To Mr. Douglas,
I read your column Why I hate being a Black man at the Guardian.com, and I can’t help but feel bad for you. Hate is such a strong emotion, and to hate oneself has got to be the worst possible of all forms of hate. I understand and have experienced situations similar to what you write about, but I fail to understand how you allow the actions of others to determine your self-worth.
I am a Black American male who is 6ft tall and about 250 pounds. I get the same type of responses such as purse clutching and such, so I know what it feels like. I have been spit on, cursed at, and even had my life threatened because of the color of my skin. Instead of seeing such things as a negative to me, I see these incidents as the ignorance of others who are unable to see beyond the pigmentation of my skin. I learned over time how to use such instances to fuel my drive to succeed and prove them and all other naysayers wrong about who they thought I was or what I represented.
Anybody who judges a person solely by their appearance will seldom give themselves the chance to see who that person truly is on the inside. You have to realize that you are here on this Earth and the only person you need to make happy is yourself. If you’re afraid and uncomfortable with who you are on the inside, how do you expect others to be unafraid and comfortable around you anywhere? You have to let go of the notion that other people determine your worth and realize that you control that value and you set the standard for the way others see you.
Don’t measure yourself against the negative stereotypes as that will only make you view yourself in a negative light. Look to the positive examples of Black men with broad shoulders. Black men have been great inventors, great instructors, great pilots, and Black men have even been into space numerous times. If you don’t like rap and prefer rock, then rock on with the knowledge that many early rock acts took their cues from Black musicians. Many Blacks don’t like rap either, so don’t think you HAVE to like rap just to be Black. Don’t allow society and media to feed your mind that the only Black men are thugs and criminals. There’s an entirely different group of us sitting out there beyond the horizon doing our daily tasks and not seeking the approval of others just to say we are worth something.
Now, I know it’s highly unlikely that you will read this, but maybe this will help anybody else who’s sitting in the same place regardless of their race. Take the time to learn to love yourself. Don’t allow others to determine who you are as only you can determine that. Never even attempt to measure your worth using negative markers as you’ll only end up with a negative view of yourself. Finally, hold your head up high with the knowledge that you are not alone in seeing those responses from other people around you. Many of us experience it on a regular basis, but nobody can take anything away from you that you do not willingly give them. Don’t give them your pride, and you will have no reason to hate yourself.
- Why I hate being a black man | Orville Lloyd Douglad (theguardian.com)
- A searingly honest account of black self-hatred (bloggingtheology.wordpress.com)