Let’s begin with this image.
Systemically and historically, racism has prevented and taken each of these categories from Black and Brown communities. DEI efforts tend to focus on increasing access to the bottom two tiers, basic needs and safety. When there have been great efforts to increase access to these human needs, there often then lives an assumption that Black and Brown people can then reach the top - self-actualization. Self-actualization is the realization of one’s full potential. If I provide access to food, housing, jobs, and education - then an individual should be able to be “successful”. Isn’t that where we tend to put our money as a society (donations, government funds, and individual time/energy)?
Where we fail to tend to - is how racism has made people believe an idea that is devastatingly detrimental to our ability to live but not generally recognized as such - and that is to believe “I’m not loved. I’m not loveable.”
Why is this so incredibly important to pay attention to? It is a HUMAN need. Racism dehumanizes Black and Brown people and has explicitly created generational internalized racial oppression that has suppressed our understanding of the power to be loved in our liberation. To be loved by others, by our family, our community, and the world creates power. Many of our leaders have preached this to us and some of us are too ignorant of our own collusion with whiteness to see this as the true path to liberation. Our ego and greed can cause us to continue to seek and demand power through the oppressor’s path.
We are taking turns toward healing these wounds, and I’m hoping to shine a light on where healing should be focused. That healing is in you and begins to address and acknowledge the dehumanization of being made to feel and believe you are not loveable, not worthy of love.
Are there people and memories in your life that lay under that low self-esteem, insecurity, and feeling of inadequacy? Were there people who should have loved you, but instead made you believe there was something wrong with you? These people, although maybe family, consider if they too were simply passing along the hurt and pain and messaging of internalized oppression. Maybe they bought into the belief that “if only you can be educated and find a good career, will you be successful and happy” and therefore focused their good intentions on that. This is not to blame others, but to unpack if this is a belief impacting you. (As I always say, it may not be, and that would actually be great. Each of us has unique lived experiences.)
Consider your intimate relationship/s. Were you looking to be affirmed that you are loveable? Did you learn that you are loveable through that relationship? Why do or did you question if you were loveable? What societal messages did you receive about your personhood that affirmed you, just the way you are? Who has been shown to you in the media that is deserving of love and loveable?
Can you answer the question, what makes you feel loved?
It seems so cheezy to say that love is the solution, and when you begin to source love - you get it! When you can source love for yourself through self-love, even more so, because you’re not looking for an external source to liberate you. When a person is receiving and full of love - they can reach high self-esteem and self-actualization. When they are not, they are limited in their leadership. These limitations become the barriers in front of them preventing them to take the necessary action for transformation. They don’t believe they can possibly transform the system they wish to change. It can’t possibly be them and they continue to look around to see who will do something. A lack of love for one’s self leads to SELF being the barrier and external resources won’t necessarily change the outcomes. When we lack love for ourselves, we get depressed, we stay oppressed.
How many of you have attended a professional development session where love is what is being taught to break systems of oppression? Well if you haven’t, contact us, and let’s ensure this message is spread. Our leaders, students, and communities of color need to believe - YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE LOVEABLE! YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE! SELF-LOVE WILL LIBERATE YOU!