Thank you, xParetorius, for that gracious introduction at the end of my inaugural post in this blog!
I am FreeThinker and as xParetorius indicated I’m a “media personality.” Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of me and know my name. You know also that if I were to say out loud what I’ll say anonymously in this forum, I’d lose my job. Hence, here I am!
Who am I?
As xPraetorius said, I’m a “brown girl,” meaning, I’m definitely not white, but my skin is not dark enough to qualify as black. I have mixed black african, East-Asian, Native American and some Scandinavian genetics. However, I’m all American. I was born here, and so were both my parents. Three of their four total parents, my grandparents, were immigrants and one, my great-grandmother on my mother’s side, was already here. Her family had been here a long time.
I absolutely qualify as a “person of color,” but refuse to allow myself to be labeled as such. I’m a person. My color has nothing to do with it. The term “person of color,” is meant to divide and separate people. To put distance between persons. The term should be avoided at all cost.
I also qualify as an “African-American,” but don’t allow myself to be called that either. If someone calls me “African-American.” I gently correct them. “I am not,” I say, “an African-American. I’m a pure American. Period.” That generally rocks them back on their heels, but it gets my point across, and that’s that.
My great-grandparents, who all knew each other before my parents met, were all keen on insisting to each of my parents that they were American. Period. That all that other stuff was just hooey, because they, my grandparents, had done the greatest thing that anyone in the world could do for them, my parents, and that was to allow them to be born right here in the USA..
My parents passed that thought, that state-of-mind, on down to me. They never, ever complained about how anybody in America treated them, insisting that things were always a whole lot worse where their parents had come from. I don’t know many of those details, because my grandparents and I never spoke much of life in the old country. They always insisted that my parents and I focus on the future and that we do whatever we could to make it a bright future.
I grew up with a bit of a culture clash between myself and my surroundings. The majority of those around me were blacks and browns and a few whites, but I rarely had any real difficulty interacting with any of them. I had black, brown and white friends, and their parents definitely raised them differently depending on their race. The black and brown kids, with few exceptions, exhibited a sense of bitter entitlement. The white kids generally heard a fairly standard message of “work hard to give yourself a chance to do better than your current circumstances.” The black and brown kids usually heard a message of, “here’s what you have to do to beat the system that is rigged against you.”
I was never ever allowed even to contemplate that the system might have been “rigged against me” because of the color of my skin. I was pretty driven, so I didn’t fail a whole lot, but when I did, if I ever tried to make an excuse about how it wasn’t my fault, or the circumstances were unjust, or whatever, my parents quickly squashed it. I might have tried to make excuses once or twice. But I haven’t ever again.
My parents had a simple rule: “I don’t care what the circumstances are, nothing on earth relieves you of your obligation to work hard, to be a good and decent person, to worship God, to love your fellow man, and to go to bed and do it all again the next day. Period.”
With all this in my background, I guess it’s not surprising that I’ve always been a questing thinker. I don’t want to go just below the surface. I have always wanted to dig and dig and think and think until I came to a point where I had confidence in my conclusions.
Too many people I saw around me did little more than parrot what they had heard others tell them, or what they heard in school. I always tended to chew things over until I almost inevitably came to something that nagged at me because it seemed to make no sense. I could never just let that go. I had to find out what it was with this thing, whatever it was, that seemed to contradict my conclusions.
That tended to make me popular or unpopular with my teachers, depending on their political preferences. In High School, my questioning was generally accepted and welcomed. Not in college.
My skin color overcame my mediocre high school grades (B Average) and got me into Dartmouth. There, my questioning of the overwhelmingly leftist orthodoxy that reigned was definitely not welcome. I became a “troublemaker” and escaped with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and a minor in Journalism. That is the exact credential of someone who has no idea what to do with her life.
Needless to say, I went into media, and being relatively attractive, soon found myself anchoring local network news broadcasts, albeit at odd hours of the night and odd days of the week. However, the pay was good and my colleagues treated me like gold, and I was on tv!
Still, something nagged at me. As constrained from expressing my point of view as I was at Dartmouth, this media job was a lot worse. Very early on, it became obvious to me that I was expected to be able to contribute to the station’s “African-American Outreach Initiative.” (Google it, if you wish) When I protested that I didn’t consider myself “African-American,” but rather “American,” I received a rather abrupt reminder that I needed to eradicate that kind of thinking, and get with the program.
I was, you see, an “African-American,” whether I liked it or not. I was hired as one, they told me, and I was one, and I was darned well going to act like one and help the station with its “Initiative.” Or else. It soon became evident that this “Initiative” was little more than theater spitting out all the same tired, old liberal bromides that I had questioned in high school and college, and for which I had never received any adquate explanations.
All this was relentlessly, inexorably making me into that rarest of creatures: a brown-skinned Conservative in media land, though I’ve never really fit comfortably into any boxes. The global “narrative” out there, however, is all liberal, and it’s riddled with contradictions, nonsense and rubbish. And it pretty much rules our land. That our great country, the greatest country that has ever been, chooses to be ruled by contradictions, nonsense and rubbish has long galled me, and I couldn’t just let it pass by unchallenged.
I realized that I couldn’t work at that television station too much longer and keep my sanity, so I started to hunt around. Amazingly, I found something fairly quickly. Something national. I passed the fairly grueling interview process and was offered a prominent media job with a huge raise in pay, in a big national market. Did I take the job? Of course I did!
Well, frying pan, meet fire. If I thought I was repressed in college, then in small-town media, that was nothing compared to major media! In major media, every word you utter is scrutinized to the nth degree, in hopes that something you say will allow someone to scream, “Ah hah! Gotcha!”
Even worse, I was a closet Conservative embedded deep in the belly of the liberal beast, national major media.
At that point, I realized something deeply depressing: I had become part of the problem with America.
Hence, despite the risk to my livelihood, I’ve been visiting various blogs out there in internet-land and challenging the points of view there. It’s been astonishingly therapeutic. I loved speaking freely. It was the first time I’ve done that since I left college! It was liberating, fun, stimulating, challenging. All the things that my job as a television personality in liberal-land are not.
One of my jaunts brought me to “BrothaWolf’s” blog, where I jousted with BrothaWolf’s readers. That eventually got me banned, as I pretty much expected, but not before xPraetorius at this blog could contact me. I didn’t know it, but he had been following my little interaction with BrothaWolf and his readers, and had been chronicling it in this blog.
It turns out that we are kindred spirits, xPraetorius and I, though he’s a good deal older than I. We corresponded a few times and out of the blue, he e-mailed me to ask me to consider joining his Writers Group. I didn’t answer for a while, but then thought, “What the heck! What can I lose?”
He flew me to his headquarters, a medium-sized office building in Hartford, CT, and we met. When we saw each other, we both did a double-take. You see, until that meeting, we were “FreeThinker” and “xPraetorius.” We had done nothing but refer to each other by our on-line monikers. But, he knew me, and I knew him! He’s really famous, while I’m kind of famous, so it was absolutely hilarious!
We talked about almost nothing relevant to the blog for some time. After all, we both kind of knew each other! After a while x said to me, “Let’s get down to brass tacks. I knew I agreed with you before I met you. I wanted to meet you to see whether I’d like you as well. That’s kind of important to our group and me. Now, though, I’d like to offer you a position with our think tank.”
I was a bit taken aback. The whole meeting was about whether or not he liked me? I wasn’t ready for that. I was ready for an in-depth interrogation on my views on politics, current events and the like. I was ready to discuss all that in depth. But, I was not prepared to get all close and personal with him. Don’t get me wrong, he was never once out of line or even slightly inappropriate, but I thought this was to be like a somewhat typical job interview.
I was annoyed for a moment, but only a moment. I haven’t mentioned that xPraetorius is exceedingly charming, and had won me over personally before I even knew it had happened.
Here are some of my observations, which you might already know anyway. He’s famous! Quite famous in certain circles. He’s a really tall, distinguished looking guy, a bit on the hefty side, but in an agreeable way. He’s much taller than he appears on television. And he’s solid, like a mountain, with a handshake like iron. He carries his extra weight well. He has a velvet, baritone voice. It’s a voice meant for radio, with a face for television. He’s quite handsome in a distinguished kind of way. You likely do know his face, you almost certainly know his voice.
He’s also the nicest, sweetest man I think I’ve ever met. He’s quiet, but not afraid at all to talk. He just talks quietly, with that velvety smooth voice that almost lulls you into a state of relaxation that might leave you suggestible to who knows what. 🙂
Bottom line, I liked him a lot, and I look forward to a long, fruitful relationship here at the Praetorian Writers’ Group!