Call a Thing a Thing….Or Pay the Price

| November 5, 2017 | Reply

In the 1985 fiction novel, Linden Hills, the late author Gloria Naylor depicted the rise, and demise, of an opulent, upper class neighborhood. For decades, the historical roots, prestigious citizens and luxurious homes were the envy of many…..until the ones who “made it” began to self-destruct. The reason? Coveting the ‘privilege’ of an exclusive residence at Tupelo Drive cost them “the silver mirror God propped up in [their] souls”—- their integrity. Instead of just moving away, those who became casualties of Linden Hills had allowed its founder to dictate their personal destinies, rather than doing what gave them the most fulfillment and happiness. Bit by bit, the false lives they led eroded them from the inside out, all because “the highest bidder” was now calling the shots.

There are a lot of terms for that kind of tragic existence; ‘selling out,’ for example. Even ‘faking the funk.’ But the results are the same…..a blind desire to maintain the status quo can cause us to overlook obvious defects and cost what matters the most.

Linden Hills may not exist, but there is no shortage of real-life mirages, man-made or otherwise, that people compromised plenty to keep ahold of. One recent case shined a spotlight on the allegedly grimy machinations of Hollywood’s Miramax Films and its co-founder, studio executive Harvey Weinstein. For years, grumblings and gossip behind the scenes had long rumored the heavy-hitter to be a serial debaucher of women.

Since the accusations first (re)surfaced in last month’s New York Times, dozens of established and evolving actresses, including Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, Angelina Jolie, and Gwyneth Paltrow have described being propositioned and/or sexually assaulted by Weinstein as lawsuits were settled out of court, insiders looked the other way and the actresses’ experiences were met by cavalier responses like ‘oh well, that’s just how Harvey is.’ Instead of confronting the crisis head-on, negative stories were squashed in the press for years and A-listers ran to his defense.

If Harvey Weinstein’s peers and had acknowledged the misconduct from the jump had ‘called a thing a thing,’ rather than going into ‘deflect-and-deny’ mode, maybe the esteemed executive could have retained his status. Instead, he’s separated from his wife, expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, stripped of multiple honors, and was fired from his own production company. Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first powerful man to abuse his power by attacking women, nor will he be the last…..but he certainly illustrates the far-reaching consequences of what happens when people collude with the wrong instead of doing what’s right, paying dearly in the aftermath.

As we live, most of us learn that there are plenty of rules designed to maintain a civilized society; ‘don’t sweat the small stuff,’ ‘treat others the way you want to be treated. But there’s also a rule that many fail to grasp until it’s too late……‘To thine own self, be true.’ In Linden Hills, the ‘silver mirror’ represented that mantra, describing it as “that part of you that lets you know who you are. You can forget what you really want and believe, so you keep that mirror and when it’s crazy…’ll always know exactly where you are and what you are. And you call that peace.”

Let’s face it, ‘adulting’ scenarios call for an ever-growing awareness of which situations call for what actions to take. The further we go, the more we realize that few events are easily solved with an ‘either/or.’ There’s always the chance of miscalculating this or that, but when we honor our intuitions to follow our ‘first minds,’ that choice rarely becomes a misstep.

The aftershocks of the Weinstein scandal are still reverberating; but because of ‘Harvey-Gate,’ millions are sharing harassment stories as the skeptical gain awareness and the guilty apologize (Kevin Spacey’s doesn’t count). Selling out can happen anytime, but by keeping that ‘silver mirror’ clear, the truth will be a lot easier to see.

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Category: Culture & Politics, DMN Briefing Columns

About the Author () showcases the writings of an intelligent and socially savvy wife, mother and journalist who explores a variety of topics (culture, politics, race and gender issues, etc.) with a unique African-American/womanist perspective.* *COPYWRITTEN CONTENT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (c) . "Melody Charles," "Chocolate Mama & "Le[e] L[e]e Symone" are writing alter egos/pen names*

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