Kitanya Responds to Comments — 1

Kitanya Harrison
4 min readMay 19, 2018

Medium treats each comment as a separate story, which gets added to a writer’s list of articles. Comments also get queued up as a “Next story” and in other recommendations. This suppresses the discoverability of the stories I spend time researching and thinking about. As a result, I made the decision that I won’t respond directly to comments going forward. But I do want to engage with my readers and build a community. As a result, I’ve decided to create this weekly feature, where I respond to some of the comments I’ve received.

I’ll begin with a sub.

I was lucky enough to have Medium select my story, The Difficulty in Defining Donald Glover’s “This is America” to be a Member Feature Story. Even though it’s off the front page, it’s still receiving a fair amount of activity. Thanks so much if you read it. Special shout out to members who applauded. This is the metric Medium’s algorithm values the most, so thanks for the boost!

Glover’s video sparked a lot of discussion, and I found myself down in the comments trying to explain that people shouldn’t compare the victims of slavery, the Jim Crow south, and mass incarceration to the victims of petty credit card theft. I’m open to receiving criticism and am willing to engage with pushback, but, going forward, I’m not going to waste my time with people who haven’t made the slightest effort to inform themselves about the issues.

But be on the lookout for people like this. Removing context and proportionality, trying to make everything seem equal is how they run the okey doke.

My piece on why I’m not watching Netflix’s Rachel Dolezal’s documentary also got a fair amount of attention and some great comments. I wanted share some of what JUSTIN G. Campbell wrote:

Rachael Dolezal is a curiosity to me. The first thought I had when her story broke was, “well that’s a first…when was the last time you saw a white person wanting to be black?” We both know she wouldn’t have tried this pre-civil rights. Rachael doesn’t strike me as a woman who’d sit at the back of the bus, or someone who’d fight to sit at the front. If you can get past the insult, it is kind of funny. As an absurdity, you could say that progress is being made when white folks don’t wanna be white anymore. And cynical people say there’s nothing new in the world. This s%$t is new. Give Rachael a little credit for coming up with something I’ve never seen before, and I know my American history pretty well.

There is something new and strange about what Dolezal is doing, but I don’t know if I agree with Justin that it’s progress. There’s a way White supremacy keeps managing to mutate itself and get the rest of us to play along. I wonder if Dolezal’s schtick is the opening salvo of some new chapter we’ll be looking back on 20 years from now and wondering why we thought it was benign.

Justin also offered this bit of constructive criticism, which I appreciate:

My only suggestion to you, and it is merely a suggestion. Calm down a little bit and watch some of the show so you can give us an impartial social critique of this bizarre phenomenon. Impartial but pointed, I mean, don’t lose your charm. Personally, I would read anything you had to say on the matter. You have a clear talent but your anger is somewhat clouding your judgement as it blunts your impact. Don’t let that happen. We need people like you commenting on topics like this. Don’t short change your talent or our society.

I agree that watching some of the show would have allowed me to provide more context. And maybe that would have produced a better article. But I do think there’s merit in avoiding toxic programming that exploits people. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said watching the short clip of Dolezal’s son made me feel super gross. I just didn’t want to participate in humiliating him. He has no control over what’s happening. He didn’t have a choice. But I can choose not to watch. Our attention is valuable. I made the conscious decision to spend mine more carefully.

As for the anger… I don’t know how to break it to you, Justin, but this is me dialed waaaaaaaaaaaay back. I’m Jamaican. On a scale of 1–10 of Jamaican anger, this is a 0.5. But I will admit that there is something about Dolezal that enrages people, and maybe it got the better of me. dori mondon-freeman did watch the doc and wanted to throw her Chromebook. I can’t afford the property damage or the high blood pressure, so I’m going to avoid that woman like the plague.

My movie recommendations look like they’re going to be the orphaned children of this account, so I was so happy to see someone else who’s a fan of Ida! abiodun wrote:

Totally enjoyed this film. Ida’s life and the discovery of her ancestry was one of many surprises that made the film feel authentic.

A piece I’m really proud of that didn’t get as much attention as I’d hoped discusses what the struggles Jay-Z is having with his streaming company TIDAL have to say about hip hop and the end of capitalism. You can check it out here:

Thanks for reading my stuff! Medium’s comments are a pretty terrible place to have a discussion for the reasons I outlined at the top. But if you want to have a chat about anything, you can find me on Twitter (@kitanyaharrison).

I hope you enjoy what’s coming up next week!



Kitanya Harrison

*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: | Rep: Deirdre Mullane