Cultural Critique / Pop Culture / Random Thoughts from an Uppity Negro / The Color Line

It’s Easy To Hate, So Don’t

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Notwithstanding the great urban prophetic voice of comedian Katt Williams, I think black folk “hate” on each other a bit too much for my comfort.

There’s a thin line between legitimate criticism levied against an individual versus just hatin’ on another just because you can.  As I see it, too many of us suffer from the “I’m -the-only-enlightened-one” disease that somehow allows an individual to think that just because they said it that it’s right, and moreover that it’s some brilliant insight that has never been recognized before.  As a budding intellectual, I think criticism is what ultimately progressed humanity into the next era and the next realm of thinking, but hatin’ does nothing but tear down one another.  It’s mean and it’s nasty, and above all, its unnecessary.

I’ve often thought about changing the name of this blog simply because I’ve noticed that I’ve always tried to give an opposing opinion on an issue.  I’ve thought about calling it “The Dissenting Opinion,” “The Small Still Voice,” “The Devil’s Negro Advocate” or “Let Me Be Clear” or anything that provides for an opposite viewing of an opinion.  Let me be clear, I utterly detest groupthink with a positive passion!  By in large our society is structured on the ideals of majority rules and what’s good for most people.  One need only recall this country’s history of slavery to see what a majority rules modus operandi can produce.  I’ve been told by some close friends, point blank, “Who thinks like that?” after hearing a response to a particular conversation topic, but I realised that when we fail to even engage opposing thought how intelligent are we really?  The ability to engage an opposing thought and still arrive at the same conclusion garners my respect rather than someone who fails to listen and critically digest their own opinions.  You don’t have to buy into my argument, but you damn sure better listen to it!

Over the course of the last few years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve met some cyber personalities, some good, some bad; some I respected, some I don’t and even some I utterly don’t like at all–with no redeeming cyber qualities.  And usually it is for the reasons I’ve outlined above: based on my logic (which may or may not be faulty, I can admit that) many of these people fall into the trap of groupthink where no opposing opinion is heard.  And because of the majority rules mindset, they just regarded me as some pariah, and therefore made it easy to dismiss anything I had to say.

What is an interesting phenomena is that somehow we engage this idea of ontological blackness as a rubric of how much we decide to “hate” on a person: depending on how “black” a person is how much we’ll hate on them.  An easy case is Condoleeza Rice or Clarence Thomas.  Because most blacks have decided in our collective consciousness that these two are not black then it’s easy to just hate on them with no deep critical thought into why we dislike them.  This is coupled with other phenomenon is that when an individual does things or says things that do align with our collective psyche, we justify our hatin’ on them because we somehow find a way to label them a “sellout” or the famous phrasing “Uncle Tom.”

That being said, here are some major personalities within the black community that I feel bear another looksie:

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey — We love to hate on Oprah.  We call Oprah every other name in the book and refer to her as one of the biggest sellouts there is.  Generally we say its because she caters to a largely white audience.  I always thought that it was an interesting analysis of her because Oprah has been so intentional about promoting black womanhood and doing things for black people.

She came under major criticism even here in Chicago when she decided to build the school for young girls and young women in South Africa and didn’t build one here stateside.  Okay, fair enough question, but honestly, would American girls have appreciated a school built just for them in quite the same way as overseas?  Moreover, I’m sure the bureaucracy that Oprah would have endured to build a school, even a private one in a major city would have been massive and one would have asked was it even worth the headache.  Ultimately, it makes the haters look as if they’re looking for a handout and not hand up.

By in large, the people that hate on Oprah automatically don’t watch her show, which to me means that you’re speaking from a limited viewpoint which means you’re attempting to offer a critique on severely limited facts, therefore, you’re just hatin’ because it’s en vogue to hate on Oprah.

Tyler Perry — Because of his character Madea and the comedy associated with the character, it makes it much easier to take the “coonin'” and “shuckin’ and jiving” route to criticize Tyler Perry’s gospel plays and his subsequent movies.  But for me this argument falls magnanimously bankrupt against a demographic that watched the coonery that watched “Martin” to “The Wayan’s Brothers” and most certainly the bamboozlement that was “The PJs” and we suddenly get self-righteous watching a Tyler Perry movie.

The unadulterated hatin’ that’s heaped upon Perry is always interesting to me because I can’t help but wonder the why behind it.  I mean Perry actually made it.  He arrived. By all accounts he’s successful and he’s done what we encourage our young black men and women to do with their lives.  No longer is he restricted to the realm of just writing and directing and having to finance out of private funding to produce like so many others like Robert Townsend and Jon Singleton, but he has his own production company with their own backlot.  Spike Lee’s comments toward Tyler Perry come off as professional jealousy and snobbery.

I’ll be the first to say that some of his movies didn’t quite work for me and his two sitcoms do absolutely nothing for me, but I’ve yet to hear a convincing reason why Tyler Perry is such a detriment to black culture.  Granted the rumors about his sexuality and the sexuality of some of his cast members provides salacious news, going the “gay” route just to talk about him is a sucker punch move and comes off as homophobic in the year 2010.  Let the guy be successful.

Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton — I wrote whole blogs in defense of these two. First off, being about five blocks east of Operation PUSH, I remember my parents dragging me on Saturday mornings to go to the weekly services.  And over the last year or so, I’ve went on my own volition.  And I’ve occasionally caught a couple of services on a live-streaming feed.  With that in mind, I sort of follow Jesse Jackson–beyond the soundbytes.  And I can say with a fair degree of certainty that Jesse Jackson stays on message without any equivocations.  Sure he may have made the highly inappropriate comment about castrating our current president during the campaign season, and no doubt Jesse is about the money, but when he speaks, he’s on message and he’s saying the right thing.  So to those who don’t like Jesse, when was the last time you heard him speak?  Have you just been listening to soundbytes? Have you heard full interviews of him on the evening news shows?  If you just dismiss him using “I just don’t like him” as your reasoning, you’re entitled to that feeling, but hatin’ card is revoked, get a better reason!

I levy the same push back to those who don’t like Al Sharpton: when was the last time you listened to his daily talk show?  Granted Al may go a bit religious every once in a while and he loses my witness everytime he has the fool of a “prophet” E. Bernard Jordan come on, but as far as the regular discourse of his show Al Sharpton is always on message as well, and he’s quick to put some of his callers in check when they start going off on misinformation.  Are you hatin’ on him because of his perm? That’s probably more a personal issue with you than it is about him and his “blackness.”   Why do we choose to “hate” and  unfairly criticize individuals who are saying what we need to hear and walking to the walk (in some respects) of fighting civil rights causes.

Currently, right now, there’s only three black men in this country that can call a press conference and have national press agents be there–and one of them is the President of the United States.  Don’t hate, congratulate

Tavis Smiley, Michael Eric Dyson (and sometimes Cornel West) — Let’s be honest: we don’t like Tavis because he supported Hillary.

There I said it.

Ever since early 2008, it’s been a wrap for Tavis.  The only decent criticism that has been charged against Tavis was that he had all of these corporate sponsors when he was still hosting the State of the Black Union.  Which I thought was a valid point, but nonetheless made a specious argument by the same blacks who run to Wal-Mart everyday, just because, or the same black folks that do business with Wells Fargo.  I mean, if you don’t like Tavis,I better not find Wal-Mart receipts lying around your house. I always felt that for many of those that went with the tide when it suddenly became en vogue to not like Tavis, that it was really just them being jealous that Tavis hadn’t invited them to sit on the panel at a State of the Black Union.

By the same token, people hate on Dyson calling him an intellectual masturbator just making himself feel good because he uses big words and talks fast.  I want to know since when do we hate on someone for being smart?  Oh, right! Doh!  It must have happened when being smart was equated with being white. HA!  I want to know what’s preventing these people from picking up a dictionary and increasing their vocabulary.

And for any of those that have attempted to criticize those two, what books by those authors have you read?  I had a friend tell me she didn’t Dyson for those reasons and when I asked her what books of Dyson’s had she read, she lied and said she had, but when I asked specific questions she started stuttering: liar!

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Out of the select few personalities I highlighted, the major charge that persons had against those people, in addition to foundational questions about their “blackness” or whether they had “sold out” or not, were criticisms about them “talking too much” and “not doing anything.”

Two points, and then I’m done.

1) What have you done?  Apparently, all you’re doing is listening.  Has not their message spurned you to get off of your lazy assets and go out into your community and do something.  The true grassroots movers and shakers in this country, be they liberals or conservatives understand that “all politics are local.”  The people I mentioned all have national platforms.  That’s why Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has branch offices across the country.  And even when callers have called in from states like Utah and Hawai’i with civil rights grievances, he tells the callers “I don’t think we got an office out there, but stay on the line and let someone get some contact information from you” because he’s only one person.  What are you doing.

2) Who says talking isn’t doing something?  I think we forget that that which we listen to informs our consciousness.  From the sermons we hear on Sunday morning, to the music we listen to in the car to the sage wisdom we may get from a grandparent all influences our consciousness and affects the logic processes that we go through on a day to day basis dictating our every thought and action.

So, lets take the high road and not hate, that’s the easy way out.  I challenge you to not switch on the autopilot function, but to engage the controls and begin to think for yourself.  As kids we’re told to “dare to be different” well, I ask, how different are you really if you think like everyone else?

Who else do you think black folks love to hate on, just because?  Who do you hate on and why do you feel justified in that feeling?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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4 thoughts on “It’s Easy To Hate, So Don’t

  1. In my experience, Oprah and Tyler Perry aren’t hated on by the black community. They are the sacred cows in my opinion. Folks get irate whenever their names are brought up in an ignorant fashion or when they receive valid and reasonable critiques.

  2. I can easily explain the Tyler Perry hate. While I don’t share it (I’ve pretty much watched all his plays and movies up to this point and liked most of them), I can easily see people hating him for any of these reasons that I myself have found problematic with his works:

    1. Religious Peddling: The whole “You’ll have the perfect family with 2.5 kids, a big house, and a fabulous career as long as you believe in God and go to church” message can irk a lot of non-religious or non-christian folk. Also, I sometimes see Tyler Perry films equating morality with being religious, and despite being Christian myself, I find tons of problems in that (probably the only problem I have with his films other than whats written below).

    2. Stereotypical Black Characters along with “A man can save the day!” Plots: You have Madea who can be considered a Mammy character depending on how you analyze her, then you have the stereotypical sassy black woman character that pops up during his movies (such as Angela in Why Did I Get Married), along with completely unrealistic plot lines with unrealistic men who basically “rescues” the “damsel” in distress (Diary of a Mad Black Woman). That can QUICKLY make anybody rage.

    As for Al Sharpton, he does contribute quite a bit (so I’m not too mad at him), but sometimes I have to say he can irritate the crap out of me. I’ve found that he completely takes over during interviews and can sometimes come off as egotistical. Also, quite a few times Al Sharpton has completely ignored problems within the black community until it became a public spectacle he can personally benefit from, so sometimes he can seem to be doing things more for his own benefit rather than the benefit of the people he is helping.

    On the other hand, I don’t get the Oprah, Tavis Smiley, etc etc hate what so ever.

  3. Oprah –
    I think there is a perception that she does not care about the least of us (for lack of a better term) in this country. The South African school is just one part of it. I do not know what her reasons were for not building the school in South Africa and not the United States. I do hope that she built the school in South Africa based solely on need and not any difficulties she might have had building it and running it here. If the latter had anything to do with the location, I think that might not look good to the Oprah haters. I am curious as to what people thought about her treatment of Ludacris when he came on the show promoting “Crash”.

    Tyler-
    I refuse to watch anything Tyler Perry does. I do not hate him. His work does not interest me. However the previous comments seem to be in agreement with what I have read and heard about Tyler Perry’s work.
    On a slightly related note, how is it that black people are so protective of the “black brand” that they have to criticize anyone who comically shows some not-so-flattering images of the “black brand”? I agree that there is some foolishness out there that needs to just go away, but if someone thinks it is okay to enjoy Tyler Perry in a dress but not Shawn and Marlon Wayans in a dress (never seen “White Chicks”), I think that they are being somewhat hypocritical.

    Jesse and Al-
    Raven’s comment on Sharpton sums up what a lot of people (myself included) think of both of them. However there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that they do not get any credit for.

    Tavis-
    It’s not that he supported Hilary (which I do not necessarily agree that he did), it’s the perception that he criticized Barack for not showing up to SOBU and has kept criticizing him because of it. Then there was the time he went on the TJMS, criticized people for talking without acting, and called on some “Black leaders” to show up at a conference. The “Black leaders” gave him a verbal smackdown because of it. That kind of stuff will not sit well with a lot of people.

    Michael and Cornel-
    I sometimes enjoy listening to what they have to say, but they can be some verbose negroes. I think that is the problem with those two. It is not their intelligence, it is that they can be so wordy that people stop paying attention to what they have to say.

  4. Hate? “Hate” is probably the wrong word for what’s going on.

    It’s “Envy”.

    A lot of the so-called “haters” are, in reality, envious of the successes that others enjoy, successes that the “haters” were not able to bring to fruition. So the “haters” are really envious of people who have managed to go on to big successes while “haters” are still stuck where they are.

    There’s also this pathology in the black community that’s the nexus of the “crabs in a barrel” mentality: “if everyone don’t make it, then no one makes it”. Therefore, if the person envied doesn’t bend over backwards (and eventually break themselves) and give their fellow peers a hand-up (or a handout, as these people rather prefer), then these very same people proceed to pull down and destroy the person they envy. After these people are finally pulled down by all the “hate”, well, the “haters” kinda wander off to “hate” on other things. These people are sure as hell not going to engage in putting anything back together — that’s just not their mindset.

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