One of the things that I constantly notice while perusing the Internets is that people (myself included) are opinionated as hell. (Actually I noticed this a few years ago but I only decided to write about it the other day, so I’ll stick with that.) Americans are opinionated as hell, which is awesome but when it comes to certain topics you usually can guarantee the responses from the readers are going to be polarizing. This stems from a train of thought based on the idea that all opinions are fine… if they agree with mine.
One of the trends that I’ve noticed as both a reader and commenter on various spots is that many readers put forth concrete and often caustic trains of thought about many of the presented topics. If it’s not their way, then it’s wrong. Not only are you wrong but you’re dead wrong and you need Jesus, a Jewish attorney, and a Choctaw Indian medicine man to prove how wrong you are and to help you atone for the error of your misguided ways. (After they leave your spot the Jewish attorney and the Choctaw medicine man are going to go to a local bar and talk about you behind your back.) I’ve begun to wonder what makes an individual think that he or she is the arbiter of a specific topic. How does one convince one’s self that they have become the end all, be all on whatever is being talked about? Is it a sense of self-importance or delusion? Did they read a few pamphlets somewhere and buy into that ideology, thusly refusing to hear the other side out? I’m puzzled by this behavior and I’m a know-it-all from way back.
There a few topics that will always bring arbiters out of hiding. They possess an uncanny ability, similar to that of buzzards finding carrion, that allow them to sense when a topic they hold near and dear is being discussed. (There’s nothing wrong with passionate debate but you have to listen to the other side’s points. If not, these discussions are called arguments.) Here are just a few topics that I would like to know who get’s to arbitrate. You know just for the sake of clarity. (I confuse easily.)
- Blackness – I’m 32 years old and for at least half of that time I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out who arbitrates what is and isn’t “black”. Are there cultural and geographical exceptions to blackness? I’ve seen folks come down hard on each other when it comes to the arbitration of blackness. There are too many darker-hued folks around the world doing different things with different folks to have one singular definition of what is and isn’t “black”. This is such a complicated topic because there are subsections to the argument. Being bougie, cooning, self-hate (See item number two.), or selling out terms that are usually put forth when the Arbiters of Blackness come out to play. To this day every time I point at Q-Tip he still says “Black is Black!”
- Self-hate – Stop me if you’ve heard this before. So a black woman walks into a salon and some relaxer is placed on her dark tresses… Is this self-hate or did a sister just get tired of f**king dealing with new growth. (I know I’ve stated before that I don’t give a crap about women’s hair but I have girlfriend and two sisters so some of that crap was going to stick.) I’m still not sure how this equates to her hating who she is and where she comes from. The Arbiters of Self-Hate latch on to from everything from speech patterns, who you date, or even what you eat. Whatever to all of this sh*t. Just because someone doesn’t rock the same way that you do doesn’t give you the right of arbitration. (Unless they wear skinny jeans or something then by all means do what you have to.)
- Humor – A funny thing about being funny is that it is a pretty dynamic thing. Things that were once funny to an individual may no longer cause them to laugh. I’m pretty sure that we’ve known for sometime that no two individuals find the same things funny. I don’t think Tyler Perry or Daniel Tosh are funny but there are droves of others who do. On the other hand I think Tichina Arnold and Tina Fey are two of the funniest comedic actresses this side of LaWanda Page but you don’t have agree and I won’t force you too. To some Fozzie Bear was comedic genius but to others he’s just a stupid puppet. (“Wocka wocka wocka!”) Btw, Fozzie along with the rest of the Muppets are f**king riots.
- Hip-hop – I call this the Kris Parker Syndrome. Is there anything more divisive than a conversation about hip hop? If you think talking about blackness and self-hate can devolve a conservation quickly among otherwise intelligent people, then you should try talking about what is and isn’t hip hop with a group of about 20 educated Negroid types. (Actually a score in a spades game may cause more strife than talking about blackness, self-hate, or hip hop but I’m not here to talk about that.) I have no problem saying a hip hop song sucks! I just won’t go as far as saying it isn’t hip hop. “Racks on Racks” is just as hip hop as “Eric B is President”. The quality is far from being equal but alas poor Yorick, it is still hip hop. Wannabe Arbiters of Hip Hop mar the debate by taking shots at sub-genres, age groups, and geographic regions. This causes the whole conversation to go left because there is always some Southerner or some dude from Queensbridge willing to take it there.
- Patriotism – Initially I thought people started challenging other’s patriotism after 9/11. The brief moment of American unity that arose in the wake of a disaster was quickly eroded due to the wave of political polarization that swept the nation. After much thought I’m sure those who sought to question the patriotism of others have always been around. Arbitrating patriotism is as American as sweet potato pie. The screaming has been a little louder at various points throughout our history but the screaming has always been here. What they’ve always failed to realize is that just because someone views things differently than you or has had vastly different experience here they can still be patriotic. Citizen A may like to think things over before he goes for the napalm, but napalm may be Citizen B’s go to move but neither has any right to challenge how the other feels about his or her homeland. Personally, I think Citizen B should be easy with the use of jellied fire but sometimes it is necessary but more often than not it’s not the best solution.
Are there topics that have caused you to wonder who exactly arbiters are? These are my fearsome five. Are yours religion or faith? Food? Good taste? Bad taste? I may think too much about the wrong things but I’m sure we’ve all thought about this at least once. Tell it.
Vaya con Dios.