I honestly did not expect this.
After I posted “Black Like @KirstieAlley: Twittering About Race with the Fat Actress” yesterday, I manually sent out one tweet, at 5:55 pm ET, announcing the posting. (My blog automatically sent out another one 45 minutes later.) I then left the house to take care of some business, getting back a little over two hours later. I went to my computer, and logged on to Twitter.
Seemingly hundreds of Kirstie Alley’s followers were aflame. (I knew this, because Tweetdeck was picking up mentions of my name.)
Why? Because Alley, right, who I’d expected would simply ignore what I’d written, had instead responded via seven tweets. Together, her notes composed the following message:
WOW…Mr. Harry Allen is very full of himself..and apparently very interested in not having direct communication but instead using me to promote his column. After I tried to directly work things out with Mr. Allen with zero response, I did what all smart tweeters do. I unfollowed him and wrote him off as an opinionated person unwilling to confront me directly. If I am what he accuses me of, he should simply do the same and unfollow me or block my scary ass. I read his boring arcticle and found it unfounded. In the future Mr. Allen, just write back and state your case. Out of my 65,000 followers, you were the only one offended. Your right of course. By taking your grievance public, and stating you could CRUSH ME WITH RHETORIC, you have no respect from me. And your ego is trippin dude if you really believe you can crush me or any one else with your witty rhetoric. Will this be in your next blog? I hope not, it is way too uninteresting. Sincerely.K
She then signed off, saying, in an eighth tweet:
HELLO..just running off to dinner…tsk tsk..should never write personal wrath letters publicly..sorry..just shootin from the hip…lol
So am I. I hold it to be true that the chief weapon of a racist is deceit. I’m not saying that Kirstie Alley is a racist. I would never call any white person a racist. But Ms. Alley has made some statements, above, that I suspect are not true, as well as others that are profoundly illustrative of how race works.
Now, one thing she did say, with which I do agree, is that yesterday’s piece was boring, though I disagree that it was uninteresting. (They’re not the same thing.)
I really think it could have used another edit. While, on one hand, I wanted to talk about my internal process—perhaps as a way of working through it—I didn’t want to basically write…I dunno, a car repair manual, right. Between the pressure to get it out, and my assurance that what I had to say was worthwhile, I felt like it would work better than, perhaps, all of it did. That’s the risk, certainly, of blogging, but not an excuse.
So, Ms. Allie, please: As a person whose written professionally about race for nearly 25 years, and lived under it almost twice as long, I assure you that I have better work. I’d refer you to any of the links in the original piece: “Fight the White Rap History Rewrite, “White People and Hip-Hop,” and “The Unbearable Whiteness of Emceeing: What The Eminence of Eminem Says About Race,” none of which, I’ll venture, you gave a second glance.
However, if you don’t like rap music, MEDIA ASSASSIN pieces like “Trans-Coon-ers,” “Fine-Tuning the Racial Contract,“ “‘I Didn’t Notice It Was You’: How the Oscars Walked Right Past Whoopi,” “Jeremiah Wright for U.S. President,” and one of my all-time favorites, “Are There Racists at Old Navy, or Do They Think That We’re Dummies?,” above, should provide short jolts of intense, compelling reading.
I’ve long known another truism, however, and it’s this: Under racism, any criticism a racist suspect (i.e., a white person) makes about non-white people, particularly in matters “concerning race,” is always better made of white supremacy, itself, as a system.
“Black people are hostile,” right. There’s no system yet devised more hostile than race.
“Black people are lazy.” There’s no system yet devised more lazy than white supremacy. (Think about it: The planetary minority, white people, decided how to treat the world’s majority, non-white people, in all areas, based on chroma—color—as opposed to ability or potential. If people picked race cars, industrial machines, or jet engines that way, the global body count, daily, would rival D-Day’s.)
Even the charge that my piece is boring…well, racism is boring, especially for Black people because, unlike white people, we bear it, but don’t derive any benefits from it. It’s a grind: Day in, day out, the same old tricks, deceitful actions, white faux pas, right, and dangerous Caucasoid character shortcomings.
Anyway, to the Kirstie Alley’s response: (This will be to the point.)
“WOW…Mr. Harry Allen is very full of himself..and apparently very interested in not having direct communication but instead using me to promote his column. After I tried to directly work things out with Mr. Allen with zero response, I did what all smart tweeters do. I unfollowed him and wrote him off as an opinionated person unwilling to confront me directly.“
Alley, right, keeps saying she attempted to contact me directly and work things out. (Over time, I’ve seen many white people do this, or claim this, under similar circumstances: The communication “check” got lost in the mail.) As well, in two tweets to one of her followers, she says
“Thank you for your lovely defense of me. My only issue was that I earnestly tried to PRIVATELY handle the scene to no avail. Twas purely opportunity Mr. Allen was looking for, with no intention to remedy one on one…or in a public forum..I thank you
I can’t prove her actions, but I suspect that this is a canard.
I tweeted Ms. Alley directly, under her name, as she did me. Those tweets are reproduced, in their entirety, in yesterday’s post.
As well, Alley sent me one direct message, below, before I criticized her comments:
You now have the totality of our correspondence.
Things get lost in cyberspace all the time, so, perhaps she did repeatedly attempt to reach me, and there was a failure. But unless there was, or a technical problem at Twitter, my tweets arrived at her account and sat there, face up. She could have addressed them at any moment over the past 2.5 weeks, and I would have responded with as much, or as little, detail as she desired.
As for using Ms. Alley to promote MEDIA ASSASSIN, it’s a disingenuous, self-important claim. She wrote to me, it was public, and widely commented upon. I wrote back, it was public, and what she’d written was the subject of what I wrote. If I was just trying to promote myself, why didn’t I send links to the gossip sites? Why did I send out only one tweet?
Anyway, if I really wanted to merely promote MEDIA ASSASSIN based on attacking white celebrities, I’d go after Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, or Kevin Spacey, right, all of whom are on Twitter, and all of whose followers outnumber Alley’s by orders of magnitude.
“If I am what he accuses me of, he should simply do the same and unfollow me or block my scary ass.”“
I’ve not accused Kirstie Alley of being anything, and I don’t think she’s scary.
“I read his boring arcticle and found it unfounded.”
STOP. This is really interesting.
I’ve already gone over the “boring” part. The use of the word “unfounded” is deep, though.
Because, like her original statement, above, 1) it’s something white people have said for centuries concerning race, and 2) it matches white responses to Black objections against white supremacy during that same time period.
Black people know, from lifetimes of experience, that one of the chief difficulties in bringing any charge of racism against a white person is being believed or found credible. When Rodney King was beaten by police in 1991, right, it was often said in our neighborhoods that, had George Holliday not videotaped King’s assault, his claims would have been dismissed out of hand. Indeed, the fact that a white jury could look at the videotape and agree that a call for criminal penalties was unfounded was, itself, the spark that lit the L.A. holocaust a year later.
Black people are used to their histories, feelings, knowledge, beliefs, even their existences being denied and discounted. So, having a white woman blithely dismiss my 1,882 words with nine of her own—“I read his boring arcticle and found it unfounded”—bears echoes of everything from the Dred Scott decision and the Scottsboro Boys to the Susan Smith case.
That is, Kirstie Alley supposedly read my piece and “found it unfounded”? What parts? All of it? Meaning, what: That she didn’t send those tweets? That kokupuff didn’t twitter me? That Black people don’t resent comments like hers? That I didn’t have the thoughts I reported? What’s “unfounded” mean, here?
Besides, as I asked in “Are There Racists at Old Navy…,“ right, doesn’t having white people write their own absolution preserve white supremacy as a system? Alley, herself, finds the charges made about her are unfounded? Really? I’ll bet there are people at Rikers who wish they could do that.
“In the future Mr. Allen, just write back and state your case.”
See above, plus, I’m doing so now.
“Out of my 65,000 followers, you were the only one offended.”
It’s irrelevant. Nothing I wrote required a consensus from your followers.
But if that’s actually true, then you’re batting 65,000, because I wasn’t offended either.
I know: Weird, right? Check the tape: I never said I was offended, and I wasn’t.
“Your right of course. By taking your grievance public…”
You, first, again: Tweets are public the moment they’re posted.
“…and stating you could CRUSH ME WITH RHETORIC, you have no respect from me. And your ego is trippin dude if you really believe you can crush me or any one else with your witty rhetoric.”
I didn’t say I could crush you with rhetoric. I said, “I could…squash Alley, rhetorically, like a bug.”
In other words, because I work with it often, and in a certain way, race is a subject I understand fairly well, and I can talk about fairly easily, right, from a wide variety of angles.
Most white people cannot do this. Tweets from your followers, who seem overwhelmingly white, show this clearly. Your response to me, above, itself, is further evidence of this, because, in your response, you completely avoided talking about race. You don’t address the content of your original statements, and, as I stated, above, you certainly don’t address the content of mine. Yet, as also stated, even in avoiding it, you state it. See?
That, of course, was my point in the beginning: That, in a world dominated by race, outcomes which support racism are likely. Good intentions are not enough. One must measure one’s thought, speech, and action, and use them for the best possible effect.
“Will this be in your next blog? I hope not, it is way too uninteresting.”
Well, that depends on what you do next.