Something to aspire toPosted: January 21, 2005
I’ve been thinking about this post from Steven Barnes’ blog. Particularly, this section
“this would easily relate to my sense that the negative programs run by America, and black America, pertaining to young black men are absolutely poisonous. That black immigrants who come from a culture in which there are role models and mythologies that support excellence, as opposed to young black men, who, faced with countless dehumanizing and emasculating images in the majority culture turn to the only powerful images they can find. In America, this happens to be Hip-Hop culture right now”
It reminded me of a previous post where I touched on the importance of role models to children. This seems like as good a time as any to talk some more about that.
Heroes give us something to aim for. An idea of what our limitations are, or should be. Children who grow up believing that there are no limitations in what they can accomplish therefore start out with a significant advantage over children who expact to achieve little. For now, even if you don’t believe this accept it as my hypothesis.
Now, the image of black people in the American media is, with very few exceptions, limited to athletic, entertainment, criminal and/or sexual prowess. (sidenote: As for Africans, we’re usually starving, exterminating each other or living in the jungle. However, we retain the same ‘animal’ sexuality) Don’t believe me? Talk to someone from a foreign country whose only exposure to America has been through the media and ask them what they think about black people, or just observe them around black people.
Since these images are all children see, they expect little more of themselves. A good way to counteract this mental poisoning and expand their horizons is to show them as many images as possible of extraordinary people who look like them as possible. This was originally the idea that led Carter G. Woodson to create negro history week, the precursor to black history month. It’s also a large part of the reason why African and Carribean immigrants tend to do comparatively well despite all the racism and idiocy we have to contend with. We have a larger pool of role models to draw on when creating our expectations.