What A Leader Could Learn From This Picture: #HisNameIsCayden
Trill or Not Trill?
Here’s the quick synopsis. There’s this SuckaMC, let’s call him Gerod Roth. Gerod posted a seemingly harmless selfie online. The picture featured himself and a co worker’s son in the background. So I guess it’s more of an unauthorized usie. The young man was a 3 year old black boy by the name of Cayden. I only bring up his race because of what followed. Gerod Roth’s friends went full Birth of Nation as they commented on his page. Racist and derogatory statements and “jokes” filled his Facebook timeline. The situation went viral and the internets took care of the rest. Roth was subsequently fired from his job. Thanks for playing.
There are a few leadership lessons you could learn from this situation.
Standing by and Idly Watching
What often separates a leader from the rest is stepping up when nobody else is. In an interview Gerod said he also felt victimized by his portrayal. He could have easily ended this sentiment, by continually condemning the racist comments as they appeared. After the first offensive response, there should have been some action taken. Instead he just let SuckaMC after SuckaMC blast this little kid. He said one thing and that was calling the kid “feral.” Not exactly the way to go, with that one. Leaders will walk towards injustice and set out that fire. Even if they can’t stop the madness, a leader will let it be known that they won’t be involved and will not stand for it. If you’re watching a problem occur right before you eyes and do nothing; you are now part of the problem.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
This is the case of the good old fashioned pile on. Everyone thinks they’re an online Chris Rock when they aren’t even Carrot Top. (Carrot Top was a prop comic who somehow grew to prominence in the 90s. He wasn’t exactly the funniest comedian but hella successful). Anyhow, as a leader, just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. It’s an even bigger no-no if that bandwagon everyone jumped on is heading down the wrong path. When history looks back you want to be on the side of change and advancement. You don’t want to be one of the sheep that advocated for hate. The bandwagon isn’t a safe ride. One of the women who jumped in on the commenting also lost her job.
The Power of Social Media
Nothing watches more closely than social media. I tell my students all the time to be very cognizant of what they’re posting. Whether it’s a meme that is borderline offensive or that snap where people are smoking weed in the background, you’ve got to always be careful. This guy posted what he thought was an innocent photo and it turned on him and led to a job loss. You know how they say it’s on the Internet forever? That is true. Gerod Roth deleted the picture but it was a screenshot of the post that went viral. Now he may not have been a leader, but if you are one, do know that people are watching closely. His boss had their eyes wide open and we know what happened next.
The Company You Keep
If you hang around SuckaMC’s long enough, they will bring you down. But I know, I know, “those are my friends.” “They aren’t me.” I’ve heard these lines over and over again from my students. This guy might have a been a nice fellow but he kept those SuckaMC’s around his Facebook wall. One of the toughest decisions as a leader is making sure you keep positive people around you. The troubles of a friend have a sneaky way of finding even the most effective of leaders. If you have friends that would post these types of comments on your timeline or wall, my advice to you is, delete them now.
Public Sphere vs Private Sphere
Not that it makes this right but behind closed doors, you can get away with mostly anything (Unless you’re Donald Sterling). I’ve been in rooms where some wild things have been said in a private space. To be honest, most times I’ve checked the infraction but, other cases, I’ve led it slide. In a public space rules are different. This isn’t the old boys poker game or the you and your people’s chilling on the block. There are plenty of ramifications that can come from public, negative actions. As a leader one must know that they are a public figure and with the advent of social media, you really don’t have a choice. Public spaces belong to everybody and a leader must be prepared to be understanding of such an ideal and act accordingly.
Final Lesson: Don’t Be a SuckaMC.
Stay trill, folks.
MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 4 books of poetry, including his latest, Deconstructing Ratchet. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at firstname.lastname@example.org