An Emperor, Shakespeare, and Forrest Gump Walk Into a Bar…

I swear I get the best inspiration from Facebook comments.

A guy who worked under my charge in the Marine Corps was at it again yesterday. As a matter of fact, from here on out, I’ll contradictorily refer to him as – Buddy. I posted an article about supporting Black businesses and the fella had a meltdown. In real time. With each passing statement, Buddy made sure to put on public display his lack of knowledge and inability to comprehend the simplest of concepts as if ignorance coupled with being unread were a badge of honor. The tragedy of his crash and burn was Shakespearean in a theatrical sense, only because his slow demise was of his own doing. The nobility associated with characters such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, or Macbeth would have to be omitted.

He might not appreciate being compared to Othello, either.



I know of another noble comparison that’s right down his alley.

“Many years ago there lived an emperor who loved beautiful new clothes…,” so the story begins.

You might be wondering why I am referencing a children’s fable. There are a few reasons – chief among them the simplicity in which I want to relay my message to a certain few who may have trouble grasping the depth of intelligent convo. In the Marine Corps, we used to call it “breaking it down Barney style.”

And believe me when I tell you, there are quite a few Barneys walking around on base. Purple fur everywhere.

One day two swindlers came to the emperor’s city. They said that they were weavers, claiming that they knew how to make the finest clothes imaginable. Not only were the colors and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, but in addition, this material had the amazing property that it was to be invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid.
“It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that cloth,” thought the emperor. “Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and I’d also be able to tell clever people from stupid ones.” So he immediately gave the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him.

It was embarrassing to behold his white fragility on public display as well as the lengths to which he was going in order to dismiss the undeserved advantages afforded his whiteness; otherwise known as white privilege. He actually stated, “I don’t put any thought into the race of a place. I don’t get it and don’t want any part of it.” There’s a reason he doesn’t want any part of it but good luck in getting him to understand that. His conflict was both obvious and painful. It was like witnessing a fully grown man drowning in the shallow end of the pool, flailing in three feet of water. All he had to do was stand up. Or have someone rescue him. Neither happened.

And I allowed him to drown.

In witnessing previous encounters with posters besides myself, I knew full well not to engage in what would ultimately amount to a lesson in futility – largely because I’m familiar with “emperors” of his ilk. There are levels to having an intelligent conversation. The key component is intelligence, without which there will be no discussion of serious note. A friend whom I greatly admire attempted to impart wisdom to Buddy in a measured, logical way – free from emotion yet intelligent in his delivery. I appreciate this brother more than you know – for his wisdom, intellect, patience, consistently calculated responses, but mostly because of his love and concern for people which is proven on a daily basis. He originated a few Facebook pages for conversations with people: white, Black, indigenous – where anyone is welcome to join, converse, opine, and learn about our society’s ills from a perspective different than their own. So to read Buddy’s statements referring to my dear friend as hateful – without knowing anything of the work to which he has dedicated himself in regard to race relations and injustice across the globe – simply added to Buddy’s claim to fame: ignorance topped with a huge wallop of egotistical whinings. A flaw plain to see to the naked eye.

Speaking of nekkid…

The emperor took off all his clothes, and the swindlers pretended to dress him, piece by piece, with the new ones that were to be fitted. Then the emperor turned and looked into the mirror.

While Buddy stands there boasting of his supposed weapon of mass destruction hidden inside his Fruit of the Looms, unbeknownst to him, we can clearly see that he is hung like a light switch. He is embarrassing himself and doesn’t even know it. But keep talking, dawg. I’m listening. Should I say something? Nah, I want to see how far this goes. If allowed to ramble, he would. And he did. A grave is supposed to be about six feet deep if I’m not mistaken. He’s at about 9 feet…and counting.

My friend tried telling him as much but just like the emperor, Buddy’s ego did not allow for rationale. Instead, he arrogantly strutted down the streets of the city, thinking that he was clothed but deep inside knowing good and gotdamn well that he wasn’t. An unlearned babbler accusing the learned of babbling. After my friend explained to him the percentages of white-owned businesses, treatment of Blacks in those establishments and how that factors into frequenting Black businesses, as well as touching on cognitive dissonance, this is what Buddy wrote (verbatim in all of its grammatical glory; untouched to preserve its authenticity):

I don’t seek these answers. I just treat people good and move on. If your answer to everything is “privelage” then no one will or ever could possibly understand anything because they have to be someone they can not. And then that is where it ends. The end of the road. I am too privelage to ever understand anything that anyone else is or does it goes through. Oh well.

These type of head-shaking responses persisted for much of the day. Like the emperor’s new clothes, the facade covering his persona is more detrimental than beneficial and he is none the wiser. In short, he is what can be correctly defined as a covert racist who in reality wears a cloak of nothingness. He belongs to that common breed whose typical argument is based on the deflection of the subject at hand, ignoring any number of sources that prove their own personal argument moot, and paying no attention to sociological truths that are clearly evident. As my friend stated, he “view(s) assertive challenge as hate…constructive conflict as ‘negative’ and anything that allows you to continue on in ways that are destructive to the Black Community (which allow you comfort) as ‘positive’.”

All of this stemming from a simple shared link promoting “47 Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses That are Great Alternatives to Starbucks.” I would bet money that he doesn’t get this upset when he’s eating his favorite Chinese dish in the heart of Chinatown.

“Goodness, the emperor’s new clothes are incomparable!”

“But he doesn’t have anything on!” said a small child. 

“A small child said that he doesn’t have anything on!”
Finally, everyone was saying, “He doesn’t have anything on!”

The emperor shuddered, for he knew that they were right, but he thought, “The procession must go on!” He carried himself even more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along behind carrying the train that wasn’t there.

I invited Buddy to the conversation group but he ran. Bounced.

Like a Vich.

Forrest Gump style. Should I be surprised that the confidence he displayed previously has all of a sudden vanished? No. I expected it. Like I said before, I know guys like that. He’s white fragility personified. They run away. Cowards always do.

The invitation still stands because I don’t want to see Buddy strolling down the streets of the city in those ass-less chaps. I’ve tagged him in a few posts but he is still in hiding. Nevertheless, others have responded to his comments in hopes that he would emerge. I wouldn’t count on it. But while we wait, a few words of advice for Buddy…

…get out of the street, dawg.

That’s not a good look.


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