The Limits of Blackness: Don’t Hate!

I hate the term “hating.”

I hated the original term “playa hating” and now I hate how the word has spread and is now applied to everything. You can’t do any decent criticism without being accused of “hating” nowadays. This isn’t because hating doesn’t exist. Au contrar! The internet has made hating bigger (and more anonymous) than ever. Hence when you do have a legitimate point like, let’s say, “Solange Knowles is of average talent and her album sales reflect that,” you could be called a “hater.”

If you say, “I’m not a fan of this modernization of staid tradition, so I don’t like it when the Obamas are overly casual in their demeanour,” that’s hating.

There’s “hating” and there’s opinion and there’s the honest truth, but no one bothers to tell the diference anymore. Not since Master Percy ruined he term in the 1990s, rendering any attack as mere “you’re jealous” even if you were not jealous and in fact, actually disliked his music. Negative opinions and critiques didn’t matter anymore because every comment was perceived as an attack. It was the ultimate cry of machismo and confidence.

Every mention of an error is either a burgeoning flamewar for those who take the time care that things are done correctly or an affront on “bringing someone down” when they work in a competitive industry that involves criticism both constructive and mean-spirited.

It’s a gauzy, unrealistic world. One where we think we can put our heroes in cocoons and protect them from the fact that if they were forced to compete in the mainstream they might not do as well. After all, those who could “cross over” did. Now we sit holding the “losers” hand making up reasons why it didn’t work out. Every reason but they truth.

Maybe you weren’t that good.

Of all the “hateration” I hate the most is when there is a national radio call out for some NATO of hating. Where an act against us one is perceived as an act against us all. This happens a lot. (OJ, R Kelly, Michael Vick, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Michael Jackson, Tavis Smiley, DL Hughley, 50 Cent, etc.) that happens when someone says something moronic or, worse, vaguely racist against a “protected” individual. (How you get this protection and maintain it, I’ll never know. Didn’t help Tavis in the long term.)

During these NATO style call out you are ordered for your outrage t9 match everyone else’s outrage lest you be some haterade drinking, sympathizer.

Point out that Tyler Perry’s films are poorly made in comparison to other independent studio, Sundance quality or art house films: Hating.

Point out that Beyonce, already a multi-talented woman, might not be that good of an actress: Hating.

Don’t enjoy some sitcom or celebrate a black TV show or have the gall to call it shyte in public: Hating.

There is need to protect our own, whether they deserve that protection or not after years of mutually assured collective persecution. Well, I hate to say it, but “I’se free now. We’s all free. So I’se can finally say I’se don’t like dem chitterlings dat young ‘un is sellin.’ And I ain’t not never gwine to eat dem nows dat I’se free and I’se don’t care what yoose tink!”

The latest act of NATO-style defense against “HOW DARE HE!” hateration due to our overall sloppy, excuse making standards as the mutually oppressed involves the case of Chris Chambers, trapped between a middling celebrity book and an angry author claiming plagiarism.

Now, the latest comes from comedian/radio jock Steve Harvey. I sat in Barnes & Noble over coffee and stale scone and read the whole thing in about 30 minutes. I don’t know if that’s good, bad or by design–given that a big demo in his audience are…okay…bammas who crave something “uplifting” yet a quick read from one of the their superstars. The book’s nothing offensive or sily, yet nor is it exceptional. The thing that sets it apart is that some people are claiming Steve plagiarized.

In this craven publishing world (now a subset of the craven mass market entertainment sector) that’s not a sin. Truly. Furthermore, why plagiarize in such an elementary genre? Recall the target audience. Indeed, how many such books merely puke up cliches, Biblical passages, the obvious or the false? The celebrity or pseudo-shrink or false prophet mega pastor (what would Jesus think of that word: mega-pastor? ha!) authors get nice advances for shoveling pablum to an eager public. Think about it this way, in Steve’s defense: You gotta be of meager talent to plagiarize stuff like this. Or, more insidious: you and your agent, publishers think your fans have infantile tastes and don’t know any better?

Chambers, a regular reader and commenter at this site, wrote a piece on Steve Harvey’s new book and some accusations of plagiarism that have surfaced online. Negroes across the interwebs shrugged. (Or bitched, depending on their level of racial solidarity.) At Facebook, Chambers met his first real resistance.

Status: Christopher Alan Chambers is snickering at a woman who’s buying Steve Harvey’s book. Boy, you all are you own worst enemies sometime.
7:56 a.m.: aw, let the sista buy the book! what’s it to U anyway, U R happily married to a wonderful sister. πŸ™‚
7:57 a.m: What do u have against the book?
8:03 a.m.: [CHAMBERS] First, it’s dumb. Second, he’s clearly writing it–if he wrote it himself–to get back at his ex’s (hmmm). Third, why take advice from a celeb? Fourth, it’s dumb (repeat). Fifth, has he plagiarized it? Sixth, if you’re going to plagiarize, plagiarize something important. lol Time to take a stand against crap. This is the age of Obama.
8:06 a.m.: If I’m blunt, I apologize but it is indeed time to draw a line in the sand…
8:12 a.m.: Awww, give the man a break, Chris. Every book can’t be a about the tragic mulatto. LOL
8:40 a.m.:At least she’s reading!
8:54 a.m.: Sounds personal…did Stvev Harvey diss u @ a book signing or something?

Around that time I stepped in for my two cents. (Granted, I was all, “What book?” When someone suggested it to me last week.):

Did you know that another black woman wrote a book with a similar title and content that was more widespread than Sharon’s book (Gail Evan’s “Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman”), so technically Harvey is ripping off pretty much every self-help book made in the last 30 years since Betty Friedan’s “Feminist Mystique?”

Harvey didn’t create a Read Morerevolution, he (and his underwriter) just found a clever way to put common sense to a price tag.

Dude is talented, but this ISN’T NEW, starting with the list of self-help books that target women by telling them to use tools men use. Once you include books by white folks you will find there was never shit novel about this book from jump.

The point is, if you go all over the internet you will find accusations of “hateration” in this “dancerie” over pointing out obvious things about Harvey’s book. Crabs in a bucket mentality is bad, but blind love of subpar crap is just as awful. Just … just stop it.

I’m proclaiming that it’s OK to think something sucks if you’re not making personal attacks on their character. Re: Steve Harvey is funny sometimes but overrated and I don’t really know the difference between his and Tom Joyner’s shows, but I was with him when he was raising hell over Merlin Santana’s murder and that’s all I know about the man.

Oh. And the “church” versus “chuuuuuuurch,” plus “packed club in hell” routines from the 90s were funny.

But seriously, black people, we don’t need to leap to everyone’s defense over every thing. Some shit is just baaaad. It is OK to admit that it is bad. The white folks seriously aren’t paying attention. At least not THAT closely. As a famous man once said, jokingly, “If there is hate in your heart, let it out!” Don’t pretend to like things that suck just because a black person is there. Demand better so we can get better of our own. So we can stop pretending to love one pitiful thing, then giong to see “Iron Man 2” just like everyone else and shrug, forever settling for less because we execpt less.

And this isn’t NATO. The boys in the robes aren’t coming right now. Criticism helps you improve, grow and create better art. If we sit around going “I’m OK, you’re OK” all day we’re really gong to start slacking. So while there’s no need to be mean, do the right thing.

If the shit sucks, say so. (Even if it’s me.)

If there’s hate in your heart … let it out. And the Limits of blackness are back ya’ll.

This is where the healing begins.

Talk to me.

27 thoughts on “The Limits of Blackness: Don’t Hate!

  1. Thank you. Long ago I got tired of muttering under my breath "It’s not all good", but I also learned that examples don’t usually help. I didn’t mind that much being called or thought of as a hater, because in a certain sense it’s true. I feel like if there’s nothing you hate, there might be a lot you haven’t looked at very closely. I could be wrong. Isn’t hating some stuff what happens when you’re passionate about things and get exposed to enough of the real world to get to some of the bad stuff? Or am I missing out on a narrower definition of hater that all the cool kids are using? Whatever the case may be, thank you for your post; it made me feel good to read that idea written by someone with obvious brains such as yourself.

  2. First thing that came to my mind is "Hater Players" from Talib Kweli and Mos Def’s "Blackstar" album: "Reverse psychology got em scared to say when shit is whackOut of fear of being called a hater…imagine that!"

  3. In people’s heart of hearts they know when something is shyte. For instance, they will talk up Kelly as a great artist and powerful dark skinned sister but do not buy her records…meanwhile they bitch about Bey and are the first people doing the ‘Single ladies ‘dance… My point here is talk is cheap but most often when it comes to putting one’s money after their mouth suddenly everyone disappears.P.S. This makes me feel less guilty about not liking Usher’s new wife…like I was not loving Black love enough or hating on a dark-skinned sister. After some soul searching I realise that I am just not feeling her. But hey he is the one married to her so if he likes it then I love it…just not her per se….lol…it isn’t always HATE to have a dissenting opinion

  4. I completely agree with this post. Over on Afrobella you can’t even discuss beauty product lines without being called a hater. Just because Carol’s Daughter or Miss Jessie’s products do not work on my hair does not mean I’m a hater. Either the product works or it doesn’t.

  5. Then miseesteh ee Danielle. <Don’t hate Danielle>LOLSeriously, I hear you on that. The "Don’t hate" thing just gives permission for everyone to produce plenty of uninspiring crap.

  6. Years ago when I saw that Beyonce and Halle were becoming "the acceptable negroes," and I said, hey, we need to call mainstream Hollywood on using two black women to represent all black actress, I was called a hater. I obviously hated "light skinned" women. I must be ugly (Despite the fact that I many men and women tell me the absolute opposite). Hey, why can’t we criticize a Beyonce or a Halle without bringing down the entire black race? Why couldn’t I just be happy for these women, after all, I’m black too. The term hating just allows people to make irrelevant and shallow arguments without having any support to back them. The term, hating, shuts down conversation, and honest dialogue. When I see a Beyonce site, I have to only make positive statements because I am not supporting the entire black race somehow. :()

  7. I love the idea of hatin’. The term succinctly describes the petty jealousy observed in so many situations.It’s funny you should bring up Mr. Chambers in a discussion on hatin’. If Mr. Chambers was just a public intellectual commenting on the lack of quality reading materials marketed to African Americans, his criticism would have weight. Mr. Chambers, however, is the author of two (and a half) mystery novels and the editor of a short story collection. The three volumes will probably sell a fraction of units sold by Steve Harvey. His commentary of Harvey’s book is the definition of hatin’.Get it. When you are just offering a honest opinion, that maybe criticism (and not a bad thing). If you are offering an opinion and you don’t understand why people won’t buy your book instead, especially when it’s so much better-that’s textbook hatin’. (Very unproductive and petty)

  8. Hi there Danielle!Thank you for saying this one!!I am SOOO very tired of black folks who are threatened by critical thinking… or the notion that all things black ARE NOT idolized and elevated by every black person.It’s just tired… tired… tired….

  9. ***Faith Tabernacle Jesus is Christ and He will hold me in His arms forever Pentecostal Baptist Church of the the Living God C.O.G.I.C.***In short, I mean "Churrrrchh". I concur with errthang this post stands for.

  10. Personally, I don’t hate the player, just the game. Things that I learned today: 1) Chris Chamber is a writer, may be jealous that his books aren’t selling too well ; 2)Steve Harvey is a possible plagiarist and his books are selling like hotcakes; and 3) Snob wants to critique people without others hating on her.

  11. I’m sorry, but…GTFOH with "at least she’s reading". People CANNOT be serious with that in the ’09. I refuse!

  12. I am in total agreement with the whole "hating" stifling of dissent phenomenon. When things are wrong, they are just wrong. I get criticized all the time for being in agreement with Bill Cosby on some black issues – "Well, you’re with a white guy, you just hate black men." Untrue. False. I just think we can do better. I was actually exasperated when I went to the bookstore, went to the bestsellers section, and saw a dedicated African-American section. Now, instead of the Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Sista Soulja, Langston Hughes-caliber material that we all KNOW we can produce, what do I see? Trash, trash, and more trash. Instead of illuminating the black experience to others, we are glorifying so many of the negative stereotypes that we complain about in secret, then when we go out in public, we are decried as "haters." *World, hear my Caribbean sucking of teeth for 15 seconds…..*

  13. @Brownybelle- I HATE the "African-American" section at bookstores! Okay, the actual creation of said section might not have anything to do with black people perpetuating "blackness." But it drives me crazy! Why is there book segregation? And why are the majority of the books about thug/street/hood life?? Now that’s the blackness crap that I can’t stand!

  14. if something is bad, it’s bad…that’s it!there is a difference between saying something is bad without some sort of logical reasoning could be considered "hating"Q)why don’t you like those "African American" books?A) because all they talk about is the bad aspects about african american life, as if these are the definitive source of African American life…Q)why do people idolize other people with no talent?A)because people are sheep!Q) you mean…you want to get an education and help others to open their minds to society,cultures and thinking progressively?A) YES!…and people wonder why others view us as "ghetto",etc. i am very glad that there are blogs and websites like this,i dont feel alone in my thinking.

  15. @BrownybelleSista Soulja wrote what is considered one of the seminal works of ghetto/street lit, The Coldest Winter Ever.(Is it hatin’ to bring that up ? πŸ˜‰ )

  16. Don’t authors routinely critique other authors? I mean I just read a magazine full of books that were reviewed by writers who did not write them; I think this is standard practice in the publishing arena (of course I could be wrong, since I don’t work in publishing). Why can’t we consider the comments made by Chambers honest critique? Are we suggesting Chambers should not offer a review of a book, any book, because he is a writer? What if Chambers had offered praise rather than criticism, would his positive opinion have carried more weight or less weight since he is a writer? If so, what would we call him? I mean what is the opposite of hateration? Adoration?And will someone tell me just what the heck a ‘dancerie’ is………No. Seriously. What is it????

  17. Usually an author review includes both strengths and weaknesses of a piece or book. Did Mr. Chambers speak to the strong points of Harvey’s guides. I don’t think so. Biased review + an author’s disappointment that the reading public isn’t buying his work like they will Harvey’s = hateration

  18. … Maybe I’m biased here, but I don’t think Solange is all that bad at what she does. I honestly liked her Sol-angel album a whole lot more than Beyonce’s. She’s gotten bashed so much because she’s looking for attention with her uber-star older sis and all. On the other hand, let’s take a look at Michael, J5, and Janet. Janet already had older siblings getting it, but the fact that she was able to break in and become a superstar in her own right says a lot about her star power, especially since Latoya, to this day, is still trying to release a new half-assed album or guest star on some reality show.

  19. I never thought Steve Harvey was all that bad, I thought his show was funny sometimes. (he did have a show, did he not?) Can’t hate on him, though, in these hard economic times you gotta do what you gotta do. That money needs to come from somewhere…. somewhere legal. But I do hope he wasn’t stupid enough to actually plagiarize. Everybody and their mama’s writing a book now, I heard the Hannah Montana girl, Miley Cyrus, has a new book coming out… or maybe it already came out. The gal’s 16 max, not sure what the hell she’s gone through that she’d need to write a book about it. SMDH.

  20. I guess I’m a hater, because I think that Steve Harvey is a borderline mysogynist who can’t write his way out of a wet paper bag. In addition, I think The Coldest Winter Ever is one of the worst books ever written and I despise all street lit! Yeah, I said it! πŸ™‚

  21. I’ve been called a hater for saying that I don’t like Beyahweh’s music. It has no substance for me. And I don’t want to hear, "Well, it’s pop music" because pop music has produced music with substance before. If I don’t feel her music has progressed since her DC days, I am not hating….but her rabid fans don’t see it that way.I hate all street lit, though I must confess to having read "The Coldest Winter Ever"…ONCE. I haven’t revisited the genre of which it is namesaked, since then.Steve Harvey himself is a Hater; check his attitude bathed in all its stank in regards to Bernie M.A.C. (RIP) receiving the role of "Frank Catton" for not just one, but all three installments of the box office hit, "Ocean’s 11". Harvey talked so much smack about Mac, then had the nerve to say something upon Mac’s death. Harvey’s routine used to be that he hated rap music and music with no substance, yet whose butt does he lick on the regular? JayZ and Beyonce! He tried playing her B’Day album on his station (before the monster pop hit Irreplaceable debuted), he played that b.s. Deja Vu and Ring the Alarm, only coz he wanted ratings………since when do Ring the Alarm and Freakum Dress fit in with a traditional R&B/Soul format??? He’s the biggest butt-kisser there is, yet wants to call someone a hater when they don’t like his shady behind and the books he ‘signs his name to’. WHATEVER.

  22. Snob,I will take it one step further. I’m immune to accusation of hating (I got my shots :))I tend to say what I want to say, if I think it’s horrible and written by drugged monkeys in a zero g environment, then I’m sayin it. I could give a **** less if someone calls me a hater. And? It could be because I’m in the political science field and dissent is kinda par for the course. People in politics disagree about the color of the sky.

  23. Not much to say except EXCELLENT.Oh, maybe one more thing…..Steve Harvey has lost almost all of my respect. Michael Baisden annoys the s–t out of me. The standards of Black folks are WAY too low if we (general) believe that Steve Harvey’s book is gospel truth, in addition to other books in the genre. (His old bodyguard wrote a horrible book entitled "If You Want Closure, Start With Your Legs". WTF.)

  24. WOW!! Finally someone speaks the truth! I have been saying this for years. Just because I don’t like something/someone doesn’t make me a hater, it makes me an individual with an OPINION. Why do we all have to like the same things/people at the same time? There are alot of things and people that I don’t particularly care for. Case and Point: Mary Blige. I personally think she can not sing (again my opinion) and whenever I’m around a group of sista’s and I say "I don’t like Mary Blige" my statement is almost always followed by gasps, or really?!!. Now I don’t know her as a person and I can say that she truly has evolved, no doubt I aint mad at her!! And I commend her on her accomplishments, it’s just whenever I see her perform (especially live) I wonder how did she make it. Now Jill Scott can sing, I can see how she got there, Erykah Badu Can sing, I can see how she got there, Fantasia & Jennifer Hudson can sing, I can see how they made it, Jazmin Sullivan can sing, I can see how she made it, Beyonce can sing, I can see how she made it (plus it doesn’t hurt to have a great figure and a pretty face), plus so many other underground neo soul artists, but the Mary’s and Ashanti’s etc., etc., I just keep wondering how they got there. Finally, what puts me in a state of WTF??!! is when they compare Mary Blige to Patty Labelle, Anita Baker, and Aretha Franklin. OH LAWD sumbody hep me!! Anyway, this is my opinion and trust, I aint hatin.

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