I remember a little while back, me and my family was chilling out maxing relaxing all cool. My nephew for most of his life was an only child and only nephew, he’s used to being spoiled, used to being the center of attention but you know how kids get to that annoying stage where they’re oblivious to the fact they aren’t as cute as they think they are, he was right at that line. So while we was hanging out he was doing the most to get our attention, kept changing his outfit to come back where we were. I remember my auntie saying looking like a damn [redacted], we all laughed moreso at the randomness of it all and the fact that my nephew gets really irritated at being the butt of a joke. Laughter subsides and I feel compelled to lob a quick “Don’t say no shit like that no more” (because he might go to school and repeat it, was my reasoning because old black people don’t be understanding shit). And everyone went right back to the game. That conversation started and ended in the room with no proof it ever happened besides me writing it on a fairly anonymous blog. But imagine if my sister posted a picture of him on facebook, my aunt commented on it instead and now some girl who used to sit behind my sister in Algebra II is offended and she screenshots it and shares it on her timeline. Her cousin posts it on Instagram, it works its way to Woke Phi Woke Twitter and next thing you know Bossip is writing an article about how “An Ashy Ankh Auntie dragged to Smithereens on Black Twitter” and now I gotta act like I ain’t see that shit. (Aunties are fair game, she ain’t birth you)
All of this runs through my mind as I think about how or if I should write about the Aziz Ansari story. I’ve spent most of the weekend reading thoughts from both sides. There’s a lot to unpack there, the idea of coercion, enthusiastic consent, conditional consent, extroverts missing social cues, even examining the predatory dating behaviors that Nice Guy™ seems oblivious to. (that last one is still in the maybe pile) But then again, no one wants to hear from a man on this. (Especially YOU, Matt Damon). You can think you are simply being nuanced but easily cross that line into rape apologist and victim blamer. You can defend Aziz and next week 5 more victims can come forward and have you looking stupid. I don’t know what happened. I do know that he didn’t exactly disagree with her account of what happened. I do know he seems too old to be running game on young naive 53 percenters. And that she… [LANDMINE]
In this social media thinkpiece industrial complex age, it’s easy for any and everyone to feel compelled to have an opinion on everything, be offended by everything, ready to defend anything without realizing you’re in public. I’m sure Babe wasn’t trying to end Ansari’s career or win a Pullitzer when they posted the story in the first place. It did force me to look back at my own history and have private conversations with others who also had to. In that regard it’s great that it’s come out. I have also spoken to people privately who agree with the sentiments expressed in The Atlantic and New York Times. Then you think about how triggering it could be to have something you are grappling with be debunked in the The Atlantic and New York Times.
There’s a lot of dialogue that can and should be had about Ansari, but it shouldn’t be done via epigrams and gifs. These are deep sensitive topics and shouldn’t be simplified to pick a side like it’s a Super Bowl prediction, especially loud and publicly. It’s a mistake I made fairly recently. You can know what you meant, your friends can know what you meant, the strangers who may read your thoughts, do not.