Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Sojourner's Path: An Extended Reader's Money Quote From Beverly

The Reader's Money Quote is a statement that is of such insight and importance that it merits frequent and loud repetition. This Reader's Money Quote is from Beverly, blog host of My Crazy Cool Life. http://mycrazycoollife.blogspot.com/. I strongly urge everyone to check out her blog. You might learn something that could enrich your life!

While discussing the dynamics of our current situation, Beverly brilliantly laid out a technique that is essential in successfully walking the Sojourner's Path. It also happens to be one of the 48 Laws of Power described in the same-titled book by Robert Greene:

WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS; NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT

Beverly said the following [my comments are in blue]:

"I've been really thinking about this subject of African American Women loving themselves and there a few things I think each of us must be aware of as we move forward.

1. Many non-AA people are emotionally invested in our self-hatred. There are people out there (and I have met them) who receive huge self-esteem boosts at the thought of African American women (and men) feeling inferior to them. In other words, our self-hatred pays dividends in self-esteem for others. [(emphasis added by Khadija) Oh yes, and these people are highly invested in our self-hatred.]

2. African American women are (imho) almost ALWAYS seen as having low self-esteem even if it's not true for that particular individual. [Because this is the public image that many of us have foolishly presented to the world. In real life and on television. Don't get me started on the damage that has been done to us all by Black female fools on "reality" tv shows.]

I remember years ago while living in Los Angeles, a black male accused me of being jealous of white women's straight hair. Despite the fact that I wore natural hair and have NEVER hated my hair this man was convinced and emotionally invested in the thought of me being jealous of white women's hair. (smh) In other words, their emotional investment in our (real or imaginary) feelings of inferiority defy reality. Even if you value yourself, be prepared for those who will accuse you or secretly believe/hope that you feel inferior to them or some other group of people they hold in high esteem.

3. Not that any of us have anything to prove to anyone; but it is your actions that show how much you value yourself, not your words. [(emphasis added) This is the key mistake that African-Americans made during the 1960s. We talked that "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud!" talk; but our collective actions never matched these bold words. At this point, non-AAs have learned to totally ignore our bluffing.]

I remember once again while living in Los Angeles, that a white women became so enraged at the fact that I wore my hair natural that she said something to me about my hair. I don't remember her exact words. But I do remember my response, which was: "I am going to continue to wear my hair like this and you are powerless to do anything about it." And I did continue to wear my hair exactly as I wanted. You see, this woman wasn't so angry about my hair being natural, she was angry about my hair being natural and me LOVING IT. Those are two hair examples (cuz folks got issues with my hair for sho' LOL); but it can apply to anything. Folks will grab onto anything and try to bring you down to size for THEIR benefit.

[Over the years, I've gotten a similar thing from a particular type of White racist about my Muslim name. They like to ask if my last name is my maiden name. The more timid racists ask my coworkers (instead of me) about this. As one of Min. Farrakhan's assistant ministers put it: "Whenever you give the former slavemaster a name that doesn't belong to him, then he wants to know how you got that name."]

4. Finally, once people realize that you as an individual African American woman has a healthy sense of self-respect and high self-esteem, with the accomplishments/actions etc to match, watch out! You will get one of two reactions...1) they will respect you and say you're the special black person (smh) or 2) they will secretly hate you and continue to harbor the belief that you feel/are inferior to them. Almost everybody believes (and yes I am going to generalize and we're talking about the U.S.A) that African Americans (especially African American women) are at the bottom of society.

Their logic often says: If African Americans are not inferior to them and their group then that must mean that they (the non-AA group) are at the bottom of society. I don't want anyone here to believe that people "out there" are going to "automatically" give us respect because we respect ourselves. This is a process. [Yes, we're counteracting centuries of negative training that these people have received from self-hating African-Americans.]

African Americans have a bad reputation for self-hatred so even if you are self-respecting you WILL run into folks who are going to test you. They are use to running all over black people and they are use to black people bowing down to them. They will expect the same from you. Be prepared. You must train people to treat you with respect. Punish them when they disrespect you and reward them when they behave in a way that's acceptable to you. [Punishing offenders will definitely speed up the overall learning curve for these other people!] That's the way you train them.

Eventually, as more of us grow and our reputation for self-hate vanishes (hopefully) this will change. But for right now, we will be treated differently than groups who are respected and must be prepared to challenge these fools."

Beverly, thank you for providing this Reader's Money Quote! You're helping to train generations of Sojourners! I can't thank you enough. Baraka Allahu feek! ["May God bless you!]

From the book The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene:

"Image: The See-Saw. Up and down and up and down go the arguers, getting nowhere fast. Get off the seesaw and show them your meaning without kicking or pushing. Leave them at the top and let gravity bring them . . . to the ground." pg. 74. The original quote said "gently" to the ground, but I want these individuals who feed off of our lack of self-respect to come crashing down! LOL!

12 comments:

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Thanks for this! I'm just going to sit back quietly and let this marinate for a little while. I also connected the dots so to speak about our work at being flawless and how having the proper self-esteem (and now navigation tactics) are all tied together.

Khadija said...

Faith,

Yes, I'm soooo thankful for the wise counsel of readers such as Beverly and yourself. Isn't Beverly THE BOMB!

All of the conversations at the BW's empowerment blogs are starting to come together. It's all connected. This is our time to make sustainable advances that lead to ENDURING victories!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Southland Diva said...

I read somewhere "when you shine your light, you give others permission to shine their light too" (if this is a really famous quote, don't laugh because I don't remember the source). :-)

Sometimes people can feel intimidated or even threatened when they come across an AA woman who not only says she loves herself, but also conducts herself in a manner consistent with loving herself. Often, people don't like it when you don't fit neatly into the box society has constructed for you. They want you to stay where you are (beneath them in their minds) so they can stay where they are (above you and therefore better than you).

Rather than investing in self-knowledge, self-love and self-respect; they prefer to go the lazy route and find someone to whom they feel superior. When you don't play along, you threaten their sense of self. Oh well!!!!

Don't let their problems stop you from shining. Change your thoughts and you change the world.

Peace

Beverly said...

Thank you Khadija! Your blog is a true INSPIRATION to me. I learn so much here. I so appreciate your generosity. Thank you.

Khadija said...

SouthlandDiva,

You said, "Often, people don't like it when you don't fit neatly into the box society has constructed for you. They want you to stay where you are (beneath them in their minds) so they can stay where they are (above you and therefore better than you)."

RESPONSE: Yep. And the "box" that they have assigned for us is more akin to a coffin than anything else.
______________________

Beverly,

You're welcome, and THANK YOU for your contributions to these conversations! With your input, you (yes, YOU---LOL!) and others have played a significant part in advancing this blog's goals. I can't thank you enough.

Let me explain some things that I haven't directly said before:

In a comment to her recent, excellent post, PioneerVallyWoman has articulated something that has been on my mind for a while. [Her blog Episcopalienne is listed on my blogroll.] I'm in the age group (40s) that should be functioning as "community elders" for younger AA women.

For the most part, those AA women in my age cohort have abdicated that responsibility and are still waiting for somebody else to step in and offer guidance to the increasingly confused masses of AA women. I say "increasingly confused" because all most younger AA women know from their own experiences is the Hip Hop Crack House fake culture.

By contrast, most AA women my age and older remember Big Mama's House. We remember a healthier AA culture before the rise of the Hip-Hop Crack House fake culture. However, instead of offering whatever guidance we can, we're mostly complaining about the mistakes made by our parents' generation of leaders, and/or complaining about the confused, younger masses.

This blog is part of my effort to discharge my portion of the earlier-mentioned responsibility to try to offer whatever guidance we can.

I feel that those of us who take up (in part, or in whole) the activist/"community elder" mantle have to adapt our methods to the 21st century, and not simply duplicate what we've seen before.

What all of this means in the context of this blog is that:

(1) I have a set of goals that I want to accomplish with these discussions. I also have a deadline for accomplishing these goals. I'm about halfway through my deadline for this blog, which is 18-24 months. After that deadline passes, the blog is over and done with.

(2) I have a deadline because, unlike our earlier leadership models, I'm NOT trying to do this for life, or even for long-term---I have specific goals that I want accomplished within a certain amount of time. I feel that this is more professional than the open-ended approach of "I'll just work on it and see what happens, and maybe it'll get done 20 years from now."I believe that it's time for activists to raise and professionalize the level of their practice. Projects that people take seriously (because there's money involved) are NOT open-ended. There's a set deadline for performance. One way or the other.

(3) Unlike earlier models of activists, I'm also NOT trying to develop a "following" for myself. Not that I fit into this category, but I don't like the charismatic, personality-driven style of leadership/"eldership" that has our activists positioned as "leaders for life." This is unprofessional and ineffective.

It's ineffective because it encourages people to become dependent upon the activist/leader/elder to do all their mass strategic thinking for them. It also encourages stagnant thinking when we have the same, small set of people ensconced in these roles for life. If I remember correctly, the Israeli military has a policy of "up and out" for its generals after they've served a certain number of years in that rank.

Now, I am NOT claiming to be a "leader"/general or anybody else functioning at that high level of importance. I'm just one person doing what I can to do my part. I'm only using these examples to explain the reasoning behind my decision to have a deadline with this blog.

I hope that others in this discussion community will (in their own UNIQUE ways---whether it's through their own blogs or other methods) move these ideas forward among our fellow AA women after I end this blog.

Beverly, I notice that you've supplied quite a few Reader's Money Quotes. [Hint, hint. *Smile*]
Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Beverly,

I forgot to mention the other things that I've been thinking about as pertains to this sort of activism:

Perhaps, it would be good if we were organized into some sort of institutional structure (such as a foundation, perhaps). This way things wouldn't be so dependent upon solo individuals to continue preserving and disseminating the life-enhancing ideas for AA women that we've been discussing.

This is something that I've been thinking about lately. Mostly in the context of figuring out in what format I want the essays and discussions from the blog preserved and disseminated.

I've considered having the blog material set up as a free, downloadable ebook available online. I've thought about "print on demand" self-publishing through Amazon.com (their POD division has another name, but it's ultimately through Amazon.com). I've considered digital publishing through Amazon's Kindle. I haven't yet decided how I'm going to approach preserving and disseminating the blog material.

Nevertheless, perhaps the foundation idea is something those of us who are interested can discuss off-blog via email. I haven't researched the idea yet (I've got a LOT of things on my plate right now), but it's one of several things that I've been contemplating.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Beverly,

One last thought: I DO know that you're WAY younger than me! LOL!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

thediva said...

If you are considering your posts as a ebook option, I wasn't sure if you are already aware of the iphone option. Amazon.com has downloadable for Kindle and iPhone, however, I don't think Kindle is available outside the US plus it can be rather expensive. Plus, there are several publishing companies getting in on the ground floor of the iphone options because you can bypass amazon and go directly through the apps store( which downloads ipod and itouch). Plus, I am thinking you could set your own prices, even as little as $1 which is still something for your work or you can do it free.

Some formats work better than others and there are a few changes you will have to make for readability. The more formats you have the more people you can reach. Personally, I think it would be a great opportunity to start some type of alternative magazine for Black Women because you don't need the start up costs.

Anyway, I hope you have a good rest and best to you.

blackotome said...

I've published stuff on Lulu.com it's pretty easy. They'll take MS word files, and you can set it for free downloads as well. Also if you download openoffice.org (it's free) you can save/export into a whole bunch of different file formats like pdf and pocketword
cheers tbo

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Khadija:

In a comment to her recent, excellent post, PioneerVallyWoman has articulated something that has been on my mind for a while. [Her blog Episcopalienne is listed on my blogroll.] I'm in the age group (40s) that should be functioning as "community elders" for younger AA women.

For the most part, those AA women in my age cohort have abdicated that responsibility and are still waiting for somebody else to step in and offer guidance to the increasingly confused masses of AA women. I say "increasingly confused" because all most younger AA women know from their own experiences is the Hip Hop Crack House fake culture.

By contrast, most AA women my age and older remember Big Mama's House. We remember a healthier AA culture before the rise of the Hip-Hop Crack House fake culture. However, instead of offering whatever guidance we can, we're mostly complaining about the mistakes made by our parents' generation of leaders, and/or complaining about the confused, younger masses.

My reply:

Thanks for the shout-out, Khadija!

Perhaps because I have spent a lot of time working with young women in college and graduate school, I have been functioning as an "elder," in that sense.

I first began teaching as an teaching assistant in 1997. The blogging I do is an extension of the work I have done in the classroom.

Regarding the failure of our age group to be "elders." Our immediate predecessors were the civil rights generation, the "lions". We looked to them for answers, like children do with their parents.

But it is time to cut the apron strings, find our own voices (grounded in our own experiences) and get to work!

Our predecessors did the same--they often had to fight their own elders who were not as willing to be militant.

sistrunkqueen said...

Yes I agree with Pioneervalley woman. Ironically, one of my peers from undergrad was at my job(tech college) for a evening class. She was the organizer(only) for our class 15 year reunion. I did not attend this year. She told me about thirty alumni represented in class of 94. But what i remember the most is her comment about a '79 alum who said her class only has 120 left from the original 250. She wanted my peer to remember that the younger alumni will have to carry the torch really soon. The old guard ,lions are dying off. We lost three classmates this year due to strokes(all in their thirties). Our conversation ended with trying to stay in touch and support our alma mater (Hampton). The old guard/school alumni are burning out and the new school need to step up. I don't want my school to dissolve like Morris Brown did here in Atlanta.

Khadija said...

TheDiva,

Thanks for the info. What I'll probably do is have the essays available in multiple formats by leaving the blog up AND doing other stuff.
___________________

BlackOtome,

Thanks for the info.
____________________

PioneerValleyWoman,

As you said, "it is time to cut the apron strings, find our own voices (grounded in our own experiences) and get to work!"That's right! It's long overdue for most of us.
______________________

Sistrunkqueen,

You said, "We lost three classmates this year due to strokes(all in their thirties)." Lord have mercy. AA women are literally dropping like flies because of the TERRIBLE status quo that we've collectively allowed to become entrenched over the past 25 or so years.Peace, blessings and solidarity.