Monthly Archives: June 2009

Haterism

Haters. Wherever there is success there will be haters. But it seems to have gotten worse lately. And its something we need to talk about. Haters stop millions of would be success stories from happening, and hold back hundreds of thousands of already successful people from attaining even greater heights of success. Haters (probably) cost the economy billions of (theoretical) dollars in lost productivity every year. Obama’s biggest obstacle? Not the economy, not unemployment, not terrorism…you guessed it. Haters. Haterism is a disease that costs society dearly.

People often ask me, how does the Culture Wharf know about all the important socio-cultural flashpoints before they hit the mainstream pages of Newsweek? It’s easy. Watch the black people. Hip-hop for years has been dominated by the trope of “rising above the haters,” a major reason for the ostentatious displays of wealth so favored by the rap community. The reason the theme has been so extensively explored in this genre should be obvious: whenever any drug dealer and/or rapper climbed out of the poverty of his surroundings there was jealousy, anger, hate.

Perhaps urban dictionary said it best:

Haterism (n.) – Displaying hate for another individual’s success as a result of ones own shortcomings.

From user Markus Levell Price on UrbanDictionary.com

In this article I want to take a closer look at the concept of haterism, break it down to it’s psychological components and expose the cultural dynamics that give rise to haterism and give it its power.

Why is haterism so important right now? Haterism is quickly approaching the point where it becomes so obviously dysfunctional that society will have no choice but to wake up and address it. Obama’s presidency is going to put haterism front and center. In fact it already has. When Rush Limbaugh said he hopes Obama fails, classic haterism, and you’d better believe there’s more where that came from. Obama will face this kind of hate in everything he does in this presidency, and while it will come from many different sources each of them will be speaking from the same place of weakness and fear. Weakness and fear are where haterism has it’s roots.

Haterism is part of a larger family of psychological processes known as projection:

Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people. For example, if you have a strong dislike for someone, you might instead believe that he or she does not like you. Projection functions to allow the expression of the desire or impulse, but in a way that the ego cannot recognize, therefore reducing anxiety.

http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/ss/defensemech_5.htm

Haterism isn’t exactly projection, but it works pretty much the same way. In haterism the unacceptable quality is the motivation, drive, or success of another person. The hater has unconsciously rejected these qualities in himself in order to explain his situation to himself. In our black communities the hater blames society, white people, public schools, big corporations and any third party they can think of, thus projecting their own limitations outward (not that there aren’t plenty of problems facing black communities, but the distinction here is in taking responsibility). Here’s where haterism really begins: once you’ve psychologically projected these limitations outward, anyone who transcends them is violating your sense of what is possible. These success stories challenge your reality, and very few people respond to that challenge with an open mind. The knee jerk reaction to any violation of your reality is to reject it. So, back to our example of black communities, very often instead of holding up successes as examples to inspire, successful people are rejected and hated on by the community that they rose out of (see “black middle class identity,” “Tyler Perry,” “Kanye West”).

But I don’t want to make it sound like haterism is limited to African American issues. If anything because haterism has been a part of the discussion in African American culture for so long these communities have better identified it and dealt with it than majority culture has. Now who could be so blind and lacking in self-awareness as to miss this phenomenon entirely? Entitled. White. Males. See “The Republican Party”. More on that to come.

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