I weigh too much. My body fat percentage is higher than it should be, I need to make some
serious improvements to my ab workout, and my devotion to procrastination sometimes interferes with my ability to tackle the first three issues. All these things about me are true, but they are far from a full definition of who I am, what I work to accomplish, or what I believe I represent as a person. Recently, I was talking to a friend who reminded me about the importance of avoiding negative self-talk in my fitness journey. Not long after, I considered how that relates to the way Black folks often discuss themselves and their “plight”.
As I peruse my various social networking sites, I come across the usual rhetoric – “If Black folks would spend half as much time investing our money as we do buying Jordans, we’d be better off,” or “I see this video of this baby dancing on Facebook, but I bet he doesn’t even know his alphabet yet. Black folks always focused on the wrong thing, that’s why our children are failing” or “That’s the problem with Black relationships, the women aren’t supportive and the men don’t know how to treat a queen.” The list goes on to a seemingly endless location in space and time, and at a certain point, it appears all Black folks are is a bunch of people riddled with problems they can’t ever seem to solve because all they do is waste money on frivolities, make more babies who dance but can’t read, and embark on a series of unhealthy romantic relationships.
Of course, some of these behaviors apply to some Black folks. Just like I weigh too much and tend to procrastinate, some Black folks spend too much money on Jordans without investing in their educational or professional goals, but just as there is far more to me than what I weigh, Black folks far exceed the generalizations we spew about ourselves and I think a lot of what keeps many of us in a life holding pattern is the way we speak about ourselves and the way we absorb and believe the things others say about us. Black folks are brilliant, resilient, resourceful, creative, artistic, and advanced in all areas of professional life. We are inventors, investors, and innovators. We set trends folks chomp at the bit to follow and everything about us, down to the features with which we were born, is emulated. Sure, some of us definitely need to work on our parenting skills and ideas for our long term financial futures, but those shortcomings do not make us any less amazing and are but a small part of the truth of who we are. I think if we started focusing on where we excel more than where we fail, we’d be in a better, more progressive place in general. If all I see in my mirror is a woman who weighs too much and procrastinates, I lose. When I look and see a woman who is smart, witty, hardworking, healthy, active, funny, and progressive, the shortcomings are much easier to master because I’ve acknowledged I have every last tool I need to overcome them. Maybe black folks should try this same thing. If we start talking ourselves up instead of down, we win. We discover ways to overcome the negativity that plagues us and we are more likely to find our brilliance – right under all that negative self-talk. ©