What if I told you that I was going to design a folklore educational course and start a for-profit business based of the research and writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Harry Middleton Hyatt but, I was not going to give them credit or pay their respective estates royalties. What if I built this business and created an alternate universe where the lines of what is real and false are blurred, where I kept information on perspective people who I wanted to collect and rivals alike. What if I listened to the heartfelt stories of students and colleagues and, leaked skewed bits of their truth to paint anyone of them who challenged me as ungrateful souls who no longer deserved to be pitied. Would you still want to do business with me? Still follow me and listen to my shows?
What if I creatively crafted social media posts that would purposely draw the ire of animal rights activists against a single person and/or an entire religion just to get back at someone who did business with a potential competitor? How about if I created a colorful past of doing apprenticeships with people in places, pre-internet, that would never have me in their homes much less train me? Would you still fly, drive and spend your money with me? Come to my defense when I cry for long dead animals, lie about Caribbean cultural exoticism all while I sell parts from animals on the endangered species list and walk past a full human skeleton literally in my closet?
What if you did a public search to see if I had ever been sued in court and found that I had been and lost, would you still love me then? What if you talked to dozens of people who had to literally and figuratively, walk away from me with the clothes on their back, and they all called me a manipulative bitch, would I still be the sage and elder in your eyes?
What would you do if you read ‘Of Mules and Men’ and Volumes 2 & 3 and realized you could have saved yourself time and money?
What if all of the above was true but it wasn’t me, what if it was your idol? Spiritual leader?
What would you do when things are laid bare and you are left to decide? Would you remain part of the exclusive club of silent detractors who are either too scared to speak out pubicly or too disgusted to ever want to feel the funk on their skin again? Would you ignore what you have truthfully seen and been told or, would you take your business elsewhere?
I’m asking for a friend.