Our greatest challenge as a people is to love and value ourselves. Self-love is the key and necessary factor for loving others and being willing to work with them, share with them, and trust them. We fall short on self-love in that we help, support, and advocate for others over ourselves. We trust others more than we trust our own people; we help them create wealth without creating wealth for ourselves. Self-love would lead us to create our own wealth, and motivate us to multiply and channel that wealth through our businesses and institutions.
If we loved ourselves we would not hold our businesses to a higher standard than we do others. We would use the same measuring rod for every business, and not continue the decades-long boycott against Black businesses by Black people because, “I tried one and they messed up, so I’m never going to use a Black business again.” If we loved ourselves no one would have to beg us to support Black businesses. We would be seeking out, searching for, and running to them with cash in hand.
If we loved ourselves we would not sell or buy bootlegged copies of DVD’s like Hidden Colors, Black Friday, or copy our books, infringe on our copyrights, and use other intellectual properties produced by our brothers and sisters for our own profit. We would understand that they must make a living and a profit from their own work, and when they do that, honestly and professionally, we should rejoice in their success and rally to support them by purchasing their products, because we know they will return some of their profits our overall cause.
If we loved ourselves, we would not tolerate a government that makes light of our past and present oppression. In fact, the government would not dare dismiss us and play “politricks” on us if we loved ourselves. In fact, we would get the same or even more support than the LGBT community gets when they feel like they are discriminated against. We must organize ourselves, be unapologetic about who we are, and be willing to sacrifice for one another, like they do, in order to be taken seriously though.
If we loved ourselves corporations would standup for us the way they do for other groups when they are being mistreated. They would know that if they did not support us and speak against our mistreatment they would not continue to receive the billions they get from our purchases. We must show that we have the power to move them to a genuine and proactive concern for their Black consumers, and turn away from their “depraved indifference,” to borrow a term from Bob Law.
If we loved ourselves, as a group it would be no problem for us to leverage our dollars and our votes to empower ourselves economically and politically. We would invest our dollars in our own projects, our own corporations, and our own businesses. We would turn away from politics as usual by changing our party affiliation to “NPA,” No Party Affiliation, and vote according to our “permanent interests.” If we loved ourselves we would not allow politicians, preachers, and self-appointed or establishment-appointed Black folks to sell us out and still call themselves “our leaders.”
If we loved ourselves, our children would have an excellent education. We would not settle for less. We would take up the gauntlet of educating them ourselves by being the first voice they hear reading a book to them; we would instill in them a thorough knowledge about and appreciation for themselves and their ancestors. Parents and other relatives would be their primary role models.
If we loved ourselves we would find ways to keep our families together. Our communities would be stronger and safer. We would desire a better life for ourselves as a people and then use our God-given gifts to make that happen. Collectively, we would place ourselves first and see to it that we are never taken for granted or ignored—and if that did happen, we would fight back with the weapons of choice these days: dollars and votes. Most of all, we would take responsibility for our security, our sufficiency, and our own success by working together with trust, respect, and love.
Dr. Earl Trent, Pastor of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., wrote in his book, “A Challenge to the Black Church,” that Blacks are taught to “love everybody, especially Whites and other groups,” but we are not taught to a greater extent to love ourselves first.
Of all the elements needed for a people to have true and total liberation, the most critical is love of self. Even the Bible says to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” not instead of yourself.