Yo Gotti Was Truth Telling...

Yo Gotti was truth telling...

“You a old hater!” ** You been hating for years, you are still about this shade throwing life. I have decided that as an old hater as in an hater who is old, it’s time to stop. But first I want to demystify how this happened, so perhaps not only can you stop, you can bring others along for the joyride.  It’s simple, haters are developed in middle school. 

Picture the classroom spelling bee in 6th grade. Everyone is spelling and laughing and there is one student we’ll call her Brittany who struggles with what the rest of the class calls an easy word. As they tease her, the teacher tells them to stop and reminds Brittany that she needs to study the vocabulary words weekly. 

Fast forward a few months later when there is a review in math around decimals as an intro to fractions. Brittany tells her teacher that she doesn’t understand and the teacher responds she should have learned this in 4th grade. Another student chimes in that they know it, they learned it in elementary school. A little laughter starts but is quickly stopped by the teacher. “Just pay attention,” she tells Brittany as the the conversation ends. This happens repeatedly to Brittany. A trusted and caring adult leader showed her “tough love” by telling her she should know, study, do better. Peers excel around her maybe not in grades and test scores but for sure in confidence. When Brittany is in eighth grade she is the young woman who not only doesn’t read aloud but laughs when someone volunteers to do it. “Hating” becomes her defense mechanism. People expect laughs from her, they expect her to never volunteer, and generally not do her work. When you ask her what she likes the answer is “nothing.” When you ask her what she is good at the answer is “nothing.” Brittany is a hater. 

In middle school it’s a few detentions here and there. In high school probably a few fights. She is going through the motions and trying to fly under the academic and co-curricular radar. She is bitter about it too. Her peers are doing well at things she used to like. Trying things she wishes she could try, but her memories of being shut down weigh heavier than those desires. So she makes jokes and points out flaws the way they were pointed out for her. She didn’t just become a hater, she was made. And like those old Shake n’ Bake commercials you helped. As a fan of chicken fried in hot grease this oven baked creation is not a good one.

So, what do you we do? I have a few suggestions because though Brittany developed these tendencies in middle school, you may meet her as an adult.

  1. In middle school help youth develop confidence. If they can’t do something well you pour into them of course but most importantly you need to help them identify what they do well. Help them be proud of it as well as encourage them to identify those skills in others with an appreciative eye. 
  2. In high school help youth excel at their passion. Too often we spend time telling youth what they could be instead of helping them identify what they want to be. No one wants to fail, be average, be confused, settle for less and it is our job to make sure that doesn’t happen. Every teen needs a cheerleader that has an unconditional desire to motivate and praise, and this person should be in addition to someone who is raising them. 
  3. In early adulthood support people through their mistakes and epiphanies. Whenever you are thinking “you should know better” remember if they did you wouldn’t be a witness to the moment. Hold people accountable while propelling them to their greatness. 
  4. Support business ventures. I am not saying invest in all your homegirls business ideas or buy your homeboys collection of t shirts, I’m simply saying support. Whether you purchase something, promote, or give private and prudent advice. Show them why you want them to do well. It has always boggled my mind why you don’t ask McDonald's about the ribless McRib but you berate your childhood friend for trying to grow a business. It doesn’t really boggle my mind, it just makes me sad that you too may be a hater.
  5. Offer feedback instead of laughter. Something haters are good at is playing the dozens, ribbin’, flamin’...hopefully you know one of those words. Overall, they are funny as ever. They point out things and can find humor except often at someone else’s expense. What if you said something positive about the target instead of laughing. Nothing kills a joke like silence and stoic faces. Be part of the solution. 
  6. Stop hating! This is truly the hardest one for some people. Let others live. Let them shine. Their light does not dim yours. If they tried something you wanted to try, clap for them and see how you can get involved instead of explaining to anyone who will listen that they don’t deserve, can’t do, are wack, should have done. It’s uncalled for and it says way more about you than them. Someone is reading this and saying “but, I could have done it better.” Fine! Maybe you could have, but you didn’t so either do it better or help them but please stop hating. 

We do this to ourselves. We see purpose in fierce competition that often doesn’t exist instead of thinking of ways of to collaborate. It really is easier to offer someone a smile, some grace, a little praise instead of tearing them down. 

I was flying on a airplane a few months ago between two cities that were damp and rainy. While at 30,000 feet I was able to enjoy the sun from my window seat. It was beaming. A reminder that even in the darkest moments there is light, the sun is there every single day! 

As leaders, freedom fighters, and all around good human beings be someone’s sunshine. Teach others how to be sunshine as well. We can develop cheerleaders. We can help youth understand their potential and be a catalyst for their greatness. A catalyst for generational excellence. We can play a role in helping an old hater have a new outlook and more importantly we can stop making and being haters all together. 

You are amazing, worthy, powerful, brillant. And I am so excited for what you have done and will do. You are a champion in your own right, racing against  no one. I see you and I am excited. Now look at your neighbor and tell them the same thing. 

Yours in throwing glitter not shade, 



** As with many things, hip hop is complicated. I would love to talk to people about my own take on how poignant many songs are, my next blog features a Cardi B. song, so connect with me by email or social media. Also, I think I suggest reading Joan Morgan's book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost and listen to her interview with Melissa Harris Perry here