Is it "Hating" to Expect More??

(Too much Microsoft news lately….like three stories back to back! Gotta break up the monotony.)

From time to time I frequent what I like to call, “Black News” sites (like ConcreteLoop.com and others). They’re a great source of information and since I’ve been out of school for “a little while”, they’re a great place to keep pace with “what the young kids are saying”. (Sadly, they’re also a stark reminder of my aging ways and opinions.)

One trend I’ve begun to notice is somewhat disturbing. Frequently the site hosts will post information about a celebrity that leads to a public debate. For instance, recently folks who frequent the site have been critical of Beyonce Knowles for “media overexposure” on one hand, while her album appears to be somewhat lackluster on the other. The same is true of Janet Jackson. Almost the exact same situation — lots of media coverage, but an album that doesn’t quite reach the level of past efforts. On any message board there will be a certain contingent of people who will complain about anything. But there are occasionally a few folks who have well thought out critical responses to media stories.

Today I noticed that under the posting featuring Beyonce’s “Got Milk” Ad with her Mom (Tina Knowles), there are a lot of critical responses. Some just don’t like Beyonce and truly do want to say something negative just because she’s famous. I’ll agree — those folks are just haters. But a few seem to be fans who realize the negative impact that overexposure (and sub-standard albums) can have on your long term career. And then there are others who just didn’t care for the ad. While personally I thought the ad was pretty tasteful, does it make me (or anyone else) a “hater” just because I have some critical feedback to offer?

I’ve often heard it said by thirty and forty-something folks that “calling older artists ‘Old School’ has driven a wedge between the older generation and the young.” They claim that Caucasian artists who fall out of the limelight are considered “Classic” and are put on a pedestal (like the Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers). But when it comes to older R&B and Hip Hop artists, (Chuck D, Atlantic Starr) rarely do they receive the same respect. Similarly, I think the whole concept of “hate-sighting” is driving a wedge between us. There are times when as older fans of 80s and 90s artists, my opinion may truly be out of touch. But in my honest opinion, “taste is timeless”. If something is done in good taste, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 1906 or 2006 — it will be seen as such. It seems as if the second that someone expresses a thought that is anything short of a glaring compliment about another celebrity of color, the accusation is that, “you must be hating”. “Stop hating.” “Don’t hate, celebrate.” “Don’t hate me cause you want to be me….” and all other variants of the sentiment.

I feel as if I’m all over the place with my thoughts tonight. Put simply, my challenge to the younger generation is this: Understand and be able to discern the difference between someone who’s “hating” and someone who’s seeking a higher standard.

You may get a job at Wal-Mart and expect me to be happy. And if I think that you have “Wal-Mart potential”, I may very well be happy. But if I see a young George Washington Carver or Granville Woods in your because of your gift in science, don’t consider it ‘hate’, if I express disappointment and challenge you to do more.

You may sing for a Talent Night show. To the audience, you may have brought the house down. But I — knowing your potential and having heard you on some of your best days — may say “I think you can do better.” Is that “hate”? (Actually, I think the “hateful” thing is to let someone walk away thinking they are doing great when in your heart you know they can do better. Usually you’ll see that from someone who wants you to stay confined to that area — it takes love to inspire you and push you to do more.)

And is it hating for me to reflect on the incredible career of William Drayton….. and now, even though he’s making significantly more money — probably more than he’s ever made as Chuck D’s hype man — express disappointment that for every great concert that he was a part of….and all the ways that he helped to make Public Enemy one of the most important groups of any genre in its time….. that he’ll probably be remembered less speaking out against Arizona not recognizing the King Holiday….. and more for living in a house with 10 women watching them degrade themselves in front of you? I guess to many folks, I’m considered a hater. But I like Flav. I respect the fact that he has to do what he has to do to take care of his family. But I’m brave enough to go against the grain and express the fact that I think he can do a lot better. And unlike many today, I still have my copy of “It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet.” I’m that voice at the talent show telling you — amidst the cheers — that I think you have the ability to do better.

Reflecting on my educational and professional careers, I’ve dealt with a variety of different authority figures. In my experience, the best influences on me were the folks who saw my potential and pushed me in some way to do more. “Is this the best that you can write?” “This is garbage — don’t give me garbage.” “I’d expect that from most of the other folks”. All of these are criticisms I’ve received. Actual criticisms over the years. And sadly, I feel as if many younger adults coming up today would “shake off” the lesson as “just some more people trying to hate on my skills”, and not someone who’s trying to get you to step up your game.

I guess this is a long way to go from “a picture of Beyonce and Tina drinking milk.” But to me it’s bigger than that. It’s about accepting criticism for what it’s worth. And I guess that’s where my heart is tonight. Don’t be afraid to challenge one another to do better. And as the receiver of that feedback, don’t cast it aside immediately as “someone who’s hatin’ on you” and perhaps receive it as constructive criticism. There will be folks who don’t understand your talent. There will be folks who don’t quite see the direction you’re headed in. But don’t mix those folks in with the ones who are trying to motivate you to do better.


2 Responses to “Is it "Hating" to Expect More??”

  1. 1 Jeff T
    September 29, 2006 at 1:15 am

    I have 3 comments about this article

    1. It’s so easy for people to sit around and praise or critisize a person or thing, that’s something people will always be good at doing. But it takes a whole lot more to criticize and offer suggestions. We may say “you can do better” but if you don’t offer any solutions than are you really motivating someone. In your example with Flava Flave, he could have a group of people say to him, damn flave you could be doing more with your show or you celebrity status and then you have the millions of people that continue to tune into his show along with the dollars he’s gettin and guest appearances on talk shows, etc. He unfortunately might be only hearing the voice of the ‘tv ratings’. So to criticize without suggesting a better alternative may not be as inspiring to some (this also depends on the receiving person).

    2. What about the people who are ‘challenged’ as you put it, to do better when they feel they’ve done their best. If they honestly feel they’ve done their best than any comments questioning that could result in them not hearing you or even them taking it as an attack. This is a major problem I see in today’s youth, people talking about the problems with the youth but not doing anything to help them expand their potential. I know you’re an exception in that you doing a great job with the youth of your church and we need more people to do more than just criticize.

    3. Take the things that people have said to you that has inspired you:
    “Is this the best that you can write?” “This is garbage — don’t give me garbage.” “I’d expect that from most of the other folks”.
    Now think of another time when someone else may have said similiar things but phrased it differently and you may have taken those comments as attacks on your person and dismiss it and say they don’t understand. My point is we’re human and sometimes people hear and don’t think, and people have feelings which cause them to lose the message or make an enemy out of a friend. Also, who it’s coming from matters. If a person has a group of friends they respect a lot and they give you a criticism or advice a person may listen, but if it comes from someone you respect much less or don’t even really know, then they may not even get heard.

    I agree, expecting more is not hatin’, it’s all in the delivery. And because you took time to express and explain, you’re clearly not hatin’.

  2. September 29, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    I respect your thinking on this. Here’s what I’m thinking. Often there are times when I’ll get the urge in my spirit to encourage someone or to let someone know when I think they might not by giving 100%. Often as a part of ministry, I’ll meet brothers and sisters who have gifts or talents that they aren’t fully utilizing (like singing, or preaching.) Now, I can’t sing. And I can’t preach. But if I feel like in my spirit that I need to encourage someone to try harder or do better, I’ll do it. If I meet someone I used to go to school with who I felt had great potential, but I happened to see her working at Wal-Mart, I may get the urge to remind her about her gifts. But that doesn’t necessarily obligate me to give her what her path should be. It would be nice if we had the specific alternative to offer. And I agree that for the unguided and uninspired it’s probably more helpful to offer them a specific goal. But sometimes it’s just a tap and a “hey — I believe in your gift and I think you should apply yourself more.” Personally speaking, if I only interceded when I had the answer, then I’d probably almost never offer words of encouragement. For me it starts to relay back to my relationship with Christ. Often it’s the folks who barely know about my gifts that will offer a word of guidance or encouragement that makes all the difference in the world.

    In the case of Flav, I didn’t really wanna put him on blast. I don’t know William Drayton personally (or his alias.) But having seen his work through the years, I’m sure that he’s talented enough to come up with something creative and still hold his head up high. Perhaps he feels that this is the best that he can do. If he’s okay with it, then who am I to judge? I just think there’s some gift that he might have to be as successful as he is on VH1 doing something else. Maybe not. I don’t really know him so I kinda regret having focused on him.

    Probably a good example of why I feel this way was when G4 bought TechTV and came over and “cleaned house”. When G4 moved in and eventually got rid of all of those great people, it was probably a horrible time for them. There aren’t that many tech-based TV stations. but I remember going to Leoville.com and Kevin Rose’s website and a few others and just offering words of encouragement. Leo went on to create an incredible podcast network. Kevin went on to astronomical success with Digg. Had I met Kevin during the fallout, I would have never been able to “offer him digg”. That’s a gift he had in himself (and the rest of the Revision 3 folks). Same with the podcast network. Sometimes I think you just need to offer folks encouragement and then let the spirit take over and give them the vision for how they’re going to direct that energy.

    Regarding the second point, I agree that it’s tough for kids. There’s so much that’s against them today. But I think God has given them a spirit of wisdom and discernment to counteract that. They are wiser at 13 than I was at 13. With this comes the ability to think more creatively. It would be more helpful if I had a specific person and situation to deal with (and everybody’s is different) but this is where the encouragement comes into play. One of their weaknesses is this microwave, instant gratification society that we live in. They don’t realize that it takes time and years to develop a gift and to earn what you want. Most of the older youth I mentor (like, 15-19 and sometimes higher) just know it all and don’t see that these are the crucial years. They want it NOW.

    It does get harder as they get older, and I don’t reach every kid. But I have seen some success. (The fact that they are in a place of worship and we operate on that common ground is a huge advantage — I would imagine it would be considerably more difficult if I were mentoring in a place where they had no spiritual foundation. I definitely don’t slight that.) I think where I’ve seen the most success in reaching out to kids are in three areas: Commitment, Tone and Commiseration. It gets really tough when they start getting older, but the first step is just to be committed if your schedule allows. Be around when you can. The second and thing is to commiserate. You need to self-disclose and talk about some of the demons that you’re dealing with or things that they might be dealing with that you still don’t have the answers to. And along with both of those things, your tone is everything. I get a very different response from a lot of the folks who try to reach kids, because they talk at them. “You kids don’t know how to….” and “You kids think you know….” All that does is distance them. If you talk to them and offer criticism in a loving way, they may look away and just kinda “nod and ignore”, but often that goes farther than yelling.

    You hit it right on the head at the end — we’re in synch regarding the tone. Tone is everything. I think had Bill Cosby directed his message in a more loving way, it may have been received differently. But as much as I agree, I think the life lesson that my path has truly taught me is that you’ve got to develop a tough skin. This doesn’t mean we should be cold or callous or insensitive. But it does take time to understand that criticism is going to come in a variety of different forms. Folks might laugh at your performance. You may get boos. You may get ignored. But I’ve found that the spirit that presses on usually ends up enjoying some kind of success. And this is the main point I think our young leaders who are inheriting the torch from Rev. Sharpton, Kwesi Mfume, Julian Bond, T.D. Jakes and Barack Obama need to understand. None of these men went through life without having to hear some sort of harsh criticism about their gift. They can either brush it off and say, “Who you talking to? I’m Barack Obama! I have 3 degrees! You’re just a hater.” Or, they can evaluate the criticism…. “Perhaps I don’t reach out enough?” “Perhaps I do need to speak more clearly — even though the woman who told me this speaks broken English?” “Perhaps I was a bit too strong in my speech?”

    It takes time to develop the gift of “dealing with criticism” but once it’s learned, it can be a tremendous advantage in helping you to continue on the road of self improvement.

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