Happy New Year!

One of my resolutions is to continue to boldly use my voice for issues of injustice, race and bias. I guess it’s the reporter in me. As many of you know, I spent more than two decades in local and network news, reporting “just the facts, ma’am”. But for the last several years I have used my platform to continue to educate and inform but now, here and on my social channels, I can and do write things that I think are important. That’s what you get to do when you are your own boss. 

As such, I am going to take this opportunity to share with you, an exchange that happened recently with a former high school classmate of mine in which race, class and misogyny collide in spectacular and stunning fashion.

Me, as a junior in high school 

(This blog post pertains to information that was publicly posted so I am not sharing out of turn. I was also given express permission to share the direct messages, as you can see in the screenshot below)

Sean Harvey was a Facebook friend until recently.

               My former classmate, Sean

 

Here’s how it all started.

The other day I posted on my personal Facebook page, a photo of Martha Stewart, who is a pretty hot-looking octogenarian. Has she had plastic surgery? Perhaps. Was the picture photoshopped or a filter applied? Probably. But that wasn’t the point. She looked friggin’ amazing, the photo looked good and that was it.

Most of my Facebook friends commented on how great she looked. Except for Sean.

Now, Sean never really commented on my posts unless it was to stir up something. Interestingly, the posts that really angered him are the ones in which I talk about race, racism and social justice. 

So it was rare that he would come in on a post about Martha Stewart. But boy did he….. 

 

This was Sean’s response to my post.

There was a lot of back and forth as you can see. Sean has a habit of posting and then deleting his comments which, as we know, takes all the comments with it. So far it is still up. But you can see where, when people challenge him he tells them to f*ck off. Go read the post, including the part where he says I was, “slumming for likes”. 

Then things get really, REALLY strange. My high school was predominantly white so I didn’t date a lot. But I did go out with Sean for a very short period of time (45 years ago). As you can see he makes sure to tell everyone that we were former lovers. I have ZERO recollection of that and frankly it seems like an odd flex, but okay.

Anyway, in the very early morning hours, Sean, who had been harassing me via Facebook messenger, posted this on his page, tagged me, sent several messages about it and then dirty deleted it.

Oh My GOD, AGAIN with the former lover?! How… weird!  But we know what Sean was trying to do here. He was trying to embarrass and objectify me, an attempt to shame me into silence. Lemme tell you something: it’s going to take A LOT more than a couple of teenage sex encounters 45 years ago to embarrass me.

My “threat” to “out” Sean on Twitter (X)  was this: I asked him not to do a dirty delete of his comments because, the more he talked, the more I realized I was going to write about this. I asked if he was on Twitter (X) because if so, I would tag him. And that was it. Not a threat; it’s the same courtesy I do with anyone I talk about here or on social media. Interesting though, that he saw that as a threat. 

Now that you have the background, here’s the point of the post. 

As you can see by his Twitter profile, Sean is a writer/editor for Allworth Financial. According to its website,Allworth Financial (formerly Hanson McClain Advisors) is an independent wealth management firm with approximately $16 billion AUM and 33 offices nationwide”.

About a year ago in Facebook messenger, Sean went after me for owning two homes. “Who needs two houses? You can only live in one of them at a time!”  He seemed particularly incensed. 

(Note: I work very hard for my money and how I chose to spend it is my business, so there’s that).

This is a man who writes for financial institutions so he should know what a solid, long-term investment real estate is, right? One would think.  

Before I go on, a quick bit of history: real estate is one of the largest wealth builders and in this country, post World War ll, many Black veterans were denied housing benefits, promised them through the GI Bill. That, coupled with redlining, discriminatory lending practices and restrictive covenants (many of which remain to this day) kept Black families from building wealth. For this reason, the wealth of Black families is a TENTH of what it is for white families and economists doubt that gap will ever be closed. As such, building generational wealth is of paramount importance for me and for my family. I also wondered if Sean reacted with the same incredulity, to Allworth Financial’s other clients who use real estate in their wealth-building strategies. 

But Sean believes (no doubt from information gleaned from our long ago, teen sexual encounter and the little bit he sees on Facebook) that I have had a good life, that racism is not an issue in this country, that it certainly hasn’t impacted me and as such, I should not use my platform to highlight those things. Instead, I should express gratitude for the life I have lived. This is called tone-policing and is a tactic used to silence. 

(For the record, I believe I have an obligation to use my platform to educate, inform and foster (sometimes) uncomfortable conversations that bring truth and clarity).

In another direct message, Sean tells me to get my “loyal followers” together and march on Chicago to protest gun violence. Of course, this is an appalling oversimplification of a complex issue and anyone who reads, knows that. 

Then Sean finally makes clear the real cause of his ire. 

Yes the posts about my life, what I read and share from my perspective as a Black woman, are, in Sean’s opinion, racist. 

Here’s why this matters: Sean says he has ghostwritten 18 books, 700+ articles for Forbes, CNBC, Investment News and Kiplinger. It is more than a little troubling to know that someone with that sort of reach, feels completely justified in saying the things he did (I have only posted a fraction of them here; if you would like to see more, email me here).

Sean’s dismissal of racial issues coupled with his lack of understanding (or unwillingness to do so) about how successful Black people can and do experience racism, is infantile. Black excellence does not insulate us from the insidious nature of racism. It never did. Tuning into a newscast or doing a quick Google search will illustrate this point.  

There is more to say here including how Sean continued issuing multiple threats to me in Facebook messenger (yes I finally blocked and reported him) but all you need to know is this: there are people like Sean who feel totally fine, justified even, in telling Black people that their lives and experiences are not valid. This is gaslighting. It is also false. 

I debated sharing this with you because it’s easier to delete block and move on. But we will never achieve true understanding by taking the easy way out. Black people are still routinely assailed for our success and/or questioned for living our lives the way we see fit. 

So to Sean Harvey and anyone else who takes issue with what I post, there’s always the unfriend button. 

Do what you need to do but you will NOT EVER silence me.