Let’s look at how deep this self-hatred goes. Everyday, we are bombarded with images that perpetually show black folks in a negative light, explicitly and implicitly. When black is shown positively, it is clear that it is the exception, not the rule. Our politics are dripping with racial undertones. Think about it, when I say foodstamps and welfare, what face comes to mind? Be honest with yourself. For 9 out of 10 of you, it’s a black face (for that 1, you know lying is wrong, right?). This political-racial branding is so strong, that we KNOW that there are far more white folks on welfare than blacks and yet we still associate welfare with black and lazy.
From the moment Africans arrived on the American shores, there was a deliberate effort by some to demean, humiliate, disregard, manipulate and mistreat people of African ancestry by various extralegal methods. This exercise has taken place for centuries. It should come as no surprise that such self-hatred is deeply embedded within more than a few of our brethren of all ages.
We can see it in the tests that are given to young Black children and pictures are shown to them where far too many see White dolls as prettier. We see self–hatred manifest itself when several Black pro football players consider a perverse, crude, cruel, loudmouth, misfit, White linebacker with a history of disciplinary problems more representative of Blackness than a young, sophisticated, cultured, well-educated, reserved Black man. We see it on YouTube, videos, Twitter, Black-oriented websites and other venues where a number of Black people have something negative to say about Black men, Black women, Black culture or Black people in general.
This is further compounded when we see ourselves frequently depicted as drug dealers, prostitutes, lazy, less intelligent, dishonest, shiftless and in other retrograde images. Such a level of ongoing negativity can certainly take its toll. For much of our history, Black Americans have often been targeted as scapegoats for much that is deficient, dysfunctional, immoral, amoral or just plain wrong with the world. The fact that Douglas is Canadian gives us some insight into the apparent racially regressive attitudes of some of our Canadian neighbors. Perhaps being introduced to positive representations of Black history and culture would be a tremendous benefit to him.
We all play a role. We can effectively help people love who they are and where they come from. That means correct people when they need to be corrected. It means displaying positive images of black people. It means holding each other accountable. It feels like black fellowship. It looks like reengaging in black traditions. It means creating new traditions. It all starts with each of us taking responsibility for our role though.