Respect. I have no idea what happened to make Birdman demand “respeck” on his name and I’m not going to go looking to find out. I honestly don’t care. What I do care about is that someone requiring others to show them respect has been made into a joke. I imagine it’s because of the way he said it, or maybe because of who he is. In either case, I think it’s about time someone said something constructive.
I Require Respect. I demand Respect. I command respect. Not because I’ve earned it, because how would anyone who doesn’t know me know what I’ve earned? Not because of my age; because I look young as fuck. Not because of my degrees; because I required respect before I had them. Not because I’m a “strong Black woman;” because Blackness nor womanhood are prerequisites for deserving respect. No; I require respect specifically because you don’t know me, don’t know my struggle, and if you did, you’d know I earned it and I wouldn’t have to explain anyway. When Aretha Franklin sang the song, I imagine she was thinking about some dude who tried to dull her shine with his dick in his hand and oral diarrhea so he was talking out the side of his neck. In my experience, people test people’s limits. Sometimes you can just look at someone and know exactly how far you can’t push them. Apparently, I’m the kind of person who you assume has a short limit, get to know and find the limit isn’t where you thought it was, then have to spend the rest of your relationship with me trying to figure out the limits of my Equalizer of Tolerance. For some reason, even when I am clear about what I will and will not tolerate, people still feel the need to test me. I imagine Aretha and Birdman were being tested, and had to remind people to put some respeck on it.
I don’t think disrespect is a laughing matter. Where I come from, disrespect is grounds for consequences and repercussions of the violent variety. Even at home, any form of disrespect was met with harsh unpleasantness. My last ass whoppin was random and unprovoked because my mother wanted to make sure I knew “which side of my bread was buttered.” It was a preemptive strike just in case I was thinking about disrespecting her. My very literal brain still can’t figure out what buttered bread was supposed to symbolize, but I knew better than to question her about it, in case she’d feel the need to reiterate her point. I know for a fact that most people from my generation and cultural background know exactly what respect is all about, and why a man demanding it is probably not something that should be laughed at.
Yesterday, someone implied that I wasn’t an actual person. He didn’t have a damn thing to say after I corrected him. I don’t expect he’ll have anything to say to me for a very long time. A few weeks ago, a former friend made several statements against my character while defining me as a demon after I explained why she was no longer worthy of my friendship. I might add that moniker to my title so people can have an idea of who they might meet if they catch me on a bad day, or worse, are the catalyst of one. I was commenting on a thread a few days ago that instead of telling little girls that the boys are mean because they like her, we should be teaching little boys how to be respectful and teaching little girls to command respect in turn. People disagreed saying that it shouldn’t be on the little girl at all. No, this isn’t a story time, this is just me providing examples to prove the importance I place on respect. So when I don’t laugh at Birdman’s demanding his name be sprinkled with respeck with everyone else, understand that it isn’t because I don’t have a sense of humor, it’s because I think people have forgotten how this shit is supposed to work.
Today’s atmosphere of thumb thugging, and the imaginary shield that the internet provides has people forgetting that there are limits and levels to this, and that crossing these lines–much like changing lanes out of turn–may cause death. Don’t think that kindness or patience are mandatory. If you receive either, consider yourself blessed, and act accordingly. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t think the the nice person won’t change clothes and get fist-ical. Just because someone knows that violence isn’t the answer, doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the multiple choice options.
Do More. Require Better.