>When It’s Hard To Love Yourself.

>Non-blacks sometimes wonder why black folks are so sensitive and mixed up, often concluding that we are needlessly alarmist and reactive when the worst of our days are supposedly long behind us. This video sheds a little insight on our “sensitivity,” showing how our fucked-uppedness is so ingrained, it’s now an inside job where we ourselves help to keep perpetuating it (we can thank Willie Lynch for giving us the gift that keeps on giving). No offense, non-blacks, but blacks will directly understand what I mean when they watch this.

Non-blacks, look on and try to at least remotely comprehend how deep the scarring of slavery and racism cuts within our culture…it is very real for us. An entire nation was socialized to treat us a certain way for at least four hundred years, and they taught us to treat ourselves that way, too. Keep in mind we’ve only been truly free since the late 1960’s, and some people, including many of our own, have not developed the skills to counter those four hundred plus years of divisive, demeaning socialization and leap the mental hurdles that can hold them back as a result. Vestiges of this hurtful way of thinking can sometimes occur in the most minute ways (e.g., the dreaded “good hair” comments). It requires a full retraining of the mind, and can be very difficult when members of your own family a generation or two above still retain strong traces of this poisonous self-loathing.

This film short was done by a teenager, which makes it all the more remarkable.*

[click “play” (the arrow button) to watch]

*I had a flashback and grabbed my ears to keep them from being burned when I saw that girl getting the straightening comb at the end. We are truly a bittersweetly triumphant people. We are gonna KICK ASS on Survivor: Race Riot…if there’s no Omorosa-type who causes our tribe to implode.

12 thoughts on “>When It’s Hard To Love Yourself.

  1. >I was heartbroken to see that with all the effort to create positive images over the years that the prevailing theme amongst our children is that they still don't measure up or worse, they think they are "bad" because of the color of their skin. That's sad. We have a lot of work to do in the village. A lot of work.


  2. >I saw this post this morning but knew I didn’t have time to really, really watch so I left the house and am just looking at it. I am glad I did because it would have totally blown my day. First, thanks for putting this up, Lo. I think it is a part of our community that is often made light of or overlooked.This reminds me of two incidents with my children. We used to have a Hispanic housekeeper named Veronica. I think she was from El Salvador. Well, one day, my daughter came in crying and said, “Veronica said me and Mark (my oldest son) are black and Kris (my youngest) and mommy are white.” Their mother is of a lighter complexion with rather longish naturally straight hair. Kris shares her complexion. I had to explain to them that for Veronica black and white was merely a color and not a racial identity (try explaining this to a 3 year old).Fast forward two years and Danielle and I were in a toy store. I admit I spoil her, but the outing was to purchase a toy because she did really well on a school project or something. So we walk up and down the aisle and she picks up basically a Black Barbie type doll with all these tits, hips and hair. I was a little reluctant to purchase this doll because I could tell even at age 5 or 6 that my daughter was going to be a “hot” one. So I suggested she select a set of twin infants. There were two sets — one white, one Black — and she picked up the white set. I asked her why she didn’t take the ones that most resembled her and she said, “I don’t like them.” I responded the dolls were beautiful just like her and she should be happy to have little playmates that looked like her. When I protested further, she said, “my mommy is white.” I just about lost it but took a deep breath and said, “no, dear, your mommy is not white. She is light with long hair, that does not make her white.” My daughter gets her stubbornness from me so she dug in her heels and wouldn’t relent. Needless to say, I bought tits, hips and hair that day.What is so sad is the engrained self-hatred that guides our daily decision. I often hear my daughter saying someone is cute and when she lists what makes him cute, the first comment is that he is light skinned. Same thing with my son (the white one). He keeps jokingly making remarks about house versus field slaves and while he laughs, I know that there is a part of him that makes him feel superior to his sister and brother and even me because he is lighter and is often mistaken for Puerto Rican. I remind him that his color and hair along with the price of admission will gain him entry.It happens in employment decisions when two equally qualified candidates apply. Typically the job will go to the more attractive one and most times that means the “lighter” one.The crime statistics in Black neighborhoods only speaks to this more. If you don’t love yourself because you think you are inferior then you can’t love your brother or sister who is equally as inferior so their lives are worthless and you don’t think twice about robbing them, raping them, or killing them. Their lives — as well as your own — have no value.It’s sad commentary but true. We, as a people, have so very far to go.Lo, and I’ll close now. I don’t know if you remember Whoopie Goldberg’s talk show. Well, James Earl Jones was on one night and he talked about the whole notion of Black culture. He said basically that we (Black folk) could not have a culture because we don’t have our own language. Hearing the young lady in the film speaking of not having (or knowing) a culture reminded me of that.Wishing all of you a peaceful journey — it’s hard out here for a Black person..


  3. >You're welcome, Janet. When I first saw this, I thought, how can I not put this up.Juan, the incidents you just recounted regarding your daughter and your son practically took my breath away. The sad part is I see this all the time, day in, day out, in my friends, in family, in business environments, and there are traces of it in me that I do everything in my will to excise (and exorcise). We are how we are socialized until we willingly make a change, and even though most of us know better, sometimes logic takes a back seat to learned behavior and these self-loathing acts continue to flourish.


  4. >All I know is that every time I journeyed to Ethiopia to see my wife's relatives, we always brought along a ton of hair straightening products (any kind of relaxer, conditioner, geez, all I know is that VO5 had banner years during that period in my life) for all 6 of Hirut's sisters. Hirut was straightening her hair long before she came to the states. But I believe it was the impact of western television (thank you, MTV) that had girls all over Africa changing their hair and struggling to stay thin.I think much of this rot about being unhappy with ourselves is actually embedded within us (yes, even men) via social trends. I think the same applies to whites who so desperately want to darken their skin (just about everyone I know), change their eye color, get "abs"…etc. We all want to make ourselves more attractive according to whatever norm modern sexiness actually is supposed to be. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, watch any 70's porno. It's hard to fathom that the people in those movies were, at any point in human history, considered "sexy".Down in Little Ethiopia, on Fairfax, I recently ran into a girlfriend from my past (and her 8 foot tall Rasta boyfriend) and marveled at her giant afro. It was smokin' on her. I couldn't believe how incredible she looked. Then her boyfriend used one hand to pick me up by the top of my head and threw me behind the bar. Actually, I bought them dinner.This test with the dolls is incredibly intriguing. When the interviewer asks the girl which doll is "bad", she chooses the black doll. This isn't that hard to explain when you watch any news channel, any night of the week. Bad news=black. Good news=white. Then on to the water skiing squirrel (repeat nightly). I think if that test was replicated in Ethiopia, you'd get the opposite choices from children.But this is just the rant of a white jackass who doesn't know, nor has ever known, what the hell he's talking about.All I know is that after all the progress I thought we were making, we have an administration that let an entire city of black folk sink under water. I was wondering today, during the President's sickening visit to NO, why nobody brought up the fact that he rushed Naval vessels to Lebanon to get out all the rich, white students. Took them 24-48 hours. All the way across the PLANET. Took them four days to even bother getting down to NO.Screw this. I'm moving to Ethiopia.


  5. >great post lo…just think back to when you were a kid, didn't you feel the same? at least to a degree, with the barbie dolls or "trying to be like THOSE people on t.v.".life imiates art……art imitates lifelife imitates…


  6. >Actually, Lance, I never once wanted to look like a Barbie doll and I chose more black dolls than anything else. While I grew up with friends from all walks whom I was able to appreciate from a cultural standpoint, I was quite Afrocentric as a child (have you ever really paid attention to my AOL e-mail address? that's not accidental). I think that's why I'm particularly sensitive and pained by a video like this one. I was born during the Civil Rights era and my parents came from Mississippi, which we used to visit every summer on vacation. When we would go there, I would see so many examples of how people there still weren't quite ready to let go of segregationism and an air of racial entitlement, which only made me more indignant about my people and what we've come through. I grew up with James Brown in the background, telling me "I'm black and I'm proud," songs like "Young, Gifted, and Black," and Donny Hathaway singing that "Someday We'll All Be Free."I've never once wanted to be anything but black. I so very love the skin I'm in, it almost borders on cultural narcissism. Again, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate other cultures. It just means I totally appreciate my own.Racism was never lost on me, so I'm of a mind that black children have nothing to be ashamed of—they should be taught to be proud of their heritage and possibilities, not be demeaned because they don't fit into a Eurocentric ideal. It's hard to fight against that when the demeaning comes both subtly and blatantly from family members and friends, but if we are more vigilant about what we say to our own, perhaps we can someday reverse the tide on this awful self-loathing, one step at a time.


  7. >I was just recalling a time when a couple that I'm friends took this to an extreme. The couple, incredibly wealthy, white South Africans, their daughter, American. Well, in her teen years, the daughter swelled to "chubby", not necessarily obesity. She was the embodiment of self-loathing, and believe me when I say, her parents did nothing but slam her constantly on her weight. Her parents are both slim, trim, beautiful people in the fashion industry and I think it blew their minds to have this chunky kid out in public. I worked with these people a lot and was around the kid a lot and could tell this was of major concern to everyone involved. Needless to say, when she turned 16, the parents had her put under the knife for lipo, skin removal, whatever else they could take off of her. I make it a point to try and never pity the extremely wealth in this country but I sure felt sorry for that kid. It majorly changed her appearance but I don't know if the emotional scars that lie underneath will ever be erased.


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