By Field Ruwe
We, black Africans, seldom feel the urge to jump into the river and swim across, more so if it is infected with crocodiles. Yes, when we stand by the riverside, the first thought that comes to mind is the fear of drowning or being attacked by a crocodile. This mortifying psychological faintheartedness is in the majority of Africans. We are gripped with so much fear, we are afraid to make that most crucial jump out of the nest and fly into the challenging world. It is this feeling of inadequacy that affects our upward mobility, and allows non-Africans to condition us their way. They have managed to make us see only the worst in us.
For centuries we have been victims of a camouflaged psychological warfare, covert and overt racism, that have left many Africans mentally indoctrinated. The belief that Africans have low intelligence remains in the African psyche and is passed from one generation to another. This has resulted in low-esteem, loss of scholastic motivation, and lack of great imagination. Today, there is even a much more sophisticated and massive furtive effort by non-Africans to portray Africans as failures. As a result, many Africans continue to believe that all non-black people are intellectually better than them. This has contributed to the continued deteriorating image of Africa.
I am working on a handbook that’s meant to change this perception and bring the best in Africans. It is a psychological conditioning book for Africans that attempts to remove the devastating feeling of self-contempt, self-hatred, self-doubt, self-loathing, disunity, dislike of the other African, and instills self-confidence, admiration, respect, trust, and unity. It urges Africans to rid of negative pathologies embedded within them and turn their thinking around and look at themselves as a brave and intelligent people who deserve to be part of the cognitive elite.
Beginning today, once a week, I shall use this platform to confront our Achilles’ heels—the weaknesses that have resulted in the loss of our unity, racial pride, and educational aspirations in spite of our physical and mental strengths. I offer ideas, suggestions, and recommendations that can gain us the acceptance of the world. The benefit of reading this column will be a change from feelings of hopelessness and despair to an awareness of the most urgent issues of our time. We can no longer survive as Africans hanging on to intimidation and humiliation. In order to succeed, we need to engage in critical thinking, reexamine some of our most basic beliefs and prior assumptions.
My first task this week is to prepare you for the most provocative and grueling topics ahead. In doing so, I table ten self-development techniques to help build your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Self-acceptance: Know that you will never be the color you are not. Accept who you are and display optimism and confidence. Realize that you can’t change the color of your skin or your features, but you can take personal responsibility and change how you think and feel about yourself. If you accept the way you look, your body accepts you. Always say to yourself: “I’ll not change the way I look to accommodate the people who hate me. I’ve been black all my life and will proudly live with it.” When you hate the way you are, you surrender your willpower to your tormentors. They will gladly kill you. Remember there is absolutely nothing wrong with black skin. It is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with your broad nose. It is no worse than the noses of many non-blacks. There is nothing wrong with your thick lips. In fact they are the admiration of many non-blacks. So, reject the senseless feelings of self-hate that have been forced on you.
- The Dominance Motive: Understand that the color of your skin and your appearance are tools of intimidation, oppression, and suppression, used by non-blacks to dominate you. The majority of non-blacks are driven by dominance motives because they have been conditioned from childhood. Many non-blacks have made a pledge that a black person will never be their equal or above them. Not because he is brainless, but because he possesses the two most vital qualities of dominance—power and intellect. Overcome by your physic, they have gone after your mind and reduced it to the size of a marble. Driven by their ego and dominance motive, they have managed to replace your self-love with self-hate. It is up to you. You either reclaim your self-love or allow self-hate to consume and kill you.
- Responsibility: God put you on earth for a purpose. You are responsible for that purpose. You are your own purpose. Teach yourself to shoulder the responsibilities of your life. You find yourself overburdened by self-hate because you have allowed other people to take control of your responsibilities. Develop the courage to be responsible of NOT your self-hate, but self-love. Take control of yourself and begin to love everything about you. God loves you.
- Positivity [the quality or state of being positive]. Believe in yourself. Begin to chip in your negative thoughts by filling your mind with self-affirming thoughts. Tell yourself “I’m happy with the way I am. I need not bother about other people’s thoughts and actions.” Fill your mind with black people who inspire you or those who have made it to the top. Put yourself in their shoes and emulate their positivity. They became successful against all odds, and so can you. It will take time, but it is worth it.
- Understand the psychological motive of your tormentor. Always bear in mind that your tormentor is waging a war against you; that his/her negative attitude toward you is meant to remind you that you don’t belong to his group/race. By doing so he is boosting his own self-worth. When in public study, even for a moment, the people around you. Know that not all have negative feelings about you. Those who do will display their prejudicial attitude through body language. It is their only way to maintain their self-esteem. Always remember that racism is the underlying motive behind the actions of your tormentor. He may not be a racist, but he/she truly thinks he/she is of higher social status. Don’t forget that bigoted behavior can be expressed through words, actions, body language, love or hate, knowledge or ignorance. Most of the non-black people in your presence have been told that black people are bad or dangerous. Don’t show anger or emotion when you encounter any of these attributes. Being angry or emotional gives your tormentor a sense of victory.
- Isolation: In isolation understand that the people who carry biases are shielding their failures. Take a look or a glance at anyone who is trying to bring you down. On public transport, ask yourself why they are on the same transport, going in the same direction as you; in class, is their intelligence exceptional? Look at their grades, judge their participation and contribution. At work, are they the company’s Einstein? What spectacular contribution have they made—that you can’t make? Let them not intimidate you because of the color of their skin. They could be worse than you. It is possible that they exude confidence in public and curl in misery in private. Remember, tormentors are tormented people. They typically inflict their torment on others. Bare this in mind, and in your seat, keep a smile on your face.
- Blame: Don’t blame God. Don’t blame your parents. Don’t blame your fellow blacks. It is not their fault that you despise yourself—that you think you are black, ugly, bad, mean, inferior, primitive, and intellectually deficient. Blame those non-blacks who work night and day to ensure you feel the way you do. They are the ones that have imprisoned you and turned you into an object of hate. They have succeeded in making you hate yourself. They have made you dislike anything and everything black—the color, culture, music, sports, and other talents. Understand that you have enough wisdom to realize that self-hate is not doing you any good. Begin to appreciate yourself and your own people.
- Outlook: Build your self-image by taking care of yourself. Always take a bath/shower, brush your teeth, and kill any unpleasant smell on you. Dress well – clean shirt, underwear, and pants. Remind yourself that your tormentors could be avoiding you because they, themselves, are not clean and do not want you to know.
- Hope: Always think that you will be much better as a black person someday; that the future is bright for all blacks on earth. Think about where you have come as a black to where you are now. Whereas before you were not allowed to be on the same bus with non-blacks, you are now separated only by a seat. Soon a day will come when all black people will enjoy life in all its richness.
- Love: Replacing self-hate with self-love is all about loving oneself, caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself. You must go further than that and share the same feelings with others. Love them for who they are, respect and appreciate them for their effort and talent in class, sports, etc.
Remember: The psychological impact of racism and discrimination has long lasting effects. The enormous personal stress that you experience when you are shunned, ignored, snubbed, feared, discriminated against, creates a deep wound in your soul. It gets even deeper when you pay too much attention to what non-blacks are doing to you or saying about you. When in such a situation keep your head high and smile in the face of unpleasantness.
Please Note: The reader must understand that this is not an attack on a particular people or race, but an honest attempt to make Africans understand who they are, where they came from, what their history is, where they went wrong, when and why, where they are today, and what to do about their future. An African who reads this article and shares with another African, spreads the word one African at a time. Next week I tackle the history of the color black and why religion takes a chunk of the blame. Don’t miss it.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, author, and a doctoral candidate. Learn more about him on his website www.aruwebooks.com. On it you shall access his autobiography, articles, and books. Contact him, blog, or join in the debate. ©Ruwe2012