Black self-love, not Imus apology

250px-detroitskyline.jpg 

The image still rattles around inside my head…

I was on my way to visit a particular middle school on Detroit’s East side because I wanted to take a look at an interesting program that I knew was going on there. A group of older brothers had created an organization where they essentially hired themselves out to take on the worst of the worst young males in  school for a portion of the day several days out of the week and deal with them in an up-close-and-personal atmosphere. I was intrigued with the concept, and I thought it would make a good story showing black males in a positive light as they reached out to work with their younger brethren.

As I was driving alongside what appeared to be the school’s playfield looking for the entrance where I could park my car, I noticed a lot of the youngsters out enjoying the day, which was a nice sight. I smiled, thinking back to my school days and how much I liked to rip and run during recess.

Then, all of the sudden, the kids stopped what they were doing and one of them started yelling something. Somebody pointed wildly in my general direction, which made me start looking around since I assumed they couldn’t be pointing at me. My heart was starting to race, wondering if maybe I was about to drive dead into a shooting match, but if that was the case the kids wouldn’t have all been running so quickly toward the mayhem. 

Still, I decided to pull the car over to the side of the street and look around to see what was causing all the ruckus. That’s when I saw the woman with the bat angrily stalking out of her doorway down her sidewalk in pursuit of another woman who had fallen to the ground and was scurrying backward as fast as her backpedaling legs would take her. I only briefly caught a glance at the woman’s face who carried the weapon, but it was enough to give me a deep chill on that relatively warm spring day. The raw hatred that burned in those eyes was intense enough to stop a heartbeat. For whatever reason, she wanted to kill the woman in retreat. Just looking at the way it was going down made me assume it was probably over some man, but maybe I was wrong. If that woman didn’t get up off the ground in time, however, it wouldn’t matter what the reason because she would either be dead or seriously crippled.

The kids were loving it. To them, many of whom clambered up on the fence to get a better view, this was way more fun than any of the previous games they had been playing. They weren’t seeing a tragedy unfolding, nor were they seeing a reason to find an adult and tell him or her to call the police. This was great entertainment. Not because these kids were mentally twisted, but because they had seen so much of this kind of self-hatred in their brief lives on this earth that they had already become numb to this sort of violence.

So this whole thing with Imus begs some rather extensive discussion on the subject of self-love – and self-hatred. At least that’s my take on it. And please pardon the bone-jarring transition here. Normally I shift gears a little smoother than that, but of  all the discussion that this particular event has sparked, I have yet to see anyone talk much about that angle of the story. As it relates to black people – youngsters in particular – I think it just may be the most important issue. But once again, that’s just me.

Here’s the thing; whatever else is wrong with Don Imus, my guess would be that he doesn’t suffer from self-hatred. My guess would be that Don Imus simply loves Don Imus. The man’s mirror is probably coated with slobber from all the times he’s tried to kiss himself before going to work.

The good side about that attitude is that people like that rarely suffer from a self-esteem problem. This means they have no problem believing that they deserve everything the world has to offer because, well, they believe they’re worth it. They look in the mirror and they see the most beautiful individual in the world and then they fall in love.

The bad side, naturally, is that this type personality can also tend to believe his own self-produced hype to the detriment of those around him. In other words, a guy – or gal – like this will have little problem walking all over you with combat boots to get the treats they feel they deserve. Why? Because they know they are wonderful people and they know they deserve the treats. If getting the treats means painful consequences for you then, well, too bad for you. Just so long as they get the treat.

Some folks refer to that type of behavior as a sense of “entitlement”. They believe,  therefore they achieve. Not that I’d ever want any of our children to grow up into black versions of Imus, because I’d personally rather see them tossed into a cramped cage  full of  hungry lions with raw meat stapled to their clothes, but I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with more of our kids developing a stronger sense of self-worth and entitlement.

I won’t retread the whole argument about how much rap music may or may not have contributed to the storm surrounding Imus’ comments, except to say that at some point we are going to have to crank up the volume of our criticism against the uglier aspects of this art form. I’m not saying none of us are speaking out against the rampant sickness that is infecting the lyrics, but I strongly believe that if we targeted certain leading figures in rap the same way we focused on Imus then we could bring that crap to a screeching halt the same way Imus’ career came to a screeching halt.

And once we bring that self-hating parade to a screeching halt, then maybe we can change the direction of the parade toward a direction of self-love where we start to believe in – and insist upon – the best in ourselves. Once we change the direction of the parade, maybe we won’t have misdirected young children who view a potential murder scene as hilarious entertainment, but children with their eyes open who are determined that their adult lives will never mirror so much of the ugliness and pain so many of them are forced to wake up and go to bed with each and every day and night.

Maybe once we change the direction of this parade,  we can change the direction of our condition.

And in that spirit, I’d like to draw your attention to a very important petition making the rounds that you should seriously consider signing. The petition was pointed out to me by Villager. Check it out…

As members & supporters of the Black community, we the undersigned wish to express our outrage against the numerous rap artists whose lyrics and videos degrade women, Black women in particular, as well as themselves. Their incessant use of the terms ‘nigger’, ‘bitch, and ‘ho’ degrade the Black community. We also denounce their promotion of drug dealing and the poisonous culture of violence they perpetuate.

We realize freedom of speech is a value held dearly by all in the United States of America. That same freedom of speech which allows these artists to spew their poison is the same freedom that allows us to stand up and say: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”

We do not advocate censorship. We are advocating responsibility. Know that this promotion of prison culture has affected our youth. We must put the future of the Black community first! As such,

  • We will no longer support artists and media outlets who promote stereotypically demeaning images of Black women!!
  • We will not purchase music that categorically insults us!!
  • We will boycott BET, MTV, VH-1, mainstream radio and any other media outlet that supports and promotes artists who malign, debase, and otherwise disrespect Black people!!
  • We are speaking out against a culture that has been hijacked and turned into a vehicle of harm and degradation of an entire people!!

In the great tradition of our ancestors who began the Montgomery bus boycott, we will not financially patronize or support any entity that discriminates against us or disrespects our people!!

Sincerely,
The Undersigned

 Sign the petition here…

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~ by Keith A. Owens on April 15, 2007.

10 Responses to “Black self-love, not Imus apology”

  1. […] Read more here… […]

  2. We all need more self-love thats for sure, and not just African Americans either.

  3. BronzeTrinity,

    You’ve got that right for sure…

  4. K –> we need more Black self-love for sure! Thank you for sharing your story with us. As always you’ve nailed it on the head!

    peace, Villager

  5. I say you must enter the room to see and hear what is really going on. Sometimes its more face to face is more painfully than watching it on television. Hope you are ability to share your petitions with the brothers and the school. Keep the faith. Check out awip-awip.blogspot.com and encourage a sister on spreading the message of self-love.

  6. Hey Credo!

    Absolutely face-to-face is much more harsh than watching it via the safety of the tube. No doubt about it. And I will definitely check out that blogsite. Thanks much, my friend, and I’ll always keep the faith.

  7. Thnaks Villager!

  8. Hi D,
    We do need more healthy self-love, for sure. While we must insist that those rap artists who degrade Black women and Black people as a whole with their nasty language make a change, we can’t wait for the rappers to institute change within themselves. We must educate our children when they are born that they are great people, that they’re brilliant. My husband and I do that with our daughter daily, instilling a sense of love for who she is as a human being, a beautiful Black girl, a wonderful up-and-coming lady who will do great things. And if, by chance, the rap industry doesn’t change, my husband and I WILL sit with our daughter and teach her ourselves the damage these artists do each time their music is played. We will show her ourselves how to think about this problem. Indeed, I really do believe that if we train our own children in the way they should go, when they get older, they won’t depart from it. They won’t think uncritically about what comes before them. But truly, it begins at home. And hopefully, our generation won’t be the only generation screaming for change. Quite possibly, if our children expect more because of what we’ve instilled in them, they’ll expect more from the artists they support as well.

  9. Hi D,

    I forgot to change the website link when I left my comment above. The link goes to my husband’s blog, not mine. I’m sorry! But I forgot to say in the above comment that this is a great post!

  10. Thanks KWiz! Much appreciation for what you said about the post, and I think your comments are really dead-on. I strongly agree that kids do tend to absorb te teachings of committed parents, even if they go through periods of strong rebellion – as I did. But eventually, those lessons do come back to instruct you, and to place you on the right path. It’s been said so many times, but parental involvemnt does make such a difference.

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