ROBINSON: Let them talk, but don’t let their venom and vinegar define you

Hikers climbing up silhouette mountain cliff .
Hikers climbing up silhouette mountain cliff .

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

This commentary by Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson appeared on the Dayton Daily News’ Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Aug. 30. Community columns published that day are linked below.

My mom responded the same way almost every time I complained about kids “talking about me” in grade school.

They talked about Jesus Christ.

Her reply was not to dismiss my complaints about bullies (mostly other little girls) or to make light of my sorrow. I am fortunate to have a warrior woman as a mother.

Amelia Robinson
Amelia Robinson

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Her point was that if people mocked, maligned and mischaracterized the Jesus I learned about in Bible study, of course they would mock, malign and mischaracterize me and my actions.

Some people will criticize you no matter who you are (or think you are) or what you do (or think you do).

It was a hard but important lesson to learn as it has shielded me time and time again as a reporter and columnist who shares popular and not so popular opinions.

Think of an insult that can be directed at a person of color. I’ve been called it.

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Think of an insult that can be directed at a woman. I’ve been called it.

Think of an insult that can be directed at a journalist. I’ve been called it.

It is not like water off a duck’s back, but it does not drown me, because my mother prepared me for any storm. Still the nature of man and woman can in fact trigger.

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Just recently, a woman I do not know disparaged my character in a way that did just that.

Her venomous aggression attempted to strip away my accomplishments and reduce me to a reviled caricature.

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It of course stung more, because this stranger is another black person, another woman.

For a ridiculous instance, I thought why do black women — women in general — have to be that way. But then, I checked myself: That is not how the vast majority of people are and that is definitely not how the vast majority of women — black or otherwise — are.

I thought instantly to all the warrior women of various races who have helped me climb all of the ropes life has swung in my way, even as some have attempted to knock me from them.

There are of course the women in my family, my grandmother, mother and aunts who acted as mothers.

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  • Rev. Jacquelyne Bailey and Rev. Lucille Abernathy ― pastors of my church who made sure I got into and could actually get to college.
  • My first bosses in journalism, Shelley Shockley and Pat White.
  • Journalists whose presence inspired me as a kid — Margaret Bernstein and Afi Scruggs.
  • Women who mentored me, whether they knew it or not. Women I have mentored without calling it that. I can go on and on, and throw in more than a few men as well.

It was what they invested that the stranger attacked, but their investment is on solid ground.

They talked about Jesus Christ, so yeah, they will talk about you. What they say only matters if you let it matter.

Talk is cheap and much of it is not worth repeating. Besides, your warriors know the real story. They were there to help you write it.

Contact Dayton Daily News Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson at arobinson@daytondailynews.com.