Words, my friends, have power.
The things that people say and even implied messages have such a huge effect on us. It’s a miracle that we can process anything with all the language that we are receiving daily. This includes advertising, media, and so on. I don’t know how many times that the media has shown me that people that look like me aren’t valuable and important. Enough to internalize some things, I can tell you that.
It happens to all of us. We can use the most terrible things to validate our own destructive feelings. Snide comments at work, ugly tirades in articles, less than positive visuals, anything. It all goes back to the messages we chose to let in and those that can’t.
I wonder why so many people are thoughtless with their words and actions. Are they intentionally being hurtful or being ignorant? It can be very hard to tell in our modern society. Some folks are making very good livings being ignorant and inflammatory and I can’t fathom why these people are still allowed in society.
Well actually, I can….
It goes on because people are willing to pull each other down in order to make themselves look better to others or feel better about themselves. I see it more than I’m comfortable with, especially among people of color. Some of us are willing to be hard core “Uncle Toms” to get ahead. Many have gone as far as throwing their own relatives under the bus. (Steve Harvey springs to mind.) Internalized racism is real and dangerous in our communities.
One thing that life has taught me is that the most reliable way to combat negativity is with positivity. It’s time to rewrite the long standing narrative in melaninated communities. Don’t gossip about the single mother down the block. Invite her over and try to connect. That homeless person doesn’t need your pity and scorn. They need your support to get back on their feet. Replace those ugly messages with uplifting ones. Building each other up makes us all stronger.
Putting the work off won’t change things. Trying to shift the responsibility has gotten us where we are now. As Michael Jackson said; “It’s time to make a change.”
We are the ones who can make things better. Let’s get moving.