Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem

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9780743456067: Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem

In Rock My Soul, world-renowned scholar and visionary bell hooks takes an in-depth look at one of the most critical issues facing African Americans: a collective wounded self-esteem that has prevailed from slavery to the present day.
Why do so many African Americans -- whether privileged or poor, urban or suburban, young or old -- live in a state of chronic anxiety, fear, and shame?
In Rock My Soul, hooks gets to the heart and soul of the African-American identity crisis, offering critical insight and hard-won wisdom about what it takes to heal the scars of the past, promote and maintain self-esteem, and lay down the roots for a grounded community with a prosperous future.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

bell hooks is a cultural critic, a feminist theorist, and the renowned author of more than twenty books. A charismatic speaker, she divides her time between teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. She lives in Kentucky and New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Healing Wounded Hearts

Self-esteem is not a sexy term. For many folks it conjures up images of self-help issues that were popular "back in the day." Indeed, in our nation public talk about self-esteem was at its highest in the sixties. Then the United States, one of the most powerful and wealthy nations in the world, was producing citizens who were simply discontent with their lot in life, who saw themselves as failures. Many of these individuals had come from upper-class backgrounds, were educated at the best schools, prospered in jobs and careers, moved in elite social circles, and yet found themselves unable to feel truly successful or enjoy life. They went to psychologists seeking a way to gain health for the mind. These individuals were white Americans. Psychology of the fifties had little to say about the psyches and souls of black folks.

In 1954 Nathaniel Branden had a small psychotherapy practice. His clients were all white but from diverse class backgrounds. Working with their issues, he began to focus on the issue of self-esteem. Branden recalls: "Reflecting on the stories I heard from clients, I looked for a common denominator, and I was struck by the fact that whatever the person's particular complaint, there was always a deeper issue: a sense of inadequacy, of not being 'enough,' a feeling of guilt or shame or inferiority, a clear lack of self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-love. In other words, a problem of self-esteem." He published his first articles on the psychology of self-esteem in the sixties.

Racial integration was hotly debated in the early sixties. The issue of whether black people were inferior to whites and therefore would be unable to do well in an integrated work or school context was commonly discussed. Racist white folks insisted everyone did better when they stayed with their own kind. And there were black folks who agreed with them. When the issue of self-esteem was raised in relation to black people, it was just assumed that racism was the primary factor creating low self-esteem. Consequently, when black public figures, most of whom were male at the time, began to address the issue of self-esteem, they focused solely on the impact of racism as a force that crippled our self-esteem.

Militant antiracist political struggles placed the issue of self-esteem for black folks on the agenda. And it took the form of primarily discussing the need for positive images. The slogan "black is beautiful" was popularized in an effort to undo the negative racist iconography and representations of blackness that had been an accepted norm in visual culture. Natural hairstyles were offered to counter the negative stereotype that one could be beautiful only if one's hair was straight and not kinky. "Happy to be nappy" was also a popular slogan among militant black liberation groups. Even black folks whose hair was not naturally kinky found ways to make their hair look nappy to be part of the black-is-beautiful movement. Capitalist entrepeneurs, white and black, welcomed the creation of a new market -- that is, material goods related to black pride (African clothing, picks for hair, black dolls). Market forces were pleased to support the aspect of black pride that was all about new commodities.

Now pride in blackness already existed in every black community in the United States. While its cultural power may never have eliminated internalized racial self-hatred, the movement for racial uplift that began the moment individual free black folks came to the "New World," combined with the force of slave resistance, had already established the cultural foundations for black pride way before the fifties, even though the term self-esteem was not a part of the popular discourse of racial uplift. Writing on the subject of black pride in "Credo" in 1904, W. E. B. Du Bois declared,

I believe in pride of race and lineage and self....I believe in Liberty for all men, the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of God and Love. I believe in the training of children, black even as white; the leading out of little souls into the green pastures and beside the still waters, not for self, or peace, but for Life lit by some large vision of beauty and goodness and truth.

Du Bois advocated working for racial uplift because he was not afraid to examine the ways racism had kept black folks from fully realizing their potential for human development.

This same demand for holistic self-development rooted in black pride was the foundation of the black women's club movement. Speaking in 1916 on the subject of "The Modern Woman," black woman leader Mary Church Terrell shared her vision of the special mission of educated black women: "We have to do more than other women. Those of us fortunate enough to have education must share it with the less fortunate of our race. We must go into our communities and improve them; we must go out into the nation and change it. Above all, we must organize ourselves as Negro women and work together." A militant spirit of racial uplift was the unifying principle of the black women's club movement throughout the nation. The issue was not just to confront and resist racism but to create a culture of freedom and possiblity that would enable all black folks irrespective of class to engage in constructive self-help.

The call for racial uplift in the early twentieth century was not a superficial evocation of black pride; instead it was truly a call for this newly freed mass population of Americans, African and those of African descent, to strive to be fully self-actualized. To some extent the black pride movement of the sixties, with its intense focus on representation, shifted attention away from the moral and ethical demands of racial uplift, its spiritual dimension, and focused solely on the issue of gaining equality with whites. The psyches and souls of black folks needed to be nourished as much as did the individual's need for material goods and basic civil rights in the public sphere. Yet more often than not the inner psychological development of black folks was ignored by those black public figures who were most concerned with gaining equal access within the existing social system.

No wonder then that after major civil rights were gained and militant black power movement had increased social and economic opportunities, the focus on black pride diminished. The need for an organized ongoing program of racial uplift, though acknowledged, never gained meaningful momentum. This may have been a direct consequence of the waning power of black female leadership, especially the political leadership fostered by the black women's club movement. Though often guilty of class elitism, black women in the club movement held values focused on holistic self-development for black people of all classes. Black folks were encouraged to have proper etiquette and manners, to be people of integrity, to educate themselves, to work hard, to be religious, and to value service to others. Indeed, the phrase "racial uplift through self-help" was a common slogan used in black women's organizations.

In the early twentieth century prominent black male leaders began to demand of black women that they cease working in an egalitarian manner alongside black men for racial uplift. This demand changed the tenor and tone of black civil rights struggle. In the twenties patriarchal black male leaders pointedly told black women to step back from the social and political realms. Black nationalism became the vehicle to push black patriarchal values. As a new leader Marcus Garvey used his newspaper, The Negro World, to advocate sexist thinking about the nature of women's role. Articles ran in the paper urging black folks to "go back to the days of true manhood when women truly reverenced us." This resistance to partnership in struggle reached a peak in the early sixties.

When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in his role as assistant secretary of labor, wrote the report "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," his intent, as explained in Too Heavy a Load by historian Deborah Gray White, was "to alert government policy makers to the problems in black America that went beyond desegreation and voting." She contends: "He aimed to demonstrate that neither the Civil Rights movement nor Civil Rights legislation had made an impact on black everyday life. Indeed, the report's survey of unemployment, housing, school dropout rates, crime and delinquency, and intelligence tests revealed that over ten years of Civil Rights protests and national upheaval had not changed the fundamental living conditions of most African-Americans."

Following in the wake of conservative black male patriarchs (in particular the sociologist John Hope Franklin), Moynihan felt the key to black underdevelopment was the lack of patriarchal gender arrangements in black homes. In his report he stated: "Ours is a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs. The arrangements of society facilitate and reward it. A subculture, such as that of the Negro American, in which this is not the pattern, is placed at a distinct disadvantage." When black liberation struggle moved from a focus on mutual racial uplift of black males and females to an insistence that black men dominate and black women maintain a subordinate position, the focus on holistic development shifted to gaining equality with white men. Civil rights movement coupled with militant, patriarchal black liberation struggle successfully challenged the nation so that black people gained greater rights. Racial integration effectively created a cultural context where it was at least clearer to everyone that given equal opportunity, black citizens would excel or fail depending on circumstance just like white citizens. ...

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Descripción SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In Rock My Soul, world-renowned scholar and visionary bell hooks takes an in-depth look at one of the most critical issues facing African Americans: a collective wounded self-esteem that has prevailed from slavery to the present day. Why do so many African Americans -- whether privileged or poor, urban or suburban, young or old -- live in a state of chronic anxiety, fear, and shame? In Rock My Soul, hooks gets to the heart and soul of the African-American identity crisis, offering critical insight and hard-won wisdom about what it takes to heal the scars of the past, promote and maintain self-esteem, and lay down the roots for a grounded community with a prosperous future. Nº de ref. de la librería APC9780743456067

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Descripción SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In Rock My Soul, world-renowned scholar and visionary bell hooks takes an in-depth look at one of the most critical issues facing African Americans: a collective wounded self-esteem that has prevailed from slavery to the present day. Why do so many African Americans -- whether privileged or poor, urban or suburban, young or old -- live in a state of chronic anxiety, fear, and shame? In Rock My Soul, hooks gets to the heart and soul of the African-American identity crisis, offering critical insight and hard-won wisdom about what it takes to heal the scars of the past, promote and maintain self-esteem, and lay down the roots for a grounded community with a prosperous future. Nº de ref. de la librería APC9780743456067

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Descripción Washington Square Press. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. 240 pages. In Rock My Soul, world-renowned scholar and visionary bell hooks takes an in-depth look at one of the most critical issues facing African Americans: a collective wounded self-esteem that has prevailed from slavery to the present day. Why do so many African Americans -- whether privileged or poor, urban or suburban, young or old -- live in a state of chronic anxiety, fear, and shame In Rock My Soul, hooks gets to the heart and soul of the African-American identity crisis, offering critical insight and hard-won wisdom about what it takes to heal the scars of the past, promote and maintain self-esteem, and lay down the roots for a grounded community with a prosperous future. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780743456067

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