Self-hatred has been a long standing problem in the Black community. We have been conditioned to believe being Black is less than and not as good. Today I felt it first hand I was at my local coffee-house, standing behind this young white couple being served by a middle-aged black woman. She was new, I had only seen her there a few times but had never been served by her. She seemed nice. She was friendly, engaging, almost beaming. After a few minutes the young couple got their coffees, paid and they were on their way.
As I stepped to the front of the line, expecting to be greeted with the same warmth and friendliness, I was instead, greeted with a stony impatient stare. The moment she saw me her whole demeanor changed. She sighed and almost rolled her eyes as I walked up to the counter. She plastered on a fake smile and asked in a bored monotone voice what I wanted. Gone was the happy-to-serve-you attitude. There was no friendly chit-chat, although I tried to no avail.
She looked at me and curtly told me the price of my order then looked past me to the white couple standing behind me as if I had never been there. Her beaming face shining, her voice lifted, and the friendly chit-chat was back in full form. I was an inconvenience; someone she had to serve, not someone she wanted to serve. She shoved my overpriced cup of coffee over to me and before I could pick it up, she was back to skinning and grinning for the hipster white couple behind me.
I felt angry and shamed. I felt like going back in there and telling her something about herself, but I didn’t. Instead, I took my coffee, tipped her a dollar and left wondering why some black people feel the need to ingratiate themselves to white people at the cost of other black people?
Why do so many black people have hate for their own kind?
We, have been forced feed this negative narrative about ourselves for so long that many people in our community have become convinced that its true. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. African-Americans have much to be proud of. This country was built on the backs, the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors.
We have contributed to every major category rather that be fighting for civil rights, excellence in academics, the arts, science, politics, and the list goes on. We have much to be proud of, but we still have a long way to go. We have yet to mentally break away from the systematic reinforcement of generational self-hate that began while many of our ancestors were being transported like cattle to their slave masters. They not only wanted to enslave our bodies, but also our minds.
The white man forced slaves to whip and punish other slaves, treating house negros better than field negros, and forced male slaves to sexually assault female slaves. This began the sowing of self-hatred and division among slaves, causing a ripple effect that can still be felt over one hundred and fifty years after slaves were emancipated. Still, we are not free because our minds are not free.
Like my coffeehouse barista who clearly believed that the only way that she could ingratiate herself to her regular white customers was to treat her only black customer as less than. It’s sad, but it doesn’t just happen in suburban coffee houses. Just turn on your television and you will see blacks up and down the dial self-hating.
A prime example of this mentality is former Milwaukee Sheriff and Fox News regular David Clarke who denounced the “Black Lives Matter” movement as “Black Lies Matter” on the Sean Hannity show. During the newscast, he stated that the organization “Reinforces my thesis that this is a hateful ideology, a dangerous ideology. It needs to be opposed wherever it is” (Fox News Insider, 2016). The Sheriff has a clear misconception about the activist’s movement as well as his own race. “Black Lives Matter” is one of several protest groups that came into being because of the unprecedented numbers of young, unarmed African-American men and women murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers and the lack of justice that they and their families received.
We have the power to right this ship, we have the power to change how we are perceived, we have the power to change society, but power without the will to use it is nothing. We are not as white people portray us, they know it and hopefully, one day we as a community, will know it as well.
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