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An Open Letter to Harriet


I've been in trouble all my life over the way I fly off and curse people our, call them out of their names, and even for making threats.  I never have any intention of hurting anyone or carrying out something I've said out of anger and pain, but I am guilty of having allowed my emotions to cloud my judgement at times.

This past winter I had a job where I was the office assistant to a woman who was the executive director of a non-profit that had a mission towards improving adult literacy.  I was excited to get out of working overnight at the gas station out in the country, and I was happy to get my foot in the door at an organization that I could feel I played a professional role in supporting.

Well, all of that came crashing down around me in less than 3 months.  From my viewpoint, my bosslady was very unorganized.  She, like many other Black professionals, play a role that they can't truly uphold in their personal lives.  She was a last-minute type of person in getting things done, and it really put me behind the ball when it came to effectively being able to do my job, which was support and make her more efficient.  Understandably, she was much more experienced, and probably had a lt of connections that got her an executive director position in the first place, but from my point of view... she wasn't all that. She could barely type and her handwriting was what Mrs. Morgan would call "chicken scratch" back when I was in middle school.

Anyway, we had our differences, and as the subordinate I just swallowed my pride and dignity and did what she needed me to do, even if she'd ignored my suggestions about how to make something more efficient and consistent through technology and organization.  After many insults and comments from her that I simply felt were rude and disrespectful, I walked out. It was a bad move professionally, I will admit. But if I wanted to remain a gentleman, the only option I had in that moment was to grab my leather strapped bag, place my vintage Charles Jordan shades on and remove myself from what I felt was an abusive environment.

Well, sometimes when we think a situation is over, it ain't quite over.

So, we part ways. She offers me all this pity talk during my last day and even tried to give me some "busy work" as if it was going to keep me there any longer than the 15 minutes the task took. But eventually I applied for unemployment, since I'd been working there over 30 days, and I went on a winter vacation with my mom to visit my brother in Georgia.  When I returned, I got a call from the unemployment interviewer that my application had been challenged on the basis that I'd not been employed the required duration of time.

This is where I fucked up:  Instead of handling the dispute through the unemployment agency, I flew off the handle and took it emotionally. I couldn't believe that this woman (because in my mind she will never have the distinction of "lady") would not only sit in my face and put on such a performance as if she cared about me while taking away my job, but that she would stoop so low as to lie about how long I'd been there in order to skip out on paying an unemployment claim. I was furious. I was livid. I was pissed the fuck off!

Without going into detail about what I did and didn't do (obviously for legal reasons), some things were communicated back and forth and she took what I said to her as a threat.  Like any weak bitch would do, she runs to the police and plays victim. So now, I'm in a situation where I feel like I've been set up, and even admitting my fault in a situation will not get the truth out about how she made me feel on a daily basis and how she has used the system to hide her own wrong-doing.

I can't speak to her, can't call, can't email or reach out in any way (more legal shit).  And I'm not going to allow her to place another charge on me because I was a fool enough to try to contact her to even issue her sorry ass an apology. So, instead of doing it that way, I've decided to use technology to my advantage and at least give myself the opportunity to get things off my chest.

With all that being said, below is my open letter to my former boss…the lady who has me in court over some words.


Dear Harriet,
                I want to begin by offering you a genuine and sincere apology.  I was completely wrong for using such strong language towards you and for allowing my emotions to allow me to feel that making you feel bad was okay.  It was wrong and for that I am truly sorry. 
There are no excuses or reasons for me lashing out in the way that I did, that’s simply how I allowed my anger in the moment to control my mind and my better judgment.  I did not consider your feelings, how you may have taken my words into a context of your own, and how my actions may have affected the work you do and the people you are associated with through that work.  I know that having to take time out of your professional and personal life in order to deal with the process of court has also been something that you would rather not have had to do, and I regret that I’ve caused all of that in the past few months. 
Since I know this letter will probably never get a response, I guess I’ll have to approach this is a different way than most letters would be written. So, please don’t judge me on my randomness in trying to convey my feelings in this moment.  
I’ve punished myself for this more than any court or jail could possibly do.  I’ve considered taking my life simply because I’ve looked that this entire situation as yet another failure of mine piled atop everything else that I haven’t been able to complete perfectly.  I’ve convinced myself that I must be this horrible person that the prosecution makes me out to be in court, because that’s the only opinion that truly mattered.
 I’ve allowed myself to believe that I am just like the other guys in jail who I met and lived with during my two weeks there for my Facebook comments about you.  I don't think of myself as a well-educated and well-spoken young man with a few personality adjustments that might need to be addressed.  Instead, I see myself as just another "Nigga" to fill up a tier at the Richmond City Jail, or Henrico County Jail since you've filed charges in both jurisdictions.  My ability to read and write well doesn't matter much in court or in jail.  But, for some reason it was impressive enough for you to hire me and then have me sit on those very talents because you wouldn't allow me to do anything but what you felt you could yell at me for not doing perfectly.  
Maybe this letter is more for me than it is for you.  Since I can’t call you or even send you an email directly, I figure putting my thoughts into words is the same as speaking them.  I have to apologize because you deserve it.  No matter what I feel you did to me that was wrong, I have to always live up to the code of being a gentleman and that often means yielding to what is best and not always what one feels is right.  I really appreciated the opportunity you gave me when you hired me as your office assistant. I do regret that I was not able to show you just how much of a positive addition I could have been to the organization.  But, I’m sure you felt strongly about the reasons you decided to have us part ways in the employment arrangement and I have no problem with respecting that now. 
I guess what I'm getting at is this:  Inside of my apology to you, is my forgiveness for you!  I know that what you said and did to me has hurt me more than anyone outside of my being will ever care to know.  I know that there are Black men outside of myself who deal with insults and comments each and everyday that make them feel like killing over, but they have no other choice but to accept it in order to put food on a table, to keep a roof over a family's head, or just to keep themselves out of prison.  There are times where I allow that struggle to stand more behind my emotion than my intellect, and those are the moments where I find myself offering an apology and admitting to speaking before I think. But, even when I am wrong in my delivery, I stand firm in my convictions that what I believe is right.  I cannot back down from what I know to be true even when faced with threats of being incarcerated and deprived of my right as a human being to liberty. 
After today, I will live my life and not allow this situation to render me paralyzed in enjoying whatever good things await me in the world. Whether or not you've moved on, that can't be my concern. I hope you live your days in happiness and if we ever cross paths in the future I pray that we will have both grown wiser and into better people by that time.
         Sincerely, XXX

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"Better You Than Me"

Maybe you can help me better understand
Why you act like a little boy and not a grown ass man
You try to run the TV, all day stuck on BOUNCE
And you're a fiend for the coffee, always begging for an ounce
You've claimed more than once all you do is "get money"
But I see you in here with nothing, so something is funny
At the top of your lungs you holler and yell
But make an excuse for your behavior, saying "This is jail."
You've got 6 kids, and 4 baby mamas
But you beg me for a click so you can call and cause drama.
You claim to be hard, snatching ass every day
But you expect me to be polite in all that I say
You're on your way back to prison and it's so sad to see
But I'd rather it be you going up the road than me.