ago and while all of this is unfortunate, I accept it as a reality. At the end of the day, the person who hates me is the only person with a problem.
I’m happy and their disapproval won’t slow down my happiness. They can continue to lose sleep over me because I’m not losing any over them.
I will always be misunderstood and I’m cool with that.