This is the longer version of my piece of The Huffington Post
Facebook is a tricky place for a YouTube. Algorithms don’t necessarily favor you and finding out a way to use your fan page to drive traffic to your YouTube videos is still pretty tricky. Regardless, it’s a platform that is almost necessary in a day in age where people still get most of their news and entertainment in Facebook feeds. For the longest time, my Facebook page pretty much sat at about 3,000 likes; which sounds like a lot until you find out that I converted an old Facebook account with about 2,000 friends into a fan page. At a certain point, I became pretty indifferent with my Facebook numbers, I enjoyed my smaller audience and didn’t really hunger for more. Then one day I noticed my numbers shoot up dramatically and over the course of a week and now I sit at about 22,500 likes and rapidly growing.
What do I do? Well, I do a lot of things really. I’m a feminist blogger who talks a lot about LGBT issues, Women’s issues and, on Facebook the hot topic is usually racism. Racism is an important discussion to me because, in this world, before I am anything else, I am black. While I am so many things, my blackness will always be seen first and it’s usually the first thing used against me. So racism, as a conversation, will always be relevant to me. I do a few things on my page, but usually my page is filled with screen shots of people who commented on my page and left foolish, misogynistic, hateful, racist and sometimes transphobic comments on my page. I started doing this for several reasons. Mostly because as my platform grew, I noticed that I’d get the same questions over and over again and frankly I got tired of answering the same questions . I figured that it might be effective to screen shot someone’s question or comment and respond to it in a new post if other people wanted an answer and to start a new conversation. I also enjoy embarrassing people who feel bold enough to leave hate on my page. I never censor names or blur out information as my page is public and so are these comments. I certainly don’t think I need to hide the identities of people who leave abusive comments. Of course a lot of people aren’t happy with that and they often accuse me of attempting to “silence their free speech”.
Free Speech is succinctly defined as “is the right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship.”. A lot of people, especially on the Internet, feel like Freedom of Speech means that they can essentially say what ever they want and no one can say anything against it or decide to ban them from their platforms. Freedom of Speech is a two-way street. You can say something and I can say something in response. Even if I decided to ban you from my Facebook page, I am still not violating your legal right to free speech. As my Facebook page is my platform, I can ban whomever I choose for whatever reason and if Facebook decided that my page was inconsistent with their parameters, they could delete it and that still wouldn’t be a violation of the first amendment. In truth, I try not to ban people. I try to let even the most hateful people get their moment to speak their case. Ultimately, however, I feel like my page is a bit of a safe space and I tend to remove and block people who I feel make the page a less than pleasant experience for my fanbase.
With racism being the main topic of conversation on my page usually gets heated. Often, my posts center around the idea of majority groups, not listening to people of color and ultimately dismissing their concerns. Often I hear the term “politically correct” when requesting a degree of empathy from, usually, white men. Sometimes the bold rejection of these conversations, that are usually about rape, genocide, forced sterilization, enslavement and murder, are so predictable that I can only joke about the situation. So one day I wrote this status
Now, of course, there are worse fears in the world than political correctness. However, it has always fascinated me how when speaking about serious situations like the ones I’ve mentioned, the only thing I hear over and over again from so many of the white men, who rush to my page to correct me, is that they are tired of political correctness telling them what they can and can’t say. You’d think that in a conversation about something as serious as racism, transphobia, and sexual violence, that political correctness wouldn’t even be a comparable concept, but the way I see them discuss this it’s almost like both of these issues deserve the same amount of consideration. They will argue against political correctness, which often just means showing respect to a fellow human being, all while dismissing the original point. Of course this doesn’t apply to all men, nor all white men. I tend to judge everyone on a case to case basis, but I am never surprised when a white man enters a conversation about black women and sexual abuse and complains about the PC police being out of control.
A lot of people did not like this post and one of the most fascinating things about some of my posts is how people always show up and somehow end up proving the original point i was making. When i said as much in the comment section, this is how one commenter responded.
There were so many things to break down in this comment. Let’s just start with the fact that “white privilege” is a topic that a lot of people don’t seem to understand and often react defensively to. See, having privilege in this society means that there is something about you that adheres to systemic biases that have been set in place that favor you. So while Kenneth may, indeed, be struggling financially and in his career, he still lives in a country where white supremacy is strong and that benefits him even as he struggles. Privilege doesn’t mean that everything has been handed to you, it simply means that the odds are in your favor because of the social climate. I have several privileges and I think acknowledging them is a very important part of moving forward as a society.
However, all of that aside, this isn’t what really got me about this comment. It was that when I hovered over his name, I discovered that he was an Insurance Agent. There was something ironic about this. Systemic racism materializes in so many ways and one of them is how insurance companies interact with people of color. I wasn’t at all offended by him calling me a cunt or downplaying my career, but I was suddenly a bit concerned with the fact that someone like this would so publicly leave a comment on my page. It’s mortifying. The fact that he felt so comfortable with his employment that he posted this comment while advertising that he worked for them, blew me away. So like most of the ignorant comments I get, I posted it simply voicing my surprise at his field of work and recklessness. He didn’t like this.
And you know what? Maybe it was. Maybe it was messed up for me to post a screen shot of the words he publicly stated on my page with public information about the place in which he was employed. Maybe it was. At this point, I guess I had a moment of guilt. Like I said, my platform has grown very fast and it’s still growing. There is a level of responsibility that comes with that and I’m still figuring it out. My followers started pulling up his information. He was an Insurance Agent for New York Life Insurance and all of his information was public. I hadn’t looked that closely to his page so it didn’t really register with me that he worked for a very large Insurance Company that does actually have a code of ethics that is pretty inclusive.
So, again, it was ghastly for me to see someone in his position interact with me that way in public, but little did i know, it would only get so much worse.
Kenneth never backed down and our conversations became splintered. At this point, my followers had found his page and the most they were doing was making snide comments about his appearance. Totally uncool, but not nearly as bad as coming for his actual job. Kenneth felt very attacked. Objectively, I understood that and, as I always do, i still tried to maintain a cordial conversation with him about racism while he continued to call me a cunt. One of my followers recognized that he was an amateur MMA fighter. Being a vocal feminist who is regularly trolled by body building and MMA forums, I made a comment about the trend of misogyny in online MMA communities. This was his response:
The common issue that I found Kenneth discussing was masculinity. He was very invested in asserting that he was masculine and defining for me what masculinity was. This always came off as the total opposite of masculine. I’m a woman that certainly loves masculinity, but not the type of masculinity that Kenneth subscribes to. The pressure for men to be masculine often pressures them to be violent. Violence is a tool of masculinity and that often leads men to becoming targets of physical violence, more so than women. This has always been an anti-feminist talking point that I’ve always been fascinated with because it ends up being somewhat of a cyclical conversation. Sure, men are more likely to be victims of violent crime, but they’re also more likely to commit it as a way of exerting their masculinity. In a similar way, while men can also be survivors of rape, they are overwhelmingly raped by other men. When women are the survivors of rape, they are also overwhelmingly targeted by men. I don’t discuss this much, but I am a rape survivor. How i dealt with my rape and reacted to my rape was probably not what you’d expect. Ultimately, comments like this don’t bother me or trigger any type of “PTSD” as he alluded to earlier. However, objectively I knew this comment was messed up and so I told him as much while my followers were telling him that he essentially just made a rape threat. How did he respond?
There were so many things that disturbed me about Kenneth, but the thing that genuinely disturbed me was the fact that he seemed to not know the difference between aggressive sex and rape. The comment he made was a rape threat because it essentially came without my consent, in fact, it was in the middle of a relatively calm conversation as a response to my assertion that online MMA communities contain a lot of misogyny. He conflated misogyny with a comment against masculinity. Somehow, he thought this comment was relevant to that conversation and after you look up Kenneth’s Google Plus history, you realize this is a thought processes Kenneth repeats over and over again.
He, like many anti-feminists online, is very invested in this idea of an “alpha” and “beta” males. He is completely married to this idea that what women “really” want is an aggressive, strong, overpowering “alpha male”. He often says things like “Women say they like nice guys, but that’s not really what they want” and goes on to describe how sensitive guys, like his High School self, were often overlooked for more jockish brutish type men. interestingly enough, I don’t know many women who prefer those types, I know I certainly don’t. Kenneth is one of these “nice guys” who truly believes that women don’t like him because he’s too nice and too good. When in reality, he’s the sort of man who calls women who he’s never met before cunts and clearly has a very low view of women and their ability to choose a mate. Women pick up on that and Kenneth is clearly one of these guys that just can’t get over High School. He looks down on women because they’ve rejected him and almost all of his comments had the undertone of dismissing me because I was a woman and more importantly, a feminist. He fancies himself an alpha male, but in truth, I don’t think I’ve spoken to a man that embodied the antitheses of masculinity so acutely more than him.
After defending himself against the accusation that he left a rape threat, he eventually became frustrated with me and left this comment:
If there hasn’t been a more glaring example of the issue with guns in this country than this comment right here. So Kenneth is someone who had a disagreement with me online. At this point he has threatened to rape me and now he’s threatened to shoot me. Looking at his page, he is quite the gun enthusiast so there isn’t a part of this that is far from the realm of reality. I believe there are plenty of responsible gun owners, but the fact that this man owns one and would be this quick to pull it, makes me pretty uneasy. I’ve dealt with a lot of jerks on my page, but Kenneth was in a league of his own. Keep in mind, he very publicly has it written that we works for New York Life Insurance on his Facebook page and he very publicly leaves comments like this, which are, if you couldn’t already tell, death threats. He also left this classy little comment:
This comment was almost the straw that broke the camels back for my fanbase. The rape threat already had people talking about how he should lose his job, but it was just talk. Now that he threatened to rape me, shoot me and lynch me all because he disagreed with a status I made about political correctness. I have a fan base that really loves me. Loves me enough to call me out when I’m wrong and loves me enough to defend me when I’m being wronged. It became clear that people were started to collect screen shots of their own and they had started to forward them to New York Life Insurance. On top of that, a bunch of them tracked down his business page (which of course had the same name) and were starting to give him one star ratings accompanied with screen shots of his numerous inflammatory comments on my page. I didn’t ask for this. I never encouraged anyone to track him down or post on his page. My fanbase felt defensive of me and decided to do so on their own. At one point the New York Life Insurance page was almost entirely littered with Kenneth’s screen shots. You couldn’t read a post on there without seeing his screen shot and his name. I was stunned. Like I said, I didn’t ask for it, but it felt good that there were so many people who cared enough about me to defend me. I feel like it’s important to say that Kenneth’s information was not private. He was an Insurance Agent. His information was readily available and easy to find and his Facebook work information listing the exact company he worked for made it all that easier to find.
It was, at this point, that Kenneth started to shake in his boots a little. When initial threats to his job were made by my followers, he very proudly stated that it was unlikely that he was going to ever lose his job. He claimed that he “worked for himself” and even if they did fire him, he would have an easy time finding work again. I honestly didn’t want Kenneth to lose his job. While these things were messed up, they didn’t faze me. I’ve dealt with online harassment since I was 15 years old. I’m at the point where I expect it and I honestly don’t get that phased by it. I did know, however, that what he was doing wasn’t just a violation of his company’s code of ethics, it was also a violation of the law.
I didn’t mention this earlier, and maybe I should, but I am a transgender woman. This aspect of me isn’t very important to me as I’ve been post transition for a while, I’m in a happy long-term relationship and I am read as cis in my day-to-day life. I am not used to being seen as transgender and because of that, I do not often openly discuss that I am, though it isn’t a secret. There are people who follow me and enjoy my posts who don’t find out until much later. A lot of people assume that I am a transgender ally. Kenneth, like most people, assumed that I was cis. Since my fanbase started to post on his page and from his perspective, harass him, he decided to encourage his friends to do the same to me. So his friends opened up a hate page and in the process of searching for embarrassing photos of me, discovered that I was transgender. From his perspective, this gave Kenneth an upper hand and he had an interesting new way of denying that he sent me rape threats.
What I found fascinating about this was that it is such a perfect representation of how trans misogyny materializes in society. Trans women are often stripped of their humanity in its entirety. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that what Kenneth said wasn’t a rape threat. This is a man who described how he would have forceful sex with me and how I’d enjoy it so much more than sex with a mythical “white knight”. This is someone who already made insinuations about him having sex with me. Now that he knew that I was transgender, he wouldn’t even “consider” raping me and even in the midst attempting to strip me of my gender, he still refers to me as a “cum dumpster”. He kept defending his rape threat as some factual statement about what women wanted and suddenly, because he now knows I’m transgender, I couldn’t possibly speak to that. This is how he responded to accusations of transphobia.
Now, I’m far beyond the point of debating or defending my gender at this phase in my life. I’ll just say this: I transitioned very young. I have never been seen as a man in this society, I have never worked as a man in this society and I have never dated as a man in this society. I am perceived and handled as a woman and assumed to be cisgender and have been for my entire adult life. Most of my followers are women, most of them cis. We talk a lot about men and dating on my platform and we all have common ground because we are women who deal with men and there are shared experiences that we have because of that. Things between me and a cis woman will always be slightly different, but at the end of the day, in this particular area, I know what I’m talking about. Especially since a decent chunk of men approach trans women because their misogyny somehow convinces them that trans women are a better dating option than cis women; I could write a whole other story about that. In any regard, being a woman in the dating world has taught me that often men like Kenneth say women don’t know what they want because they don’t know what women want. Women are not a monolith and what one woman finds repulsive, another will find enduring. What I think most of us want is a man who doesn’t want kill or abuse us and judging by Kenneth’s comments, I’m not all that sure that he fits that description.
Transphobia and trans misogyny was quickly added onto the list of hateful things Kenneth had said that people were forwarding to New York Life. At this point, he started to back-peddle. Suddenly, his job was looking more and more like it might slip away from him. So to cover his back, he made this post.
What I really enjoyed about Kenneth is that he was such an amazing catalyst to so many conversations I’ve wanted to have. Kenneth has demonstrated, very clearly that he is a transphobe, but he somehow wanted to make up for that by posting a picture of two, presumably cis gay white men. Mainstream support of the LGBT community usually looks like supporting people who are cis, white and heteronormative. He attacked me, a black trans woman, and somehow thought that making this post after deleting all the evidence of transphobia and misogyny on his page would somehow absolve him. To me this was almost a perfect example of how just because companies claim to support the LGBT community, doesn’t mean that their employers do. Furthermore, just because a company changes their logo into a rainbow doesn’t mean that they support you, sometimes it means they support your money. I think it’s always important to look into a companies policies and see their history with empowering people within the LGBT community before giving them the stamp of approval. At the end of the day, these are businesses and pink money is still money.
At some point, I started to feel sorry for Kenneth. He was someone who kept digging deeper and deeper holes for himself and I couldn’t help but feel concerned for him in some way. I mean, sure , he threatened to rape, lynch and shoot me, but it was hard for me to understand how and why he kept going. This was bad and it was only getting worse by the moment. Something had to be wrong with him. Again, I couldn’t understand how someone who listed his job so publicly and even bragged about his job security while putting me down would put himself into such a clear-cut position where he could not only be fired, but possibly arrested. It was bizarre to see him keep going, but that’s privilege for ya. The way he speaks and the way he acts is like a child who has never been told no or ever been called out. It’s down right bratty and infantile and he does it all with this air of superiority. When things looked like they were going bad, he decided to try to apologize to me. You’ll see that didn’t go well.
I forgot to mention that his sister attempted to chime in at one point. She stood up and defended her brother against us. She saw the comments that were made but insisted that he was just “misunderstood”. She said that we had no idea what he had been through and that we shouldn’t take these comments seriously. As a woman, it really disappointed me to see another woman standing up to defend someone who not only made rape threats but attempted to debate with me about forcible sex over and over again. He was so obsessed with this idea that want women wanted was forcible sex and he kept asking me , or rather, telling me that it wasn’t rape. Of course if you and your partner agree and consent to some forcible sex play, that’s totally ok. But how does the notion that all women want forcible sex not reinforce the culture of aggressive sexual advances that often times end up being rape? Forcible sex should be something that is ethical, discussed and consented to. Not something you assume of a total stranger. I couldn’t accept his apology. There was nothing about it that seemed genuine. He was trying to cover his butt, but it wasn’t working. I had over 20,000 people watching this as it all unfolded. He asked his friends to come and support him in the fight against, as he put it, “SJWs”, but most of them were disappointed in him. One of his family members even said that he was ashamed to be associated with him. I felt bad for him, but I guess not that bad.
He kept going and going and going. I didn’t even read half of the things he was posting in various different threads. I know he dealt with a flood of messages on his business page and phone calls to his office. Again, i didn’t send these people after him, but he would not back away from my platform and the more he spoke, the worse it got and I didn’t want to ban him because I felt like if he wanted to defend himself, he should. His way of defending himself was to just get progressively worse and worse and threaten violence and rape to people who were posting on my page.
He did this all feeling pretty confident about his job. This was all happening in the course of a night. I had become a bit exhausted; keeping up with him and his posts was starting to just become a bit annoying. I decided to go to bed and when I woke up, I was greeted by a bunch of my followers posting this message on my wall.
New York Life Insurance did an internal investigation on Kenneth after receiving a myriad of posts on their facebook wall and many of my followers personally filing reports and complaints against him. I was honestly very shocked by this. Again, my intent was never to get him fired. I never really wanted that if I’m being honest. However, I’d be totally lying to you if I said that I felt any sympathy for him losing his job. In fact, I was a bit overjoyed for several reasons. This was something that over 40,000 people were watching unfold as it was happening. While I wasn’t offended by the messages for the most part, these people all banded together in defense of me and reported him to his job and to my absolute surprise, he was fired within a day. By the end of this situation, I had myself thinking that I wanted to get some New York Life Insurance knowing that the company acted as fast as it did. Now of course, this was a bit of self-preservation on their end, but the fact that it happened brings me joy. The reality is that they could have laughed it off and I have a hard time believing that Kenneth hides his hatred all that well at work so I thought it might be impossible for him to lose his job over this because he probably works with people who agree with him. That wasn’t the case and while, again, it’s not what I wanted to happen, I’m glad that it did. Kenneth, however, wasn’t quite as pleased for obvious reasons.
Like a perfectly written story, Kenneth alludes to the thing that started this entire debacle: my post about the fear of political correctness. Political Correctness is viewed as such a terrible thing by people who miss the days where you could say heinous offensive things and never see consequence for it. Kenneth blamed me and my “ravaging” fans for what happened to him. In reality, he got himself fired. Most insurance agents sign contracts where they cannot publicly affiliate themselves with their company
and post certain types of things on social media. That is, again, not a limitation to his legal right to free speech. It’s a contract that he signed and agreed to that he violated that ultimately got him fired. At no point does Kenneth own up to his actions or the things that he’s said.
I think, like I felt at a certain point in my life, Kenneth feels like what is done online and what is done offline has no repercussions. We tend to use the internet and view it as a sort of alternative, not real, not to be taken seriously virtual consciousness in which we should never truly be punished for our words. As my platform gets larger and larger, I realize more and more that what we do on the Internet does, indeed, have an impact on our offline lives. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The Internet has changed my life and opened up so many job opportunities for me. I make all of my income online and I’m fortunate enough to have worked diligently since I was a teenager to cultivate a platform that allows me to do so. The companies I work for, know where I stand politically and, in fact, support me. I have made a promise to myself that I will never succumb to being in a situation where I’m working for a company that didn’t want for me to stand up for myself or other marginalized minorities. I don’t want to work for a company that would fire me over something I said online and I’m fortunate that I don’t. Kenneth isn’t so lucky.
Kenneth is someone who has attached his legal name to his social media use and that’s something that I feel most people understand not to do, but Kenneth is proud. He has a YouTube channel where he discusses his positions, including a video about feminism detailing how you can’t teach men how not to rape, but you can teach women self-defense. His Google Plus activity is atrocious and, again, it’s connected to his legal name that is connected to is place of work.
What startles me about Kenneth is how bold he is and how unashamed he is to say these things. This tells me that something about his life and probably his upbringing has allowed him to feel a sense of pride and a sense of indifference in his words even when he’s wrong. He is so convicted in his wrongness and he never stops, he’s still not stopping. He continues to blame me for what happened and is clearly feeling pretty volatile after the fact. He has, at this point, threatened to dox and attack my family and a large part of why I’m making this post is because of that.
My disabled mother doesn’t deserve to be attacked because Kenneth posted things publicly with his name and company attached to them and got himself fired. While this article is titled “I got him fired”, I didn’t get him fired. He did. I’m ultimately ok with that because this is someone who works with women, but sends rape threats. This is someone who claims to not be racist, but is racist in his spare time talks about running over “niggers”. This is someone who on Linkden claims to support Civil Rights, Social Action, Economic Empowerment, Education and Human Rights but when he’s out of the office demonstrates that he is, indeed, in support of none of those things and he works a job that puts him into a position where he deals with the public and there are so many things about him that really don’t seem like things I’d want to welcome into my home. He thinks that I’ve defamed his character when all I’ve done is screen shot his actual words. The last post I’ve seen from him on my page was this:
Kenneth gave me his blessing to write this article and, for that, I am very thankful. I never wanted him to be out of a job for an online disagreement, but this is the day in age that we are in. I wanted to make this post as a warning to so many that the things you say online can impact you offline. As a child of the internet age, what I heard over and over again growing up is that everything I post online lasts forever. I used to chuckle and laugh that off, but I realize as an adult just how true that is. People who troll like to believe that these things happen in a vacuum and that trolling isn’t serious. There are real people behind these social media accounts and as we shift into a culture that is more and more connected, the repercussions for the things you say and do will become greater and greater. Freedom of Speech does not protect all speech. I can,in fact, have Kenneth arrested for these things, but I don’t want that. I want him and people like him to realize that there is a consequence for your actions and that the adult thing to do is to own up to those consequences and take ownership to what you’ve done. I don’t think Kenneth ever will and that’s sad.