Exploring the Popular Use of “Don’t Judge Me”

“Don’t judge me” is increasingly becoming a popular and pervasive statement, especially among the 16 year old – 35 year old crowd.  I’m not against people judging me or anyone else. However, you must be qualified to judge others.  You should not be really serious about your use of “don’t judge me.”  While I think that it’s quite entertaining when I see “don’t judge me” used on Twitter and Facebook, you really should not be too concerned about what people say about you.  I’m not, however, saying that you should not totally overlook what people say about you and that you should not respond to some things people say about you. You should not overlook some things people say about you and you should respond to some things people say about you. However, I want to devote my dominant attention to my argument that you must be qualified to be an effective judge.

We cannot stop people from judging others and we should not try to prevent people from judging others.  What I would like for those who are committed to judging others is for them to be qualified about the things and aspects of people they judge.  For example, so many true and supposedly heterosexual people are quick to make a determination about whether a man is gay.  They will look at surface level things and rush to a quick judgment and call him gay.  As a deep and committed intellectual, I’m bother by how so many people will make a sweeping conclusion about someone’s sexual orientation and/or identity by just observing him in such a short amount of time.  Every man does not have a deep voice.  Every man does not and has no desire to “bust slack.”  Every man does not and cannot walk in a way that’s predominantly perceived by society as a “heterosexual way of walking.”

By the way, is there some class available that heterosexual men or women teach that men who want to learn how to walk like the typical heterosexual man can attend to learn this style of walking?  If so, I would like for you to let me know so that I can tell the people who are not committed to simply being themselves where they can attend this class.  Thanks in advance.

Some people even get a thrill out of being able to “detect” when a man is gay.  If the man does not reveal to you that he’s gay, then what makes your determination that he’s gay an intelligent judgment?  I’m not suggesting that you have to be gay to determine whether a man is gay, but your conclusions should not be based on the most inane surface level things that you see and hear.  What prevents you from mustering the courage to personally ask the man if he’s gay?  Always do this in an appropriate way because the method you elect to ask him can amount to nothing more than an attack, even if this was not your true intent.  If you are truly serious about being an effective judge, then why won’t you do the work that’s necessary to truly get to the bottom of your claims?  It amuses me sometimes and flummoxes at other times how someone can hear and/or see things out of context and then immediately arrive at a conclusion that someone is gay.

Always put things in their proper contexts.

People make judgments about myriad phenomena besides sexual orientation.  I selected to use sexual orientation as my primary example because sexual orientation is a phenomenon people often make swift judgments about without any critical thought.  Another example I could have focused on at length is about how people make judgments about others being smart.  People who are not smart are hasty to tell others that they are smart.  While their determinations may be true, what are the values and principles they employ for making their claims?  Do they even have any values and principles?  I could continue on and on with examples.

If you’re going to judge people, then make as strong of an effort as possible to ground your judgments in truth.  Try to avoid making judgments about things you have limited or no knowledge about.  Be real with yourself too and don’t try to pretend that you know everything.  If you want to be a qualified judge, then you need to focus on substantive things when you make your judgments.  While I certainly don’t have a problem with people judging others, I just don’t want you to end up looking like a fool because you focused on the wrong things and your conclusions materialize to be completely wrong.

Don’t be a fool.  Make informed, substantive, and wise judgments.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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13 comments

    1. Lol! Some of his followers needed to be more critical and thorough in their view and exploration of him. We have to critique these preachers just as intensely as we do anyone else. We must do this, of course, all in love with the goal of truth and justice guiding us. Thanks for reading and your response.

  1. I think sometimes the phrase invites people to judge. I think using it warrants a “judgement.” I know we joke and play all of the time with it but we know these jokes have underlying meanings. I try not to judge people. I know my opinion doesn’t carry much weight but people give people power. I don’t really care how someone judges me. That’s their opinion. I’m not going to go into depression mode or anything.

    1. I’m very happy that you’re not going to go into depression mode as a result of someone’s judgement of you. Your opinion does carry much weight, even if you are not aware that it does. You can say something to someone and it can stick with him or her for the rest of his or her life. I really agree with you that the clause does sometimes (if not all of the time) invite people to judge. Thanks for reading and your response!

  2. Maurice,

    Substance is great when it comes to making a judgment, but I’ll be honest, some of my most humorous and exciting judging seasons have been ones devoid of any substance. Good example, my best friend and I spent the better part of our Thursday evening out looking at girls with busted weaves and atrocious outfits making judgments. Conclusions such as: she is broke, she is fashion inept, she is just looking for a man etc. were thrown around.

    However, let’s be clear on something Maurice. If you had joined us, only substantive judgment and a serious conversation would have emerged.

    Half umime, half submime with this post as I don’t take life too seriously!

    1. I engage often in some the fun that you had with your best friend with my best friends and other close friends too. That’s why I said things have to be put in their proper contexts in the post. The fun you engaged in and that I have often engaged in was just that–fun. We weren’t making serious critiques about the people, but just having fun and not making any evaluations of the people that were substantive and that had any true meaning The people simply supplied us with some good laughs and just some plain and simple fun. We didn’t make any efforts to humiliate anyone either.

      While I’m all for substance, don’t get me wrong, I have as much fun as anyone else or more. I’m not a person who walks around every day being all serious. In fact, my academic colleagues criticize me for not being serious enough. Therefore, the intent of my post was not to speak against the fun you were having, but to speak more to those people who would turn those fun judgments into more serious “understandings” of people.

      Thanks for reading and your response!

  3. Devil’s Advocate reporting for duty…….

    God gave us good sense. If it looks like a gay man, walks like a gay man and speaks like a gay man, I’m I wrong to assume it’s a gay man? I would argue that I am using the senses God gave me to make a decision.

    You live in Atlanta. I moved to Dallas from Atlanta. You cannot tell me that you have not met a devastated woman who fell victim to a down low brother. When you see the brother she fell for, your first thought is “you couldn’t tell he was gay?” I’ve seen this to many times to count.

    I judge people all the time. I just don’t mistreat them based on my judgment and I tr to leave my mind open. Sometimes people fool you.

    1. The slightest perceived “non-masculine” thing will cause many people to assume men are gay, especially in the Black community. This has pushed many Black males to being hypermasculine, which has led to some of the most economically, academically, socially, and culturally damaging outcomes for Black people as a whole. The interracial shaming about homosexuality in the Black community is what I have a problem with, considering it contributes to damaging outcomes for both gay and non-gay Black men. Why damaging outcomes for non-gay Black men? Because many non-gay Black men resort to the most foolish means of evincing their “masculinity” to prevent even the slightest critique or questioning of their masculinity from emerging.

      Yes, I agree with you that it can be easy to just know some people are gay in quite a number of cases. Many people leave you no doubt that they are gay.

      Yes, God gave us good sense. We can often be wrong with that good sense too when we couple it with constructed (false) realities about what is straight and what is gay, and what is masculine and what is non-masculine. Many Black men believe that men who care about what they wear, how they look, speak well, and etc. are gay or questionable or perhaps bisexual. I just want to suggest that sometimes our judgements, even those we consider to be sound judgements, can be coated, absorbed, and/or distorted by societal constructions of what things should be and should look like.

      Yes, women have been fooled by down low men in Atlanta and all over the country. It would be a better American society, however, if men didn’t have to feel like they need to be down low.

      Yeah, I have judged men when I thought they were gay too, but this critical self-reflection is what makes me generate a post like this one to cause us to think critically about the formation and use of our judgements and to cause to think critically about why we think the way we do and act the way we do. Good response! I love the “Devil’s Advocate reporting for duty” responses because they promote critical thought and discourse and advance (or lead to) understanding(s).

  4. “Yes, women have been fooled by down low men in Atlanta and all over the country. It would be a better American society, however, if men didn’t have to feel like they need to be down low.”

    Too true….

    I can admit that I judge people in that I make assumptions based on my perceptions but I don’t judge in that I don’t treat anyone different based on my perceptions. As long as I don’t feel that my physical well-being is in jeopardy than I try to let everyone be comfortable in their own skin.

  5. Try being a hooker and before too long, that whole judging thing goes right out the window! Example: Client comes in with wedding ring on. OMG, he’s married, the cheater, the scum! But look what I’m doing, certainly isn’t my place to judge. Come to find out, yes he is married. To a wife who has been undergoing chemotherapy for over a year for breast cancer that has metastasized into her liver and lungs. She no longer has the capability to get out of bed, she is sick from radiation all the time, and much less has the ability or desire to cuddle and comfort her husband or show any affection more than a hint of a smile. He hires an escort for womanly comfort, no danger of emotional attachments, no danger of the escort calling him when he is surrounded by family to ask if he is thinking of her. He doesn’t have to lie to get just an hour of physical comfort and affection. He doesn’t have the mental capacity at the time to put out the charm to find a girlfriend. Many would say this is still wrong but sometimes the desire for companionship is stronger.

    Ha, I remember the time a client came to my door who was quite effeminate and my first though was that he was gay. No. He was quite heterosexual but had a difficult time finding a girlfriend, much less having sexual companionship, because everyone else thought he was gay.

    Point being, I think sometimes judging people is reactionary and I’m sure we all do it at some point or another. We can however, be wrong in our judgments and I think we should realize that too.

    1. While I think that the married man should have been investing his dominant time in supporting his wife through such a difficult time, I do understand his human need for sexual fulfillment and sexual companionship. Yes, people often misjudge men who they think are gay, but those are often the men who give many women the sexual experiences of their lifetime, and then those women no longer believe that they are gay anymore–they end up trying to see when they can have sex with those men again. Yes, I agree very much that we have to realize that our judgments can be wrong. Some people just have too much pride to realize that they can be wrong. Thanks for reading and your response!

  6. Too often our society judges others without levying real solutions, options for new behavior, change that is lasting. We simply look, point, and shake our head as if to acknowledge a failing but we also seem to disallow room for redemption. Redemption isn’t always afforded to all of us–prominent people or little known, less famous people.

    Lindsay Lohan is judged by most of us to be a “grown up woman lost” and the array of charges and court appearances related to drugs, drinking, probation violations, she is still able to navigate without being shunned in Hollywood. Now imagine we were discussing R&B singer Brandy (same court history, etc.) would she be judged the same as Lindsay, get the same 2nd, 3rd, chances? Who knows?

    Judgement has its place, it acts as a corrective tool for poor behavior. Some of us deserve to be judged, my opinion only.

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