Don’t Ask Amanda Seales For a Straw- The Unfortunate Winning Culture Of Meanness

A few days ago in response to the video of a young black McDonald’s employee being attacked in Florida by a white man who became irate in asking for a straw, Actor/Comedian Amanda Seales posted a video explaining her disdain for how the young black men in the video did not react quickly to assist the young lady after the man grabbed her. Mind you, the young lady did whoop the white guy’s ass from here to Sunday, (if you’re reading this on a Sunday, imagine it’s a Wednesday for distance perspective) but according to Amanda, the lack of swift action to defend the young lady was appalling.

Whether or not I agree with Amanda is beside the point of my thoughts here, but I will say this. I know that no one will ride harder for black men than a black woman. I know no one will go harder for black PEOPLE than a black woman. I know that black women are the most powerful force in this world. As a black man I know that no one will go harder for me than my mother and my grandmother who both raised me and to this day still have my back. With most of my close friends being black women, I know they nurture their friendships and their relationships with men and they protect their men.

From this, I can understand Amanda’s disappointment.

We are definitely in a time where it feels like black men are abandoning black women and leaving them to their own devices (see any black man that defends men like R. Kelly).

What’s problematic is not so much Amanda’s stance on the issue as the way she expressed her feelings to people in her comments, particularly other black women.

One woman, Marie McQueen even stated her thoughts in a respectful, non confrontational way saying, “Ms. Amanda I love what you do in both performing arts and black empowerment. However I respectfully disagree with you.” She went on to state her stance that it served the young men in the video better to not get involved as it could have led to their arrest, and we know how it goes with America and black men in jail.

Valid point, to which another young lady agreed.

In her response, Amanda decided to go quite left of respectful (but of course perfectly centered for social media) saying “Ah, so ya’ll the women raising these bitchass niggas. You both sound like two fools who raise timid men.”

My fingers spent so long doing that dance your fingers do when you’re trying to figure out how to respond that the comments were locked by the time I gathered myself.

So you can present your stance on a subject respectfully and complimentary and still get your head chopped off and have your judgment as a possible mother (there was no indication if either of the two women that replied were mothers) questioned?

Good to know.

Of the umpteen different problems with Amanda’s reply, (and the other umpteen problems with the gang of folks encouraging her verbal brow beating) the one that shines most is the irony.

Here you are berating two women in a post you made about STANDING UP FOR BLACK WOMEN.

So black men have to stand up for black women, but black women get to cut down other black women with their words on a social media post?

*Fingers do the thinking dance*

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

I had to go back and read the ladies’ comments again to be sure they didn’t ask Amanda for a straw.

A few years back Rihanna wore a winged dress to an event. This dress inspired a young lady to have a very similar dress designed for her prom. When a photo of the young lady was posted, the memes and insults began, and Rihanna joined in the insults.

*Fingers do the thinking dance*

When asked what would happen if he unknowingly slept with a transgender women, Lil Duval said the woman would “be dying.”

*Fingers do thinking dance more aggressively*

This era of people, particularly celebrities, being reckless in their thoughts, figuratively hemorrhaging in their expressions, and emotionally careless in their replies… Let’s just say my fingers have been dancing so much lately that I think they now each have little six packs.

Not wrinkles. Six packs.

All ten of them.

I would ask when we became so mean, but maybe it’s that we were this mean the entire time and social media is only holding up a brighter light to what was already there.

Scary if this is truly the case.

The online blogs write about it, and the blog television shows report on it. “This star ‘clapped back’ on someone” and this entertainer “beautifully gathered someone in their comments section.”

This is not to say a snarky retort isn’t sometimes warranted. I appreciate Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets where entertainers get to respond on his show to unsolicited negative tweets that have been aimed at them.

A personal favorite would be a mean tweet aimed at Halle Berry that said her breasts were lopsided, to which Halle replied, “Well as you get older, that’s what happens when they’re real. “

Gabrielle Union has had to defend herself recently against those who are choosing to be infuriatingly mean to her because they are uneducated on the topic of surrogacy. Her replies have been very direct, but still respectful in their execution.

But it’s being mean for the win, and it is even encouraged in a way.

Wendy Williams has built a career on being entirely horrible and disrespectful to people.

Pick any reality show and the big moments are the fights and the mean quotes that people can’t wait to use on each other and create GIFs out of.

Social media timelines from Instagram to Facebook all feature comment sections that look like the little bodies of water our favorite childhood cartoon characters would fall into. Full of alligators ready to bite, snap, and tear through anything that comes close.

What’s more, you can apparently be a well-rounded asshole and be the President of the United States.

Maybe I’m just mean adverse. Growing up, insults were hurled at me the way they fly out of Donald Trump’s Twitter account: often and furiously.

From this I try to be careful with people’s feelings (sometimes to my detriment). I don’t always get it right I admit, but damn it, I try.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m direct when I need to be, but I’m not in the habit of cutting other people down, because that would hurt me more than the person I’d be trying to hurt.

Why are people not more willing to talk and express themselves in ways that encourage conversation and not cattiness?

I get it. Being nice isn’t always the way to go. Sometimes you need to be extremely direct to get your point across.

Guess what?

There is a such thing as the skill to be direct and if not nice, at least respectful of the feelings of others. You don’t always have to be a jerk to get what you want, or to get your point across.

The desire for emotional carnage in this society is completely rattling.

These days folks are standing in their corners ready to fight, only coming together in the ring to exchange blows.

Not to grow or learn or heal. Only to fight.

Each landing blow feels like a victory. Each cutting comment that is applauded feels like mastery. Meanwhile the emotions of others are bloodied and bruised.

It feels like healing because it feels good to beat up other people.

All good feelings aren’t healing. All beat up people don’t deserve it.

Some people get in fights they didn’t even ask for as a result of an instigator that is really looking for internal healing.

Amanda Seales didn’t know if the women she addressed with her insensitive response had male children, had lost male children to violence or could even have children. Both women that approached her were respectful in their thoughts.

Amanda wanted a fight so that she could get some immediate gratification that would stand in the place of the healing she needs.

I get that Amanda is a comedian, and comedians can in some instances get a pass for being crass when it’s funny, but to just blatantly disrespect strangers speaks more to someone’s mean nature or unwillingness to deal with their trauma than it does to the person trying to get a point across.

Lil Duval clearly had no idea of the growing number of transgender women that are being killed when they reveal to men they are interested in or dating the truth about their gender.

Rihanna had no idea if the young lady she chose to help insult was dealing with depression or suicidal as more and more we are seeing young people take their own lives over cyber bullying.

Celebrities in particular should not get a pass in being disrespectful just because of who they are.

Go ahead. Call me sensitive, call me corny. It’s OK. I’ve got thick skin.

I also know how to be strong without being rude, and kind without being weak.

Yes, that statement further proves my corniness

What happened to being caring and loving and kind to each other? What happened to actually having feelings?

That entire conversation with Amanda and those women could have went an entirely different way. If Amanda was truly concerned about educating people, she would have carried out her comments in a way that may have encouraged further conversation and thought on a seriously relevant issue.

She instead let her need to fill her ego draw in people that encouraged the way she “checked” the women she insulted.

She did this under the guise of being “.38 hot” she said.

As I say, you get more bees with honey, and you get more flies with bullshit.

Because being “.38 hot” is always a good excuse to be reckless.

Just ask any police officer that has killed an unarmed black man.

Oh right, they don’t say they’re “.38 hot”. They say they “feared for their lives”.

Anywho.

Caring is hidden behind likes and the desire for social media attention, which rarely ever comes from being humble, nice and thoughtful, or at least respectful.

People don’t want to heal from their own issues, so they instead deflect deflect deflect. You see comments like “This is the way I am” and “Fuck feelings” and “I’m an asshole so too bad if you don’t like it”.

Did I mention Donald Trump already?

I’m going to go a little deep here, so go ahead and call me Iyanlo Vanzant.

We are all hurting, damaged, traumatized or have been in some way negatively affected by something. The healthy thing to do is to deal with the things that have negatively impacted us in our lives, but this requires a lot of work on the inside. It requires a lot of self inspection, facing your own bullshit, and actually being honest with yourself.

To the average person, anything that has anything to do with work on self just simply isn’t going to happen because it’s quite scary.

It’s easier to hop online and cuss a few people out in the name of either being mad or “being myself”. It’s easier to post selfies and nude pictures and watch the likes pile in.

It’s easier to go with the good feelings of cutting others down or getting online approval because of the immediate gratification.

There is absolutely no immediate gratification in doing work to make yourself a better, more well rounded person. That work is painful and results take time.

But the results are well worth the effort.

So what’s the moral of all this?

First, don’t ask Amanda Seales for a straw. Matter of fact, if you’re a fan of hers, just avoid her online all together to be safe.

Next, while being mean can feel absolutely amazing and resolute, it is in fact toxic and does nothing for self healing even if it feels like it does. It will also eventually push away the people around you that you care about.

The results of true self inspection, though long and arduous, will far outweigh the immediate gratification of acting out of our issues.

Last. There is actually nothing wrong with being nice or being firm and direct while being respectful. It doesn’t always feel good or fun. It doesn’t always get likes or attention or applause, but being nice is a rare thing that actually makes the world a better place.

So let that other person in on the highway. Use your signal light. Disagree with others in a way that endears them to your reasoning instead of impeding the opportunity to gain new perspective by being an asshole. Compliment people.

BE NICE!

Or at least don’t be mean.

Writer of life, Actor, Host/Comedian, and Spoken Word Artist. The last great Atlanta native.

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