Sunday, January 04, 2004

I finished Rock My Soul. It was a pretty illuminating read, talking about the various problems that low self esteem supposedly causes for blacks. While I prefer more facts and figures, this book is primarily a book of ideas, not facts. I like hooks' contention that while racism is an important factor, it's not the only factor. I think an over focus on racism may take away from black's ability to fix problems. Not to say that racism doesn't really happen or that it's not really serious, but still, there's other work to be done. I disagree with the idea that just because black people socialize with blacks that those bonds are more affirming of their self esteem than those with whites. Many blacks also have all sorts of notions in their heads such as homophobia, self hate,etc , which can be as damaging to self esteem as a standoffish white companion. I'm not much for hooks' practice of quoting herself, but it's hard to write a lot of books(I have heard she has written 20 books) without repeating yourself.

Of course, there was not much in way of solutions- it mostly tries to show that self esteem goes deeper than we think- and that positive self esteem could go a long way towards fixing black America's problems. However, I'm curious about how you're supposed to talk to people who are compassionate witnesses and don't judge you for your feelings, and at the same time, you're not supposed to talk to people 'stuck in negativity' (i.e. people who have at least rudimentary contact with reality) Also, I would suggest that people do stuff that causes self esteem rather than just saying affirmations. Writing down all that crap isn't going to do anything if you don't do anything to be it. One act of kindness does more for my self esteem than writing "I am kind" a million times. So go out, volunteer, do something real. Of course if you're actually depressed, this probably won't help. Go to a therapist.

Speaking of that I like how hooks talks about the need for mental health services in the black community. So often we want to look like we're strong so much that we end up weakening ourselves by not having our issues taken care of. Sad,huh?

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