On Racial Slurs, Mimi Groves, Jimmy Galligan, And Arc Digital

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I don’t have a huge following, so I won’t act like I am telling you something you don’t know. There was a New York Times piece that caused quite a stir several days ago. The article involved two teenagers — a white girl named Mimi Groves and a biracial teenager named Jimmy Galligan.

I wasn’t going to write about this particular incident, even though I write about racism pretty often. However, I read Nicholas Grossman’s article in Arc Digital and found myself compelled to respond. I also responded on Twitter because I was upset.

There is no doubt in my mind that Grossman has experienced none of the racism that I have — and I felt like his perspective was skewed. I tweeted this out (keep this in mind for later):

What happened between Mimi Groves and Jimmy Galligan? The short version: Galligan decided to use a video of Groves using a racial slur in 2016 against her. She withdrew from the University of Tennessee thanks to pressure from the administration.

I want to be clear about something. Even when social media didn’t exist, I never uttered racial slurs. I dealt with racist parents of friends, racist teachers, and racist strangers. However, when it came to using racial slurs: it was off-limits for me.

It was a decision that I made long before social media existed. I knew what it was like to be different — I was an Indian boy who loved rap music and went to school with many white people while also having a diverse set of friends.

There seems to be this idea that using racial slurs is so insanely prevalent, and Grossman even actually lies about what Grove did, as well (see Fact 1). Are there teenagers that make mistakes? Absolutely. However, millions of others don’t, and I do feel like that has to be remembered.

Fact 1: Mimi wasn’t “mimicking a rapper” at all.

While Arc Digital editors have the time to screenshot tweets and subtweet over the Internet (we’ll get to that), they don’t care that much for…you know… facts. In his piece, Nicholas Grossman pointed out that Mimi was “mimicking a rapper casually using a slur.”

Yes — the word “casually” is that close to the word “slur,” which is already disturbing to anyone who cares about racism. In case you don’t believe me, here’s what he wrote:

Here’s the problem: “I can drive, n*gga” isn’t a line from a rap song. It’s not a meme. It’s not a famous line. I would know: I have been listening to rap for over twenty years, and I write about it. Yet, this is the common refrain from outright racists.

It’s a very tired and terrible argument, the never-ending “Why can they say it but I can’t?” debate. If I need to explain why white people shouldn’t use a word that was used to demean, degrade, and dehumanize black people, then there’s a good chance that you’re not going to want to read the rest of this. So why is this Arc Digital editor Grossman just randomly claiming that she was mimicking a rapper? I immediately noticed that he didn’t name the rapper or the song that she was imitating.

I scrolled up to find that the answer was depressing. Nicholas Grossman lived up to his last name by basically declaring that she had stated the phrase in a “rapper-like cadence.” In other words, out of nowhere, he had DECIDED that she was mimicking a song that didn’t exist. Here’s Grossman, blatantly lying, in the SECOND SENTENCE of his article:

Mimi was fifteen, and it’s fair to recognize that she was a teenager and that she can grow from this. However, if you are lying and acting as if she was imitating a phrase from a song — it’s VERY different.

A white teenager reciting a chorus with the “N-word” can be cringeworthy, but it’s a lot different from deciding to use “n*gga” in a random Snapchat message to her friend. Does Grossman care that there’s no song?

I doubt it. He didn’t care enough to even find out what song she WAS reciting, and I have to wonder whether his intent was just to downplay what she said. Then again — I can’t relate: I don’t view saying slurs as something “casual”, like Grossman.

Grossman’s article is even more ridiculous because she uses the hard “R”, as you can clearly see — which isn’t used in rap songs. I wonder if Grossman will correct his article to account for…you know…facts.

Fact 2: Galligan Wasn’t Heard

I found it extremely interesting that Grossman had all the sympathy in the world for Groves. His main argument is that social media isn’t allowing teenagers to be teenagers and evolve the way they should. I don’t have some emotional feud with Grossman — and he does have a couple of valid points. He puts forward the idea that teenagers can end up becoming pawns in a culture war.

While this is true, it’s also true that this school was clearly out of control. Galligan went to a school where black students were told to “go pick cotton.” This isn’t vital information to Grossman at all — he doesn’t mention it. To be fair to Grossman, he holds adults responsible and believes they could’ve taken “Jimmy’s concerns more seriously.” That doesn’t cover everything, though.

Here’s the thing: what exactly was Jimmy Galligan supposed to do? He lives in Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg is a town literally NAMED AFTER the ancestor of Robert E.Lee. Put that aside for a second: this is a school where the teachers organized a game called “Underground Railroad.” This was also one of the last school districts in the COUNTRY to desegregate.

Yes, that’s right: this school made headlines for a runaway slave game before ANY of this happened. If you are already disturbed, it gets worse: consider that the ONE African-American in the class was designated the “slave” for this game.

This is a school that is absolutely out of control. That isn’t “up for debate” AT ALL.

Does Grossman mention this? Of course not — it would help you empathize with the fact that Galligan felt helpless. Why say that when he’s too busy lying about Groves imitating a rap song? While he mentions that adults need to be held accountable, I feel like his piece was irresponsible in that it didn’t explore the school’s racial climate whatsoever.

Galligan had gone to the school principal and realized that he cared more about “free speech” than racism (an argument that many POC always have to hear). If the system wasn’t going to listen to Galligan, why shouldn’t he take matters into his own hands? The world isn’t just Leesburg — and social media can be a chance for Groves to be held accountable.

This is also something I can relate to — my hometown of New Orleans also celebrated the legacy of Robert E.Lee. It was something that I knew disturbed many of my black friends, and it’s good to see that times have changed.

Grossman believes that “kids should be kids” also means that teenagers can be racist without any real consequences. I don’t see it this way. What does Grossman suggest that Galligan do? The school won’t listen to him. Where else is he going to go?

Even if you find the exposal “malicious”, it NEVER would’ve happened if school administrators had heard Galligan’s concerns. Instead, the district would rather indulge in symbolic gestures like apologize for segregation, which doesn’t mean anything if your students are getting called slurs left and right.

Many white people also don’t realize that Galligan taking a stand also means that HE is a target now. I find it strange and “convenient” that they fail to mention this.

Fact 3: Black People, Grace, And Forgiveness

There is a tremendous amount of grace offered to white women, especially when compared to black women. This doesn’t appear to be something that Grossman realizes or cares about, but that doesn’t concern me. If Arc Digital wants to publish article after article from white men who don’t really understand how racism can take a toll on their mental health — then that’s their prerogative. At least I tried to reach out to them. <shrug>

Trayvon was never a child to racist white people — he was automatically a “thug.” Emmett Till was fourteen years old when he was brutally murdered — the criminal justice system never thought of him as a teenager that had “made a mistake.” Trayvon was even mistaken as the rapper The Game after his death.

Let that sink in…At seventeen years old, Trayvon Martin was “mistaken” for a 32-year old rap (now 41-year-old) mainstream rapper from Compton, California. Did racists stop and wonder whether that individual looked seventeen(of course he didn’t)? No. They saw tattoos, and a large black man…and they said…” Yeah, that’s him.”

They even suggested that the media wasn’t showing these “up to date” Trayvon Martin pictures on purpose. If I am honest, the fact that they even think that they look alike is racist, but I guess that’s just one of many racist aspects of the confusion.

There is literal evidence that racial discrimination affects the life expectancy of black people. When a hurricane devastated my city, the media said that black people were “looting” supplies but white people were “finding” them. Jay Pharoah might be a successful comedian, but he’s just another black man in the eyes of the police.

If a white teenager was sent to jail for not doing homework, the entire criminal justice system would collapse on itself. The fact that this could even happen to anyone is insane, but guess what? It happened to a black girl. The girl was fifteen, the same age as Groves when she made that video.

Groves could have used social media and just not used that word. It isn’t difficult. The criminal justice system often treats black children like adults, but that NEVER seems to happen when white teenagers are racist. Once white teenagers make a mistake, there has to be a conversation about “cancel culture” rather than any real consequences.

You know the drill: we live in a world where Joe Rogan blames Roseanne’s racism on Ambien, and that’s somehow considered an argument. Kyle Rittenhouse can signal to police and be taken into custody in peace, while Breonna Taylor was murdered in cold blood. Even AFTER she was murdered, her memorial gets defaced:

At some point, you’d think that white men like Grossman or Belvedere would realize that times are changing and that racist teenagers turn into racist adults, who perpetuate a racist system. Instead, they complain about “cancel culture” as if Groves can’t just go to another school.

Does this mean that Mimi Groves should be thrown in jail for a Snapchat message? Of course not. However, the fact that she is going to a college that wasn’t her first choice… I’m sorry… I’m not going to lose any sleep over that.

In fact, here’s James Lindsay pointing out that Groves may be able to get a full-ride elsewhere. Lindsay — and I kid you not — has branded himself as an “anti-woke scholar”, which might be why he’s taking up for Groves.

The NY Times article also points out that Mimi Groves was the captain of the cheer team. If she is comfortable saying the “N” word on social media, what about black girls who want to join the team? A lot of white people may have read that and felt sympathy for Groves, without taking into account that she might have made it uncomfortable for POC to join the cheer team.

I don’t know that Groves is racist enough to stop a black girl from joining the team, but it is one of the first things that came to mind. It never crosses Grossman’s mind: he’s too busy bemoaning cancel culture, here. A lot of people don’t seem to realize that racist teenagers become racist young adults.

What do racist young adults become? They often become lawyers, judges, doctors, and people who hold powerful positions in society. Even when black women gain entry into specific fields — we know that they are still treated worse. They are still paid less. They are framed as “intimidating” if they ask for their fair share, and even world-class black artists have to deal with “Karen” behavior.

Here is world-class jazz musician Keyon Harrold having to deal with a white woman that decided that his son stole her phone. None of this behavior is logical, and I’m sure that it’s nothing that Nicholas Grossman or Berny Belvedere has ever had to deal with it.

Wait a minute — who is Berny Belvedere, and what does he have to do with this? Well, he’s a clown who thinks that ME calling out a terrible piece by Nicholas Grossman means I am a “Karen.” And guess what… he’s the Editor In Chief of Arc Digital!

Berny Doesn’t Like Me (Detour)

Berny Belvedere, Editor in Chief at Arc Digital, wasn’t a fan of how I responded. When I made one tweet about how terrible Grossman’s piece was, he decided to screenshot the tweet. He tweeted this out, and once I called him out on it…he blocked me immediately. He has even retweeted the tweet for attention, which I find amusing. Here it is:

It takes a special kind of clown, in my opinion, to screenshot tweets and not tag the people you want to call out.

This is a white man who has likely never actually dealt with a “Karen” (unless he’s related to one). I’m an Indian man who lived in New York and had to deal with racial slurs post 9/11, and racism in general. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. In case you didn’t know: it can be pretty racist down South.

I was stopped and frisked in Brooklyn back when Bloomberg was in office. I’ve been pulled over for no reason in Manhattan numerous times. Even when it’s necessary to call the police, I don’t. But Berny doesn’t care — he thinks it’s a cool “dunk” to call me a phrase that has gotten popular.

He thinks that because I found the piece disgusting, this means I am a “Karen.” One of the most hilarious things about this is it only proves that Berny really doesn’t understand racism, but neither does his publication. I cared about the flaws in Grossman’s piece, so that means I’m a white woman?

Huh?

I actually know what “Karens” are and have had to deal with them — that’s one of the reasons I write about them. Berny trying to use that term to describe ME is laughable, yes. It also epitomizes how privileged he is: he thinks that he can call me a “racist white woman” when I am actually the one CALLING out the subtle racism in Grossman’s piece (intentional or not).

To be clear — I don’t care about getting published in Arc Digital. Actually, FUCK Arc Digital. I think that pieces like that should be held accountable. If you’re only interested in hearing about the perspective of racial slurs from white men like Berny and Nicholas…you can go fuck yourself. I mean that.

I never cared about getting curated, but it still happens. I could also pitch to better publications than that one, frankly. I think my DM to them makes it clear that I was more focused on sending a message more than anything else (pun intended):

Not surprisingly, there was no response. At least…not in the DM.

Instead, Mr. Belvedere here didn’t even have the courage to tag me in his subtweet and blocked me IMMEDIATELY after I responded. The fact that a grown man retweets his own tweets is cringeworthy enough, but the idea that he really “dunked” on me is laughable.

The first screenshot is Berny Belvedere, Editor-In-Chief of Arc Digital, screenshotting my tweet and calling me a “Karen” because I raised concerns about Grossman’s piece. But that isn’t all! The second screenshot is him retweeting his own tweet because I suppose it didn’t get the traction he had hoped.

Of course, it’s not that surprising that one of the people that retweeted Berny Belvedere is an actual and literal racist. Keep reading to explore some racist takes by @neontaster. In all likelihood, @neontaster probably just saw Berny mocking a brown man and decided to retweet it.

“Neontaster” is known for going private once his racism goes viral, but he always comes back. If you’re an editor of a publication and retweeted by people like THIS??!! You might be on the wrong side of things. Yikes…

Back to regularly scheduled programming…feel free to make sure that Benny Belvedere sees this article. At the very least, Arc Digital should do more due diligence before publishing articles.

Final Thoughts

First, Grossman’s article is factually wrong. That’s one reason I made the tweet, and I don’t regret it at all. I think it was insanely immature for Arc Digital to act the way they did, but I also care more about the facts they got wrong.

I never cared about getting into Medium publications or publications in general. I write when I am compelled to, and I write about topics that I care about. If he had provided more context, I probably wouldn’t have written this…but that would require him to care about the issues in the first place. In the end — it inspired me to write this, so it’s all good.

Second, stop framing Galligan as some tactical psychopath. He went to school in a school district where racism was accepted. I would argue that if teachers are organizing “runaway slave games” — he went to a school where it was encouraged. When young women use Tiktok to out their rapists — that’s a good thing.

If Galligan uses social media to expose a white girl that took to social media to use racial slurs, apparently he’s a smug asshole. They might not be the same thing, but it’s the same scenario: “This is wrong. No one is listening. What tools do I have left?”

Galligan’s school principal was defending free speech rather than hearing Galligan out. What happens if you are a whistleblower and the local police department isn’t willing to hear you out?

You might go to the FBI. Just because Leesburg doesn’t take racism seriously, it doesn’t mean that colleges don’t. There’s a big world out there — and Groves should understand those words have consequences.

The sad truth is that there’s a group of people that will always defend racism. If Groves was a forty-year-old woman melting down and yelling racial slurs in a supermarket, there will be people that defend her. If she was older than that, it would be blamed on dementia.

There are endless excuses for racism now: people can blame it on substance abuse, mental health, and more. Let “kids be kids” should apply to whether your 17-year-old child stays out late on the weekend. Believe it or not, it shouldn’t apply when he or she is yelling racial slurs into their smartphone camera.

There is literal evidence that racial discrimination affects the life expectancy of black people. You can look at charts that signal a very real economic divide. Google is one of the most respected tech companies in the entire world, and they recently fired their most successful diversity recruiter:

Grossman thinks the issue is about Google searches when it isn’t. Galligan made his choice, and I assume he thought deeply about it. Employers should be able to decide whether Groves saying a racial slur means they should hire her or not. Similarly, those who hate Galligan will undoubtedly try to hinder his progress because of what he did.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a Youtube video. It’s a video uploaded a year ago, and it has TEN TIMES more dislikes than likes (as of press time). The comments are what you expect — racist comments, homophobic comments, and comments that suggest that since he “ruined someone else’s life” — now his life would be ruined.

Some of them simply express disdain regarding his actions. If Galligan has ambitions, he chose to make a decision that will certainly affect those ambitions, in some form or fashion.

When unarmed black men are dying at police officers’ hands, excuse me if I’m not moved by Groves not getting into the college she wanted because she used a racial slur. Life goes on. She literally could’ve continued to use racial slurs and choose not to document them on social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50 — if you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

Jimmy Galligan said that he had one goal: “I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word.”

Well…she does now, doesn’t she? Racists might not like it, but they will have to accept it: actions have consequences.

Oh. One last thing…in case this wasn’t clear:

I write about business, finance, technology, art, and culture. Featured in The Startup, Level, Data-Driven Investor, Med Daily, and more. neilmathew85@gmail.com

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