I was a participant in a workshop and I asked for a definition of self-esteem and being rich. Every person attempted to define rich as materialism, owning houses, land and other things. Not one person saw richness as family, friends and health.
Only a few were able to define self-esteem. One described it as self-pride, another understanding who you are and one even said it is knowing your self-worth and never allowing anyone to define who you are or what potential you possess.
The ongoing tragedy is that Blacks for too long have been indoctrinated with the lies that we have limitations and even if we become professionals we are never as good as White professionals. Do you remember when Blacks would say if you need a lawyer make sure he is Jewish? Also make sure you use a White doctor because he graduated from a prominent White college. We laughed at Buckwheat, cheered Tarzan, and saw Stepin Fetchit and Amos ’n Andy as hilarious instead of a demeaning portrayal of Black people.
Then there was a time period when Blacks shook off the old stereotypes and established thriving business communities, baseball leagues, successful professionals and productive churches and civil rights organizations, but somehow we have allowed ourselves to get side-tracked.
In the ’60s, we marched, picketed, prayed, boycotted, set fires, chanted “ain’t going to take it no more” and these actions resulted in Black men and women receiving job opportunities they never thought they would be afforded. The marchers were generally the everyday, uneducated people and the job recipients were those with degrees. They started the exodus of their present communities and moved up and out to the suburbs, and it was their right. Successful professionals no longer lived next door or down the street so the youths failed to know or see them, and eventually too many of them began to assimilate and lost track of how they got in a position to move out and up.
I have heard untold numbers of Blacks who are doing all right refer to Blacks living in the inner city as those people. How fast some of us forget.
Now begins the DEMISE of SELF-ESTEEM. The Black professionals no longer live in our neighborhoods; the mills have closed; and a deterioration of our neighborhoods has accelerated. Mothers, fathers and grandparents become younger and younger, single-parent homes begin to increase, positive examples—particularly Black men—become less visible, and too frequently non-existing. Youths are told regularly what they cannot hope to achieve, and constantly told “they” will not allow you. The tragedy is when a person is told that day in and day out they begin to not only believe it—they begin to live it. With no sense of self-esteem you begin to hate yourself, you despise the person you see in the mirror and the Black-on-Black killings are a blatant example of self-hate.
Organization after organization solicits money for every program under the sun, but when does someone solicit exclusively for a SELF-ESTEEM program. Drug addicts and alcoholics possess low self-esteem; that is why they need something synthetic to make them feel good.
Kingsley Association youths need your financial help.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)