Defining Self-Disrespect

by E. Amado Williams

When will we revolt against the money culture that tells us we are never good enough, that we will never have enough, that we are never beautiful enough, that we can never be whole unless we buy product x? The powers of manipulation (advertisement) play our true selves against our fears and insecurities-and we let them. - Meshell NdegeOcello

Recently I spoke to a young American Black woman and while doing so, I mentioned that she was a beautiful young woman. I am not talking me licking my lips, touching myself suggestively, or reckless eyeballing-imagining her undressed. She was dressed very well. She had poise. She had natural beauty. To her, my observation evoked a frown, a look of disgust, and an immediate need for her to “put me in my place.” Seconds after she had corrected me for my comment, a common thug yelled to her from across the street: "Yo, bitch, come here and let me holla at cha for a moment." Oh, how her face lit up as she scampered over to the disrespectful individual. Despite her fine clothing, her grace, and her pleasing looks, she lacked any sense of self.

At what point in time did good and bad trade places in the American Black global community? When did it become acceptable for Black men to call Black women bitches, hoochies, hotties, and ho’s for good measure? When did Black women turn such a defaming crusade into a religion by acknowledging these ill references? When will the madness ever end? The hard question is whether Blacks want the madness to stop. Is it okay to attach a foul label to a term of endearment that makes most cringe? The older I get, the more embarrassed I am becoming at being an American Black. That scares me.

Quite a few would answer those questions by saying the media has fueled the fire of impropriety that burns bright within the Black community. Videos portray young Black men as pimps, thugs, “pushas,” and macks. These same rarely meaningful videos depict Black women as groupies, vessels of no esteem, and objects of shame. Music lyrics, the shaky foundation on which videos come to life, highlight references, innuendos, and blatant suggestions that could make some sailors seem like choirboys. But, don’t let those who perpetuate media stereotypes address this issue of self-degrading mania that is teaching our youth that a lack of respect for anyone including self is okay.

Do I blame the media entirely for the slow demise of respect that Blacks have for self and for others? No, I fault those who endorse, subscribe to, and sing and dance to the hypnotic beat of self-hatred that we see on television and hear in music. If we show love to one another at all times, we will see positive images on television and hear the love in the music. Black me would not call women things they would not want another man calling their mothers. Black women would not get angry when Black men acknowledge their strength and beauty, while smiling widely when uncouth Black men publicly embarrass them.

I feel that there will be many generations before the American Black collective truly appreciates the blood, breath, and tears our ancestors shed so that the world would treated us like men and women. Yes, there were those who suffered unnecessary whippings, hobbling, and hangings because they fought and believed that they were whole and they wanted Whites to know that they were men and women. Present day interactions within the Black fold goes against what our ancestors right down to our grandparents found for. The current state of affairs with us addressing each other without tact and referring to each other with offensive labels certainly absolves Whites from having to treat us as being less than zero. I am sure the day of forward thinking and self-love will come when I am long gone from this world. In the meantime, I will bite down hard and keep my mouth shut when I see another beautiful Black woman who needs to know that she is a blessing and not a bitch.

Defining Self-Disrespect by E. Amado Williams

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page