I Don't Need White People Telling Me What's Supposed to Offend Me | Opinion

Last week, the singer India Arie added her voice to the other artists who have asked that their music be pulled from Spotify in protest of podcast host Joe Rogan. In an Instagram story, Arie shared a video compilation of Rogan saying the n-word multiple times over the years.

I appreciate Arie and respect how she must have felt when she saw the video of Joe. I grew up with my mother listening to her in the living room. I know her music, and I respect her as a woman and as a Black woman. But I also believe we can have a difference of opinion.

Over the weekend, I have noticed that it has been mostly white people sharing the montage of video clips of Rogan and telling us that the videos are proof that Joe is a "racist." We live in strange times where we are too often told what is supposed to offend us—and if we're not offended, we're told that we're part of the problem.

That's why late Sunday morning here on the West Coast, I posted a short tweet, simply stating my feelings on the matter: "I don't feel Joe Rogan is racist, and I don't need white people telling me what he says is supposed to offend me."

In response, a few people called me an "Uncle Tom" and a "company man." But the last time I checked, I am a free Black man with my own thoughts and feelings. And despite the critics, my sentiments rang a bell, with over 100,000 likes at last count.

As a professional fighter in the UFC, I only met Joe once, but what he's done for my sport and for people like me, many of us "people of color" who have grown up listening to him, I am grateful. So I can't just sit down and shut up. I had to say my piece.

In my opinion, what Joe said isn't racist. I know that because I've experienced real racism, and this isn't it. Racism is prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group.

Granted, it was unnecessary for Joe to use that word. But as someone who has listened to him throughout the years, I've never felt singled out, less than or spoken down to. The word was always used in the context of an event or larger circumstance.

joe rogan

So here is the context: Joe Rogan wasn't calling someone the "n-word," and he wasn't using the word to speak condescendingly about the Black community. He is a storyteller, and it carries over into his conversations. When he compared walking in a Black neighborhood to being on the set of "Planet of the Apes," he immediately realized the error of his statement and took it back. He understood it was wrong and acknowledged it. And though those comments that were said years ago, Joe apologized again this weekend for the use of the "n-word."

As a recovering addict, I have done and said things that I'm not proud of. But if we are not given a chance to make amends, nobody would ever recover. At the end of the day, Joe's actions speak louder than that one word in context. There have been a lot of Black people who have been on his show that have benefited from his platform. And the truth is that if we call everything racist, then nothing will be racist.

I do hate the word. But then I remember we live in a beautiful country that offers us freedom of speech. As a free Black man, I can say what I want. And what I want to say is this: I'm not letting anyone pressure me to complete their agenda.

The Black community is not a monolith. We don't move as one. We don't all think the same. We don't all feel the same. I am a part of the Black community, and I respect how some might feel, but there's also a lot of people who look like me who feel the same way I do. They just don't have my platform.

Terrance McKinney is a fighter in the UFC lightweight division with the fastest knockout in UFC Lightweight history and the fastest knockout in a UFC debut. McKinney trains at Warrior Camp in Spokane, Wash. He can be reached at @Twrecks155 on Twitter.

The views in this article are the writer's own.