The Cult of Success
This YouTuber named Acolytes of Horror made a video called "The Lies Of The Lighthouse." For those who haven't seen it, it's about two men named Wake and Howard. Wake owns a private island where he operates a lighthouse, and he hired Howard as his subordinate. Throughout the movie, Wake constantly torments Howard, and eventually, both are driven to madness. The video discusses how the ultimate theme of the movie is capitalism forces people, particularly poor men, to obsess over work in order to obtain the "American Dream." The tragedy of The Lighthouse is that there was no real reason for Wake to torment Howard. While I don't believe that a boss can be friends with their employees since friendships require equality, Wake could've been a respectable mentor or father figure to Howard since he was about 40 years his senior. They had a lot in common regarding understanding the pain of doing meaningless work just to scrape by. Since Wake already achieved Howard's dream of elevating himself out of poverty and being an independent business owner, he could've taken Howard under his wing. Both men were also incredibly lonely, so their relationship could've been exactly what each other needed to support themselves. However, rather than trying to relate to Howard by making him more comfortable or sharing the labor, Wake chose to make life on the island as unbearable as possible. Wake would rather make Howard miserable than offer support. After all, why does Howard deserve help? Why does Howard deserve to be happy? Wake had to suffer for much longer than him to earn his place. Why can't Howard just suffer in silence until he "makes it" like Wake did?
There's this family friend of mine who's a high-ranking executive. One time she point-blank told me that black women don't support each other. Considering both of us are black women, it shocked me how bluntly she said that. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized what she was actually trying to say. People who succeed within the system would rather blame those who are lesser rather than question the system or elevate them; even if those people are of the same race, gender, or sexuality. (For the sake of simplicity, I'm using "minorities" as an umbrella term for non-white, queer, and disabled people) Wealthy minorities tend to come under harsher security than their non-minority (white/straight/cis/ablebodied/male) counterparts because they're seen as sellouts and traitors. Successful minorities respond by not defending the system, but hold genuine animosity towards their underprivileged counterparts. They advocate for meritocracy and capitalism while holding the belief that people simply choose to be poor. As a result, they buy into the same beliefs as conservative republicans by hating universal health care, free education, public transportation, homeless shelters, and food stamps. Also they say things like, "If I can make it, then so can you." "There is no excuse!" "I've had to work my fingers to the bone every day to get where I am, so why can't you do the same?" "I suffered way more than you could ever, and I still managed to be a success, so don't you dare compare me to you!" "I ain't no charity case!" "The homeless are nothing but a bunch of lazy bums." "How dare the government take away my hard-earned money so some lazy broke bitch can eat steak with food stamps, get her nails done, and have more babies." My family friend, who grew up poor, has told me multiple times that if Republicans weren't so racist and sexist, she'd vote for them. Wealthy minorities are always held as a "model minority." This is why a lot of wealthy non-minorities befriend these people. They make them feel less guilty for hating poor minorities, and confirm their biases and beliefs. Since non-minorities run the world and hold the most wealth, successful minorities are happy to associate with them. This is how Ellen Degeneres can befriend George W. Bush, and Steve Harvy can support Donald Trump. When privileged people see people who look like them suffer in poverty, they feel a combination of contentment and fear. Contempt for those who "refuse" to pull themselves by their bootstraps and have the audacity to ask for help, and fear of their past. So they step and spit on the poor to help them "forget where they came from." They also don't want to believe that there's a lot of luck when it comes to success. If you were born without any crippling bodily deformities, a healthy brain, and or a conventionally attractive face, you're lucky. If you were able to study hard in school and not have to worry about your family's finances or be forced to work to pay bills, you're lucky. If you had at least one loving, positive parental figure who encouraged you to do your best, you're lucky. If you weren't abused or kicked out as a teenager, you're lucky. If you found school easy, you're lucky. If your parents had enough money to afford a tutor, you're lucky. If you were born into a family without debt, you're lucky. I can go on, but you get the point. I'm not saying that successful people don't work hard. I am saying that at the end of the day, none of us can "make it" alone.