Invest in You
It is 3am. As I scroll through IG looking at all the post about POC shattering stereotypes and setting records something keeps itching in the back of my mind. “Invest in you” over and over. It kept me up all night. Now maybe it was my conscience telling me to get cracking on a paper I had been putting off but that’s another story…
Something about one of the Olympians’ story had an interesting effect on me. Someone had sown a seed her that that took root. Ibtihaj Muhammad was told by her mother that she could do whatever sport she wanted as long as she wore her hijab. She could do whatever she wanted as long as she didn’t compromise herself. She remained true to herself and to her faith. Too often we are quick to assimilate because standing apart gets us noticed. Why shouldn’t we stand out? We are different. We are amazing!
We live in a time where our history is being rewritten glossed over and erased. We are being systematically oppressed jailed and killed. I love the Olympics. I’ve watched every one since Atlanta in ’96 but this year I don’t have it in me to have national pride. It seems too hypocritical with everything that has gone on this year. Of course, when a POC wins a medal it’s a big deal. It’s a HUGE DEAL! All that training to be recognized by the world as a champion. My heart swells with pride, but then it fades. Why? In a few days, the games will be over.
A common theme in social media outlets is #representationmatters essentially the idea of sowing a seed that future generations can look up to and emulate. What are we feeding ourselves, our kids? What was the last show you watched where a male POC was not a thug gangster or drug dealer? What popular show doesn’t have black women portrayed as “hoochies” fighting each other over something petty or sleeping around!
A different world (spin-off of the Cosby show) showed literate educated POC attending historically black universities. Young adults carried themselves with self-respect and stood fast in their values. They depicted courting over hooking up and faithful marriages over baby (mama/daddy) situations. 90s television gave positive messages about POC and their families. (Parenthood [the black one], Roc, Taina, Moesha etc.)
Granted we are getting more roles in prime time television shows, but observe how they write our characters. They are planting seeds and too often we are so wrapped up in the fact that someone that looks like us is on television we don’t question what message or image they are portraying.
Side note: I used to love watching Korean dramas until the day I started a new show. The main male lead had returned to Korea after studying abroad in New York. His girlfriend picked him up from the airport and while they were driving she said “I hope you stayed away from black people, they are scary” I actually cried. That is the message they are sowing about us. That day something my mom always ranted when I wanted Asian cuisine came to mind “you think they want to eat Caribbean food, you think they are putting money into our restaurants?”
It’s time that we invest in ourselves both individually and collectively. Sometimes it’s hard to see your own worth when the world tells you you’re worthless. But when you know different it’s hard to be anything other than what’s true. We are worthy. We have the power to change things but we have to be willing to stand up and stand out.
Educate yourself! Educate yourself about where you come from. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Not just through social media; not just the Evening News. Skim local papers and listen to local radio. Get to know and form connections with the people around you. Get involved in local activities and organizations. Support local business. It’s important that we pour into our own community because if we don’t invest in ourselves no one else will. If we are individually rich but our community is dying, we would have failed ourselves as a whole.
Invest In you. Invest in your people. Invest in OUR legacy.