Volume 71: I Hate Myself!

Posted on 01/14/2013

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Hate QuoteI’m back good people! I know it’s been a looooooog while since I’ve posted a blog, and I apologize for my absence. On the flip side, you know that quote about the heart and absence? Well, in this case, I hope it’s true. Anyway, I’ve been troubled lately. So troubled that it’s forced me to stop my world from swirling around me and sit down for some blog-trospection (That’s the introspection I get from writing blogs).

For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been working part-time at an inner city high school for the past couple years and, for the most part, it’s been an eye-opening experience. The students have been teaching me as much as I have been teaching them (allegedly). I’ve been learning more about urban teenage behavior than any class taught me in grad school. However, I am disturbed at part of what I have learned. Moreover, I am upset at myself for my reaction to what I have learned. I have come to the realization that, despite our commonalities, I have very little in common with these kids; and therefore, little-to-no connection. I have empathy, yes, and compassion; but that’s where it ends. What’s even more disturbing is that I’m glad that I grew up in a different environment and had different experiences. In short, I’m glad I’m not them. I don’t know how to rectify my feelings for wanting to help them change their condition, while at the same time hating them for their disrespect of what African-Americans have done to get them the freedoms they take for granted. Again, I’m happy I’m not like them. I’m happy my kids are not going to be like them. And, because I’m happy for those things, I Hate Myself!

Group Dynamics

In my studies, I’ve learned a lot about groups and group dynamics. I took special notice when we were discussing in-group vs. out-group relationships. I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but one important fact to note is that there is usually more within group variations than between group. In layman’s terms, there is a greater probability that I will be more similar to someone of another race or culture than someone in my own race (or group). I also learned that members of an “out-group” are assumed to share similar characteristics with one another. In short, two contradictory facts occur: The reality that I’m more similar to someone outside of my perceived “group”; and the social assumption that all members of my “group” are the same.

Black and Proud?

I’ve discussed cognitive dissonance in previous blogs as it is one of my favorite theories regarding behavior. Simply stated, it is (psychological) discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce the dissonance (discomfort). So, the aforementioned conflict causes dissonance in me, and other Black people like me. What differs is how we choose to reduce our discomfort. Initially, I began a quest to be a contradiction to every negative stereotype. That worked for a few people, and in a few instances; however, to reduce my dissonance, I needed to make a bigger impact. So, off I go to grad school to learn how to be a counselor. I realized my desire to be a counselor was fueled by my passion to help African-Americans overcome our past and usher in a new future. That worked at a greater rate; and yet, the dissonance still exists. I am frightened by this reality because, no matter how hard I try to reduce my dissonance, the contradiction still exists. How, then, can I reduce the discomfort with my reality? How do I reconcile the apathy displayed by the students (and their families) I serve and the life that I lived when I was their age? Most importantly, how do I impart the love and respect that I have for my people into these children?

Conclusion

I watched a program about “pride” on the History channel one random morning over the Christmas holiday break. It detailed how and why it (pride) became the deadliest of the seven deadly sins. Pride makes us feel that we are somehow better than someone else. I have always taken pride in my family’s intellectual prowess and achievements. I used that pride to be sarcastic with those I perceived to be of less intelligence. Pride made me turn my blessing from God into a weapon to degrade those less fortunate than I. Pride didn’t let me see that, my “intelligence” means nothing if I don’t use it for the benefit of others. Pride turns your eyes away from God more than any other sin because it makes you believe that you are either the creator of your blessings; or, that those blessings place you on par with God. Neither is true. And neither is the false pride created by the blessings I have received from birth. The opposite of pride is humility. It is now my quest to display this virtue more often so I can move from hating myself to loving others.

That’s just my three cents…

Sillethoughts

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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