Why Be Offended?: On Choosing to Engage Negativity

A few months ago, ThoughtCatalog published a post titled “ Natural Hair For White Girls ”. This ar...


A few months ago, ThoughtCatalog published a post titled “Natural Hair For White Girls”. This article started a minor uproar on my Facebook feed from my friends who are considered conscious and ahead of their time.

The vagueness of the title let on that it was probably a click-baiting scam. My curious nature pushed me to go forward and see why people were getting angry. Was the article that infuriating? I wanted to understand.


After reading it, I was more confused and affronted by my friends and their reactions than I was about anything in the article. I could not understand why people willingly shared and discussed material that was causing them harm and leading to anger and sadness. I have trouble understanding why so many people were willing to give their time to engage with negative energy

The title, “Natural Hair For White Girls”, is as vague as it is intriguing. It could mean anything. It could mean exactly what you think it means.

And if it means what you think it means, how will you feel?

Will you be confused? enraged? will you feel disappointed? Will you be hurt? angry? defensive? Will you feel frustrated? Shocked and saddened? Exasperated?




And if the answer is “Yes.” to any of these questions…why. would. you. click. on. it. Why choose to engage in material that brings you negative energy. Do you have time to waste? Do you not have agency? Can you not choose how you react?

Before reading the article, I made the decision not to allow myself to become upset by what I saw. I preemptively decided to stay calm. I decided to preserve my nature and protect my soul. I decided to keep my peace undisturbed.

I chose to not be offended. I wonder what choices those who were angered made.

This post could have went anywhere on the gamut, instead it chose to specifically target Black Women, one of the least protected and (likely) more sensitive identities in the Black community. It chose to “push our buttons” by targeting our hair, using triggering language and a touchy subject. And we chose to react.

Why?

We were supposed to be enraged and confused. And we were supposed to click the link and share it across our Facebook newsfeeds. We were supposed to give them free publicity. And that’s exactly what we did.

Why?

This is something I’ve seen happen beyond the article, across social networks and in the “real world.” People continually engaging with materials or activities that illicit negative energy, reengaging and reinforcing their trauma.

Why are we willingly spreading material that gives us as a community pain? Beyond being willing to be offended…why are we so willing to traumatize ourselves?

Watching this mess spread on my Facebook feed really illuminated this habit for me. We do it often. Continuously and determinedly, by our own choice, we engage with and share materials that are knowingly and intentionally offensive to our bodies, minds and spirits. We do this on our days off and in our spare time. By choice.

Why?

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