He was a pimp. Not the first one I had dealt with for sure. He had a superior attitude, loud, rude, with several women tagging along with him. The women were strung out, incoherent, dirty, and dressed in provocative clothing. Obeying his every word.
This was a million years ago yet I remember it vividly. I clearly recall the store full of customers on that Saturday night. I was the manager on duty at a clothing store in Landover Mall. People reading this probably won’t know about Landover Mall. All I can say is it was a colorful shopping mall with all kinds of people passing through…good honest folks and then the folks who were trying to steal a whole display of leather coats all while smiling and talking to you. Drugs, shoplifting, fights. Never a dull moment. You had to be on your game. So anyway…back to the pimp. He walked in the store and I was working behind the counter with a long line of customers. My staff on the floor glanced at me knowing they needed to be alert. So far so good. He seemed harmless. Arrogant. He was talking loudly ordering his women around. They picked out some things to try on and went in the fitting room. I stood behind the elevated counter ringing up customers and keeping my side eye on the pimp.
He stood in the middle of the sales floor talking loudly to himself and kept glancing at me. Then he pulled out a cigarette and lit it up. He looked straight at me while he did this because even though back then you could smoke in the mall, you couldn’t smoke in the stores. I guess it was a test. He was waiting to see what I was gonna do. I excused myself to interrupt the customer I was helping and then I said out loud… “Excuse me Sir. I’m sorry but you can’t smoke in my store.” Everyone in line stopped talking. LOL I remember that clearly. Everything stopped except for the music playing. Of course I remember the song..I’m a scorpio..hello! It was Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show”. LOL!
He looked right at me. I knew he wasn’t expecting me to say anything to him and he definitely wasn’t happy. Then very loudly he yelled “BITCH! I GOT WHITE BITCHES LIKE YOU WORKING FOR ME!!!” It sounds silly now. But that is what he said. It was like a bad movie. LOL There was a collective gasp in the line at the counter. Everyone looked down or anywhere besides at either of us. I never flinched. Me. The only white “bitch” in the room at the moment I suppose besides a few of his women in the fitting room. And here I am telling a pimp what he can’t do. I never changed my expression. I replied calmly, “Sir I’m sure that is true, however you still cannot smoke in my store. Would you like for me to call someone to show you out to where you can smoke?” Silence. He looked at me and kept smoking. He looked at the mall security guard who just happened to walk by to give me a wave and see if we were cool…and then he mumbled something and walked out of the store. I continued to ring folks up and act like nothing had happened, talking to people in line and keeping it moving. It was still way too quiet. The man next in line said, “You handled that REALLY well. That attitude is gonna serve you well in life. You are gonna go far.” I remember that clearly. That African American man with his kind round face telling me about myself and where this little incident was gonna take me. At the time I was very young and it really didn’t seem like anything but another crazy Saturday evening. But now I really understand…
As a songwriter and lyricist I know the power of words. The hurtful ones thrown at someone effectively can break a spirit, shatter a dream, ostracize, demean, and do a lot of damage to a person’s self esteem. In turn, one kind word can make a horrible day suddenly become hopeful. A positive word can encourage, motivate, heal, and sometimes even save a life. To me, name calling is the last weapon in someone’s arsenal and when they resort to hurling insults I know they have already lost whatever game they are trying to win. I think this is why political advertisements always turn me off. If you can’t effectively tell me what you need to say without bashing someone else then what you are saying isn’t worth listening to. It is childish but some adults do this all of the time. She/he is fat, a whore, a bitch, ugly, stupid, etc. And with the internet allowing people to hide behind their profiles with no face to face confrontation it’s even easier to be a bully. Even though we are hopefully above all of that..hearing a harsh word like that about you can still sting. Even as a grown woman.
So fast forward from the pimp incident to present time and the reason I am writing this blog. I just recently I discovered I have a few “haters” out there in cyberland. I’m not a fan of the term “hater” but we’ll go with it for now. I’m not even sure it’s me they hate. It could be someone in my creative circle. But let me elaborate…
It started the day my husband was in the hospital for his heart procedure. I was already stressed out and trying to stay above the chaos when I got a notification on my phone that someone had commented on a page of mine on the internet. It was someone who had apparently looked through all of my content, photos, video etc. They said I was old, fat, couldn’t sing, the songs were boring, I must be sleeping with my producer, etc. Damn. What the hell?? I’m not gonna lie. I was shocked and it definitely hurt a little. Who is this and why all of the sudden? Then I realized after checking it out that this person had created a fake profile and was going around to all of my pages making comments. Some of my content on the pages was over 4 years old. So why was this happenening all of the sudden?? I don’t have anything new going on that would warrant such comments. While it made me angry I just deleted it and dismissed it.
It was quiet for a while then a few weeks later there was a sudden onslaught of fake new profiles and awful comments. Some really bad accusing me of all types of things that I won’t list here. They said I was fat, looked pregnant, had wrinkles, must be over 50 years old, and an awful singer. They made comments about my race, my hair, my voice, the songs, my horrible close up shots, my chin, my body, my band members, etc. Jeez. Why was this happening? I couldn’t think of anything that had happened that would cause such nastiness towards me. I hadn’t had any bad words or hard feelings with anyone that I was aware of. I try to send a positive message with most things that I do and I seem to be gaining a small but very cool fanbase of awesome people. But these guys weren’t playing around. They were clearly on a mission to try to tear me down. And all of them were new, fake profiles created that day with no other history except for bashing me. It may have even been the same person since they misspelled some of the same words, etc. But now they were clearly doing name searches on me. Pulling up anything that had my name on it and leaving nasty comments. But why??
I probably won’t ever know why. It’s amazing to me that even today, as a 40 something mom, wife, singer, songwriter, etc…there are still people out there who want to tear me down. I am not some big popular artist. I am not competing with anyone. Geez, half the time I am a mommy trying to make ends meet and do this music thing and find some time to rest when I can. So to know someone is really going out of their way to hate on me is crazy. But I know there is a bigger picture here. This mindset…the people who go out of their way to belittle you and try to make you feel inferior and worthless..these are the “bullies” that we teach our children to ignore. It’s easy to say “just ignore it”….even “it gets better”. That’s easy to say when you aren’t the one being constantly ridiculed and belittled. It wears on you. It is hurtful. It is unfair. I’ve dealt with it before. Jealous people, bullies, people trying to keep you out of their circle, squash your dreams. But it’s at these moments that it’s even more important to stand firm in who you KNOW you are.
“It doesn’t matter what name you call me….what matters is the name I answer to.”
People look at you and they see what they want to see. And you look in the mirror and you see what YOU want to see. Sometimes they don’t match up. To that pimp that night I was just another white bitch. Someone he was going to overpower. But see I KNEW who I was. I didn’t need to act out. I didn’t need to get angry. This is me. And I have found that when I am confidently standing as me…who I am….there is nothing that can hold me back. There is no one who can break me down. There is no name you can call me that I haven’t risen above before and I may have even at one time looked in the mirror and believed some of those things about myself. But it has never stopped me. Even when it hurts I press on.
I know that people who act out like this are hurt. They have also been bullied and hurt before and have never learned how to rise above it or change it. (Thank you Raven for that insight) Or they feel small and need to tear someone else down to feel powerful and a part of something. It takes a lot of effort to create several fake profiles and spend your time looking up Janice B. only to leave comments that for whatever reason you think will hurt me or stop me from going after my goals. In a sick way I suppose it’s a compliment. You have to care a whole lot to put that much passion into hate. My producer MoRece said once that people only start buzzing when there is something there to buzz about. I know that is true but like I said in a recent Facebook status, I’ve never claimed to be young, wrinkle free, skinny, or a phenomenal singer. I’m just doing what I love and being who I am. I don’t need to hide behind a fake profile and hurt folks to feel powerful. I stand strong in who I am no matter how imperfect that may be to someone else. I know it’s probably best to just be silent regarding these incidents but that’s not my style. I don’t hide. If these people want to keep hurling sticks and stones at me I will just catch them and add them to this big mountain that I am climbing. I will reach the top and continue to rise. So I thank them for the extra lift and pray they find something in their lives worth climbing towards besides trying to pull me down. I also thank them for the extra attention to my pages. All of those extra hits are great! 🙂
As for the pimp that night, he came back in the store still talking loudly I suppose to compensate for the fact that he didn’t shut me up. He got in line with the women. We rang him up and he took out a wad of one hundred dollar bills and threw money on the counter towards me. But he didn’t look at me. And he didn’t speak to me. One of the women reached up to take a flyer off of the counter and he smacked her hand and told her to put it back. I felt kind of sick inside. As a woman, a mother, and a human being I now wonder what kind of abuse one had to endure to get to that level of despair and self hatred…I wondered that for both her and for him. I pray I never come to understand that.
I recently saw a quote in different variations on the internet but I’m not sure who said it or how the real quote is worded (if you know please tell me!). But I will share it as best I can since it’s really fitting for this situation…..
“Remember that if people are trying to pull you down it’s because you must already be above them.”
Many thanks to the wonderful friends and fans in my world who take the time to send me a positive message, a kind word, and just something to let me know I am moving in the right direction. For every negative comment I may receive I have so many more messages of love that you all continue to shine on me. I choose your light as my focus and we are rising together!!
Love and Light,
**photo credit D. Taylor Images