For Black History Month, I wanted to find a way to combine history, education, and homage, in a B. Bad way. Therefore, each week I will be discussing areas of miseducation, that many Black people were taught, as a result of indoctrination. However, it won't be just me though, I want to pull you all into the conversation as well, so that we can learn and grow together.
This week, I am exploring The Miseducation of Self-Esteem. During my journey of self, was when I tapped into, and truly understood how instrumental self-esteem is, as you navigate the world. As it affects the way we perceive ourselves in terms of, self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-worth. Below, I will be discussing these three areas, and issues that keep us from having self-esteem within them.
Self-acceptance refers to our level of satisfaction within ourselves, and according to psychologists, a level of self-understanding must be involved. In Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem by bell hooks - in which I will be referencing throughout this post - she noted that the lack of encouragement around individual thought, and the push towards collectivistic thinking in the Black home, as a part of what disallows that.
Collectivistic thinking is the idea, that we all should be thinking completely as one. While there was a time, when this thinking was absolutely necessary, complete collectivistic thinking, is what takes the individualism out of us. Just imagine a society where everybody did the same exact thing, and we weren't able to exercise our unique talents.
It strips away our creative and general curiosity, because it wants us to accept, instead of question, which is another form of internalized racism. The form that unconsciously makes us want to exert control over another being. Which has showed up in Black parenting structures, and relationships.
bell mentioned that "Black folks who disobey are usually 'acting out,' reacting against the voices that are stifling their inner growth." Noting that "we must ultimately choose or reject the rules we internalize in childhood."
For us, and I say this constantly, but we must strip our lives of the goals society forces upon us, as we will never be happy meeting that standard. Instead we must determine what success, happiness and joy looks like for us, and live our lives in light of that. This, is when we will find wholeness, "success," and acceptance within ourselves.
"Our strength should not be determined by the amount of pain we can endure." As Black women, we have been the sacrificial lamb across all barriers. We are nearly forced to worry about all, and not about self. We are the heads of the household, raising children and men alike, we are the backbone of the nation, from pop culture to influence, we are shifting the Black dollar, and we are saving asses in the political stratosphere. Though, we are often even seen as being selfish, when bettering ourselves, shifts the priority of others' needs, but it is necessary.
Unfortunately some of our mother's lead us astray while following their mother's lead. By staying and sacrificing yourself for someone else's happiness. Self-Respect is defined as, seeing yourself deserving of being treated well. Being surrounded by images of Black women sacrificing themselves, unconsciously preaches to you that you are not deserving of anything more than self-sacrifice.
We are deserving of all we desire, and then some. We don't have to live in spaces where dominance has been established, or in nonreciprocal exchanges, or in spaces where bare minimal treatment looks like accommodations for a Queen. We deserve the ultimate of our hearts desires, and no the fuck we don't have to settle. However, we must do the work to understand what those things are. Consider what you actually like, what you don't like. What are needs versus wants for you. Write out what you love to do, and what you're good at. These are building blocks to determine and demand what we deserve.
The idea of self-worth ties back into ideas from last week's posts. Internalized racism for centuries has made many Black people hate their Blackness, which manifests into other areas of their lives. In terms of what dreams they chase, who they hang around, who they date, how they carry themselves, how they style themselves, among others. For some, they felt the closer they assimilated and aligned themselves to whiteness, that they would be accepted by it, or seen as equal. Unfortunately for those who feel that way, the oppressor sees us all the same.
We must reclaim the narrative that we are inferior, unhuman, and unworthy of anything. By truly loving and celebrating our Blackness, similarly to the Black is Beautiful movement I spoke about in last week's post. We must combat this internalized self-hatred with self love, as it is keeping us from actualizing our worth. We must see Blackness in general as something that is worthy, and deserving of respect. We also need to continue to create safe spaces for Black people to exist, to heal, to experience joy, and to celebrate with each other.