Storytelling is an art and science that has existed in many communities around the world for centuries. According to Ripley (2003), storytelling was the only way to pass down cultural practices, values, and believes from one generation to the next before written records emerged. Storytelling is still common among Africans who believe written records do not accurately capture the feelings that are vital to their beliefs and practices. Cross, Parham, and Helms (2019) observe that when African Americans came to the United States through the middle passage, they held onto their culture, and storytelling was the only way that they could pass it to the younger generation.
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Black culture has played a major role in defining the current popular American culture. Although increased interaction in church, institutions of learning, and at work among people of different races have helped to fuse different cultures to what Americans currently consider universally acceptable, Wijeyesinghe and Jackson (2012) believe that people from different races and cultural backgrounds still hold varying beliefs in the country. African Americans have retained aspects of the self that can be traced to various regions of Africans and embracing ancestral cultural practices can provide a vehicle for growth and development that is not present in conventional Western practices. This curriculum is a guide to helping young people investigate the impressions and expressions of cultural storytelling develop a positive identity among young scholar-activists and artists and understand the significance of storytelling in the modern society.
A critical an unbiased analysis of the history of Black people shows that they were creative and understood how to solve problems within their immediate environment. According to Wijeyesinghe and Jackson (2012), Blacks understood how to survive in the harsh environment by manipulating different forces within the environment to suit their needs. As such, they played a major role in modern civilization. Unfortunately, this rich history is lost because of a culture that views Blacks are primitive people with a significantly limited intellectual capacity compared with Whites. In this section of the paper, the researcher seeks to discuss the black magic; the innovative ways that these people have taken to solve problems within the society.
There is a need to change the narrative that Blacks are less innovative by reviewing what they did from the birth of civilization and ancient African society to modern era where technology has become the center-stage of innovation. The following are the learning objectives that the study seeks to realize:
- To understand the role that ancient African societies played to define the modern civilization;
- To explain how Blacks used innovative ways to solve various socio-economic and security challenges that they faced;
- To define the Black identity as discussed in Cross’ theory of black identity development;
- To discuss how socio-political and economic forces in the United States succeeded in dismissing the role Blacks played in the modern civilization.
Theory of Change
William Cross developed a theory that helps explain the process through which Blacks, especially the African Americans, come to embrace their identity based on their race. The theory identifies five stages that an individual would go through. The first stage is the pre-encounter (Ripley, 2003). At this moment, one is not concerned about their racial identity because they are yet to have an encounter with people of different races. As such, the issue of racial identity means little to them. The second stage is the encounter. Ivory and Toldson (2017) argue that when they meet individuals of other races and notice the difference, there would be an awakening that leads to racial consciousness. They get to understand that they are different from others. They start to question their identity at this second stage.
The theory defines the third stage as immersion-emersion. An individual at this stage will try to own his identity by getting increasingly involved with activities associated with Blacks. They try to trace their background and to justify why it is okay to be black. They would dissociate with the white culture as a way of entrenching black culture in the society. In a few cases, some individuals would deliberately avoid engaging with people from other cultural backgrounds because they feel they do not relate with values of African Americans (Tynnhammar, 2018). The fourth stage is the internalization process.
An individual will realize that it is necessary to forge mutually beneficial to members of other races. They get to understand that being of different races does not mean people cannot work as a unit to solve common problems. However, Graham (2019) observes that individuals in this stage are often sensitive about racial slurs. The last stage is the internalization-commitment, where one gets to become comfortable in their ethnic identity (Woods, 2018). They get to appreciate that they are blacks and nothing can change that fact. They also get to believe that there is nothing wrong with their racial identity and that they play as crucial a role in the country’s socio-economic and political development as members of other races.
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Blacks played a critical role in the modern civilization, but most of their contributions have been lost in the history. The contact that Northern African communities had with Europe and Middle Eastern kingdoms demonstrates the level of civilization and innovativeness of these communities during that period. Rich and Tsitsos (2016) observe that it is unfortunate that the only time that whites gained meaningful contact with the rest of African kingdoms was during the colonization period. Europe had made significant economic and technological advancements that Africans could not match. However, the level of resistance that the colonizers faced in West and parts of North and South Africa is a demonstration of the skills and capabilities of Africans during that period. In fact, Gnamo (2014) observes that Ethiopians did not go through colonization. Under the leadership of Empire Menelik II, Ethiopians were able to manipulate Italian forces, get their weapons, and then use the same weapons to defeat them at the Battle of Adwa (Gnamo, 2014). It was a clear demonstration of the unique capacity of Africans at a time when they had not been influenced significantly by whites.
Black innovation from the birth of civilization and ancient societies in African, to modern Black colleges. African communities were very innovative prior to their encounter with Europeans. According to Paris (1985), the constant attacks by hostile communities meant that the survival of a kingdom depended on how well people there could defend it. As such, they had to be creative in developing means of protecting themselves from potential attacks. The Ancient Egypt are known for their pyramids, which stood the test of time for thousands of years. They also developed the concept mummification as a way of preserving their loved ones upon death. The Moroccans were known for their passion for trade as they interacted with Europeans, especially the Spanish and Italians. They were skilled in war and other economic activities.
The innovativeness of Africans has persisted to modern days. The modern black colleges, often referred to as HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities), have played a critical role in equipping young learners with unique skills that can enable them overcome challenges in the modern American society (Gnamo, 2014). Leaders of civil rights movement in the United States such as Martin Luther King, W.EB Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington are some of the revolutionaries who went through these colleges. Some new colleges have also emerged across the country to serve the interest of African Americans who feel that some of the existing institutions of higher learning do not serve their interests.
Innovation hubs and economic empowerment zones. According to Cross, Parham, and Helms (2019), a new wave of innovation hubs has hit the United States and some of them are exclusively for African Americans. These institutions equip young blacks with unique skills that they can apply at work. Cozzens and Thakur (2014) observe that there are also economic empowerment zones where blacks get to learn how to become financially literate. Dr. Umar Johnson, one of the current revolutionary leaders championing for the empowerment of African Americans, developed the FDMG Academy as an economic empowerment zone for blacks in America (Cozzens & Thakur, 2014). Such institutions enable them to make sound economic decisions.
Spiritual institutions and creative districts. Spiritual institutions have also played a major role in defining black civilization in the American society. According to Woods (2018), an overwhelming majority of Africans in the United States are Christians. Religion helps in defining how Africans make critical decisions, especially when faced with various socio-economic challenges. It promotes rational decision and the need to respect others even when one is under verbal attacks. Some of these churches have creative districts where women are empowered economically. There is a commitment to ensure that they can play major roles in the socio-economic development of the country.
Redefine Blackness from the posture of negativity and deficits, to the stance of assets and strength. An analysis of the history of Africans shows that they played a major role in the modern civilization even before interacting with Europeans. However, it is unfortunate that there has been a deliberate attempt to hide the important role they have played in the society (Gnamo, 2014). Instead, they have the posture of negativity and deficit has been the common narrative for decades. In the past and in present society, blacks have been the strength and an asset in the society. From playing a role in the construction of the White House to being part of scientific organization such as NASA, Africans are playing leading roles in the economic advancements of the United States.
The analysis above shows that Africans have been innovative from the ancient times before they even interacted with Europeans. In the ancient times, various kingdoms in North, West, East, and South Africa thrived because of their innovativeness in overcoming various social challenges. The Egyptian Empire had a significant impact in defining early civilization in Europe, especially in the construction sector. The Ethiopian Empire thwarted the attempts of colonizers to take over the country during the scramble for Africa because of the innovativeness of the people and visionary leadership. The paper has addressed the objectives of the study by addressing how ancient Africans played a role in modern civilization and how they are doing it in the modern society. Cross theory, helps explain the path that blacks take towards understanding and embracing their racial identity. Embracing one’s race means appreciating who one is while at the same time understanding that in this society we must work as a unit despite the possible differences in skin color.
The study shows that Africans themselves can only change the popular misconception that blacks are primitive and incapable of playing leading roles in the country’s socio-economic and political development. They have to bring out a different narrative for blacks of their commitment and capacity to help promote growth in the country. The following discussion questions will help in promoting the positive narrative:
- What role did the ancient African societies play to define the modern civilization?
- How did Blacks use innovative ways to solve various socio-economic and security challenges that they faced?
- What is Black identity as discussed in Cross’ theory of black identity development?
- How did socio-political and economic forces in the United States succeed in dismissing the role Blacks played in the modern civilization?
- What can African Americans do to ensure that they redefine Blackness from the posture of negativity and deficits, to the stance of assets and strength?
- Cozzens, S., & Thakur, D. (2014). Innovation and inequality: Emerging technologies in an unequal world. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishers.
- Cross, W. E., Parham, T. A., & Helms, J. E. (2019). The stages of black identity development: Nigrescence models. American Psychological Association, 4(1), 6-17.
- Gnamo, A. H. (2014). Conquest and resistance in the Ethiopian empire, 1880-1974: The case of the Arsi Oromo. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
- Graham, M. (2019). Digital economies at global margins. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
- Ivory A. & Toldson, I. A. (2017). Morehouse at 150: destroying 7 myths that challenge the excellence of HBCUs. The Root. Web.
- Paris P. J. (1985). The social teaching of the black churches. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
- Rich, M. A. & Tsitsos, W. (2016). Avoiding the ‘SoHo effect’ in Baltimore: Neighborhood revitalization and arts and entertainment districts. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(4), 736-756.
- Ripley, L. A. (2003). Perspectives in history. Journal of Alpha Beta PHI, 3(1), 1-96.
- Tynnhammar, M. (2018). New waves in innovation management research. Wilmington, DE: Vernon Press.
- Wijeyesinghe, C., & Jackson, B. W. (2012). New perspectives on racial identity development: Integrating emerging frameworks. New York, NY: New York University Press.
The Talking Drum, Music as a Weapon
Music has always been a critical tool of communication among Africans. According to Hadley and Yancy (2012), in the ancient times Africans would use music during war to encourage their warriors, at work to encourage laborers, and during major ceremonies such as circumcision. Music has remained an important weapon in the modern society used by the oppressed to express their frustration, those in love to express their affection, and senior members of the society to guide the youth. The concept of the talking drum was relevant to African American slaves and blacks during the American Civil Rights Movement (Toldson & Pasteur, 1972). In this paper, the focus is to discuss how blacks have been using music as a tool and a weapon to achieve specific goals.
- The use of music to pass a message has been a common phenomenon in many societies across the world for centuries. The following are the specific objectives that the researcher seeks to realize through this study:
- To examine the role that music has historically played in Black social justice movements;
- To determine the effectiveness of music in passing coded and direct message to the targeted audience;
- To discuss the connection between music used to fight colonization and abolition of slavery and that used to fight racism in the modern society;
- To discuss how African Americans currently use music to fight racism and socio-economic challenges that they face in the country.
Theory of Change
Music has been used for long as a therapy as recorded in different historical books. In the bible, King Saul would rely on music whenever he was mentally troubled (Mcclendon, 2015). It provided him with the consolation he needed to make sober decisions during difficult times. Music was a source of entertainment during the ancient times. Floyd (1995) defines music therapy as the use of music to address cognitive, emotional, and social needs of individuals and groups in different social settings. In clinical practice, evidence-based studies have proven that music has a therapeutic impact on patients. One only needs to select the right melodies based on the patient’s personal preferences. According to Brodber (2017), people often go through stressful events that one can only overcome with the help of a good music. It sooths away the emotional pain and creates comfort even at most challenging times. During the period of slavery, African Americans heavily relied on music to help them overcome the pain of confinement, forced labor, emotional, and physical torture (Henderson, 1973). It provided them hope for a better future in the foreign land despite the grimness of their situation.
According to Sithole (2012), it may not be possible to determine the origin of music precisely, but it must have existed for millions of years. Some scholars believe that music came into being before the emergence of language as a means of communication. It has since become one of the most powerful means of passing messages and entertainment in the modern society. African communities had music for different occasions long before they had contact with the whites (Gonzalez & Hayes, 2009). There were songs for war, harvesting, circumcision, wedding, and death ceremonies. It helped in passing coded messages to the audience and passing critical cultural beliefs and practices from one generation to the other. When they came to the United States as slaves, music was one of the most important factors that defined their identity. It was the most powerful tool that they could use to protect their identity.
The Black music has played a major role in the quest for Black liberation in different continents, from abolition, to anti-colonialism, to modern-day activism (Mcclendon, 2015). In the United States, there was a constant fight to abolish slavery soon after the country gained independence. Slaves used war songs to motivate themselves as they fought slave owners in both the northern and southern states. The bloody wars forced President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation 1862 (Brodber, 2017). It came to effect a year later and slave owners agreed to free their slaves. These employers were at liberty to hire them as laborer at a fee. In Africa, music became one of the most important weapons used during the fight for colonialism. As Brodber (2017) observes, Africans knew that European soldiers had sophisticated weapons and were better-trained soldiers. However, they knew that their freedom at to come at any cost, including paying the ultimate price. They relied on songs of war to get the emotional strength to go to war. It enabled them to achieve their goal even though many lost their lives.
When African countries were gaining independence in the 1960s, African Americans were fighting a new war in the form of civil rights movement (Mahoney, 2016). They felt that even though they were no longer slaves in this country, society still treated the as less deserving American citizens. The main problem in this society was segregation. Systems favored whites at the expense of Blacks. When civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Junior, Mohammed Ali, and Malcolm X used their oratory skills to champion for the rights of blacks in this society, gifted singers such as Elle Fitgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Ben King turned to music to encourage African Americans to fight racism (Brodber, 2017). They used coded messages in their songs to pass their messages to their black audience. They wanted an American society where white schools, white hospitals, white neighborhoods, and all other white privileges abolished. These activists believed that there should be equal opportunities for people of different races in America. Although it took long to realize these dreams, Mahoney (2016) observes that the American society has changed significantly from what it was in the 1960s, and most of what these people fought for is a reality today.
Modern-day activism is still common in the United States as blacks fight against elements of racism at school, workplace environment, and in the political arena. Although the country made a major milestone when it had its first African American president, Barrack Obama, the inequality between blacks and whites is still common in the country. Whites dominate top colleges in the country. Brodber (2017) note that it is easier for a white to get a prestigious job than a black is even if the African American has higher academic qualification. In the workplace, statistics show that on average, whites earn less than their black colleagues do in the same job group do (Mahoney, 2016). The same trend of favoritism is common in top government position, which means that African Americans are yet to achieve equal status as their Caucasian counterparts. Modern day musicians such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, the Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye have used music to promote cohesion and fight racist trends.
It is important to understand the connections between the music of Fela Kuti that was instrumental in the fight against colonial corruption in West Africa, the pro-social and Harlem Renaissance jazz popular in the 1930s, songs of civil rights marches in the 1960s and part of 1970s, and the resistance hip-hop in the 1990s (Sims-Alvarado, 2017). One of the central themes in all the cases was the need to disobey oppressive authorities. From West Africa to North America, civil disobedience became the best tool to fight racism. Artists composed songs that explained to black masses reasons why they needed to disobey the white rulers that denied them the right to enjoy equal opportunities as the rest of the society. The jazz in the 1930s and songs of civil rights movement in the 1960s focused on fighting segregation and deliberate attempt by the white ruling class to demonstrate that blacks were of inferior race to the rest of other races in the country. Sims-Alvarado (2017) observes that different artists took different approaches in the fight. Some championed for cohesion and encouraged their people to show compassion even when they are brutalized. On the other hand, others championed for a more radical approach that involved the use of violence against the perceived oppressors.
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Music is a tool and a weapon in the society critical in achieving specific goals depending on the challenges that the society face. Music is an important therapy for the sick as it helps eliminate the emotional pain. It is widely used in different ceremonies to entertain, educate, and encourage people towards a common course. In Africa, it helped in driving out the colonizers at a time when whites had superior weapons to those of the blacks. In the United States, music has been instrumental in fighting slavery, racism, and deliberate attempt by some white rulers to deny blacks their rightful position in the country as citizens with equal rights.
Music has and will continue to be a powerful tool used to promote specific beliefs and practices and to fight negative vices in the society. The researcher developed the following questions from the learning objectives above:
- What role has music historically played in Black social justice movements?
- What is the effectiveness of music in passing coded and direct message to the targeted audience?
- What is the connection between music used to fight colonization and abolition of slavery and that used to fight racism in the modern society?
- How do African Americans currently use music to fight racism and socio-economic challenges that they face in the country?
- How did Fela Kuti use music as a weapon to fight colonial corruption in West Africa?
- Brodber, E. (2017). Black consciousness and popular music in Jamaica in the 1960S and 1970s. Journal of Caribbean Culture, 31(2), 53-66.
- Floyd, S. A. (1995). The power of Black music: Interpreting its history from Africa to the United States. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Gonzalez, T., & & Hayes, B. G. (2009). Rap music in school counseling based on Don Elligan’s rap therapy. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 4(2), 161-172.
- Hadley, S & Yancy, G. (2012). Therapeutic uses of rap and hip-hop. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Henderson, S. (1973). Understanding the new black poetry: Black speech and black music as poetic references. New York, NY: William Morrow & Co., Inc.
- Mahoney, E. (2016). American Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
- Mcclendon, W. H. (2015). Black music: Sound and feeling for black liberation. Journal of Black Studies and Research, 7(5), 20-25.
- Sims-Alvarado, K. (2017). Atlanta and the civil rights movement: 1944-1968. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.
- Sithole, T. (2012). Fela Kuti and the oppositional lyrical power. Journal of Music Research in Africa, 9(1), 1-12.
- Toldson, I. L., & Pasteur, A. B. (1972). Soul music: Techniques for therapeutic intervention. Journal of Non-White Concerns in Personnel and Guidance, 1(1), 3-14.
How to Eat Your Watermelon
The stereotype that blacks are inferior to whites has been a common phenomenon for centuries, but Bigler and Liben (1992) argue that the most important thing is how blacks choose to respond to such negativities. When others believe that they are superior, it will not matter much until the one stereotyped against believe that they are indeed inferior. The spirited fight that civil rights leaders put in the past in the United States against racists show that they disagreed with the perception that they are inferior. They chose to do something about it. The worst tragedy can be a situation where an individual believe these negativities and gives up the fight. In this section, the researcher will investigate how blacks have often responded to different stereotypes against them.
The mental strength of black civil rights activists such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Du Bois made it possible to transform the American society from a racially segregated community to a more tolerant society where people of different races can mingle freely. Blacks can eliminate the current problem of racism, if they are positive. The following are the learning objectives that had the researcher focused on in this section of the paper:
- To explore common black stereotypes and black cultural appropriation and misappropriations;
- To learn how blacks have responded to different stereotypes about black people in positive and negative ways;
- To discuss the intersections of artistic expression and the reinforcement of negative black images;
- To evaluate the history of minstrel and blackface shows and the controversial black artistic appropriations of negative stereotypes.
Theory of Change
Social cognitive theory is one of the best models that can help explain how blacks choose to eat their watermelon, how they opt to address the problem of stereotyping in the society. It has various assumptions relevant to this study. One of its main assumptions is that individuals can learn through observation (Ward and Monique, 2019). One can gain new knowledge by observing others or a model. Civil rights activists such as Malcolm X and King are some of the models that the current black society can use to learn how to respond to common stereotypes. These activists chose not to believe the concept that they were inferior to whites, and as such, opted to fight for what they believed was right. They fought white superiority using their oratory skills, songs, and other means they found effective in their quest.
The second assumption of this theory is that learning is an internal process and it may not necessarily lead to a change of behavior. One of the common stereotypes against blacks is that they are drug abusers (Rudman, Ashmore, & Gary, 2019). One can choose to learn from these negativities or ignore them and choose a different path. Drug abuse is a common problem among American youths, but the popular media has often propagated the belief that it is a uniquely African problem. When a black chooses to believe in these negativities, they can easily become drug addicts, with the stereotype as the justification for their actions. On the other hand, one can opt to embrace a different belief and take a more responsible approach to life.
The third assumption is the concept of goal-directed behavior (Welch, 2007). People tend to set goals and then set plans of realizing them. In a society where blacks face numerous negative stereotypes, one can set personal goals on how to overcome them. One can decide to avoid drug abuse, crime, and any negativity often associated with blacks. It is one of the best ways of responding to these negativities. Ziff (1997) also note that this theory holds that behavior can be self-regulated. One can choose to embrace a given path of life depending on the prevailing circumstances. It means that if one is alcoholic, they can decide to change as a way of transforming their lives. In a society that views blacks as failures, such a positive transformation can help change negative narratives directed against African Americans.
It is true that African Americans face various negative stereotypes in the society, but the most important thing is how they choose to approach it. As Ward and Monique (2019) observe, how one chooses to eat their watermelon is what matters in a situation where one has a choice when faced with a given problem. Blacks have a choice on how they can address the negative perception that a section of the community has against them. The country has enacted laws meant to fight this vice, which means that no one can deny another an opportunity to prosper in this community. Welch (2007) believes that the current problem of racism has become a mental war that requires an individual to fight the inferiority complex when dealing with them.
Exploring black stereotypes and black cultural appropriation and misappropriation is critical in achieving success in this war. It is true that the historical injustices created a scenario where blacks are generally not as rich compared with the whites. As such, they are forced to live in poor neighborhoods, attend less equipped schools and hospitals, and sometimes rely on government aids to make ends meet (Rudman, et al. 2019). However, that does not mean they lack the capacity to achieve economic freedom. The stereotype that blacks cannot make sound economic decisions is wrong and the affected group must believe so. As explained in the social cognitive theory, it all starts in the mind. That economic freedom is possible when one believes so. When blacks believe that they can become major players in the country’s socio-economic and political progress, then nothing can stop them.
There is the intersection of artistic expression and the reinforcement of negative black images. Weisenfeld (2019) explains that artists must understand that they have an immense influence on the behavior that youths embrace. At this critical stage of development, these individuals often rely on the popular media to know what is wrong from what is right. When some of these songs glorify crime, unnecessary civil obedience, and abuse of alcohol, then they will embrace it. The glorification of a gangster life in hip-hop has a significantly negative impact on young black Americans, especially when they are seeking acceptance among their peers (Bigler & Liben, 1992). The film industry has taken over the role that storytelling had in passing over cultural beliefs and practices from one generation to another. As such, screenwriters, film directors, actors must always endeavor to take advantage of such opportunities to promote positivity among blacks.
Evaluating the history of blackface and minstrel shows can help understand how deeply racism became entrenched in the American society. During the 19th century, Weisenfeld (2019) observes that minstrel show became very popular among whites. These comic skirts depicted blacks as mentally inferior individuals who were trying to compete against the racially superior whites. The blackface also emerged in the twentieth century as a theatrical makeup used by non-blacks to mock African Americans. It was effective in provoking blacks as it emphasized their inferiority in the society. The controversial black artistic appropriations of negative stereotypes have been one of the biggest tragedies in response to this problem.
Blaxploitation emerged in the United States in the 1970s where African Americans agreed to take acting roles that depicted them as drug peddlers, drug abusers, burglars, robbers, and petty thieves. Black women took the role of prostitutes or pimps (Weisenfeld, 2019). Then there was the gangster rap where artists would shoot their videos smoking bhang, driving recklessly in the highways, fighting law enforcement agencies, and engaging in such other irresponsible activities. The problem was that blaxploitation and gangster rap only entrenched the negative stereotypes in the society. To the black community, it created the perception that it is normal to act in such socially undesirable ways. To the other races, it reinforced the belief that blacks tend to be wild and would always try to break the law. The outcome of such sad response to stereotypes is that there has been frequent arbitrary arrest of blacks. The judicial system is also more likely to find African Americans guilty when presented with circumstantial evidence than is the case when a white is involved (Rudman, et al. 2019). The tragedy of the situation is that blacks who have the capacity to transform the narrative through their art are exacerbating it.
Competition is a common phenomenon among human beings, and as such, there is always the desire of one group to be superior to others or considered so. Racism is the fight for that superiority at the highest level within the country. Blacks have been the victims of such desire for superiority. Stereotypes against blacks often portray them as wild and dangerous people who will always disregard the law for cheap thrills. These stereotypical beliefs do not define who blacks really are in the American society. The study shows that the manner in which blacks people respond to these negative beliefs about them matters the most. Musicians and actors should not use the platform they have to reinforce these negative beliefs.
What others think about blacks may not matter as much as what these blacks think about themselves. The way they choose to respond to stereotypes is critical in defining who they become and the way others view them in the society. The study sought to answer the following questions:
- What are the common black stereotypes and black cultural appropriation and misappropriations in the United States?
- How has the black community responded to different stereotypes about black people in positive and negative ways?
- What are the intersections of artistic expression and the reinforcement of negative black images?
- Why is blackface an offense to black people?
- How can black celebrities, especially musicians and actors use their unique position to fight negative stereotypes against blacks?
- Bigler, R. S., Liben, L. S. (1992). Cognitive mechanisms in children’s gender stereotyping: Theoretical and educational implications of a cognitive‐based intervention. Society for Research in Child Development, 63(6), 1351-1363.
- Rudman, L. A., Ashmore, R. D., & Gary, M. L. (2019). Unlearning automatic biases: The malleability of implicit prejudice and stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 206(1), 4-14.
- Ward, L. Monique, W. L. (2019). Wading through the stereotypes: Positive and negative associations between media use and black adolescents’ conceptions of self. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Weisenfeld, J. (2019). New world a-coming: Black religion and racial identity during the great migration. New York, NY: New York University Press.
- Welch, K. (2007). Black criminal stereotypes and racial profiling. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 23(3), 7-21.
- Ziff, B. (1997). Borrowed power: Essays on cultural appropriation. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Do Or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance
Violence is one of the greatest threats that blacks face in different parts of the world. In the United States, assassinations of prominent human rights activists such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and extrajudicial killings by American law enforcement agencies have been common for the past several decades. According to MacDougall (2002), police brutality is a common phenomenon in black dominated neighborhoods where there is a general perception that there is lack of law and order. It creates an environment where people of color live in constant fear of suffering a potential physical harm primarily because of their race. This section looks at the problem of violence that blacks go through and the way music and storytelling can help eliminate this vice in the society.
The use of violence is a common way of forcing the weak into submission in places where people have no regard for the law. Even in countries such as the United States that value the rule of law, violence against a section of the society, especially the blacks, is common. The following are the learning objectives in this section of the paper:
- To understand reasons why blacks are more susceptible to verbal and physical violence in the United States and other parts of the world;
- To learn about ways that black people have resisted violence mated against them;
- To identify primary factors that cause violence against black people in the society;
- To identify the role that storytelling and music can play to help fight violence as a vice in the society.
Theory of Change
Human beings differ in several ways, as Young (1992) observes. The difference may be in the form of race, religion, gender, academic attainments, preferences, and in various other settings. It is important to appreciate the fact that no two different people may have everything in common. It is barbaric for an individual or a group of people to use violence against the other because of these differences. Humanism as an ethical and philosophical stance holds that the value of a human being, whether it is individually or collectively, is supreme to very other belief (Diedrich, Gates, & Pedersen, 1999). It holds that a person can have the liberty of believing in any religious practices or social norms, but it should not be at the expense of human life.
The philosophy of humanism was a major step towards having respect for human lives in many communities, especially in some African countries that embraced dogma that allowed human sacrificing (Waldrep, 2006). The sanctity of life has become a common and popular concept around the world. The philosophy encouraged individuals and state agencies to respect life of a person. Any form of violence is a direct threat to humanity. When one uses physical force against others to achieve personal gains, there is the threat that the attacked may lose his or her life (Ellsworth, 1992). Verbal violence may cause emotional frustration, which also goes against the concept of humanity.
Violence against blacks is a common phenomenon not only in North America but also in other parts of the world, including in Africa. The vice may come in the form of a black civilian attacking another black civilian, a white civilian attacking a black civilian, or law enforcement agencies using excessive force against a black. Whichever approach that it takes, violence is a negative force that creates fear, can lead to physical suffering, and in some cases loss of lives. Embrick (2015) observes that there are cases in the recent past where law enforcement agencies would shoot unarmed black men, especially during police checks in the highway because of the belief that blacks are always violent. In such preemptive attacks, the justification would often be that the officer felt threatened and took the action to defend their lives. In the 1960s, violence rocked most of the black dominated neighborhoods because of the prevalence of criminal activities. The problem is still common today, especially among drug traffickers (Bennett, 2010). The do not hesitate to use their weapons to eliminate competition in the market or any other form of threat.
Several studies have outlined the vulnerability of black lives within the country and other parts of the world in different contexts, including that of the immortality of black art. Some black artists have failed the society by using their popularity to propagate violence as a means of solving problems (Weissinger, Mack, & Watson, 2017). Such an approach may be counterproductive and when the target decides to use violence to get justice, then it is possible that even the attacker may become the victim. According to Watts (2001), some black arts focus the use of unlawful means to gain quick wealth. These arts portray gangsters as successful people who lead lavish lives and are invisible to the law enforcement agencies. They eliminate the real and imagined enemies with ease and without any consequences. The truth is that such depictions are misleading but unfortunately, they are easy to believe, especially among the power and wealth thirsty youths unwilling to take the long tiring route to economic empowerment.
Violence against black people may take various forms depending on different factors. Watts (2001) notes that it all started with the concept of the middle passage before colonization. African chiefs and intermediaries would sell their enslaved Africans in African kingdoms to Europeans to work in different parts of the world. The moment an individual became a slave all the fundamental human rights were lost. It meant that the slave owner had the mandate to do anything they pleased with their slaves, including dangerous experimentation and even murder. According to Jackson (2019), African slaves went through great suffering in the hands of slave masters. Most of them died of starvation while others lost their lives in abandoned camps because of failing to meet the expectations of their masters.
The post-reconstruction lynching became another form of violence in post-colonial Africa. In what Watts (2001) refers to as mob justice, cases have been witnessed where suspects of different crimes are violently brutalized, with some losing their lives. Bennett (2010) observes that some of these victims lost their lives in the hands of mobsters because of petty theft, often precipitated by hunger. Mass murders of black communities became common during the struggle for independence in Africa. Historical records shows that Germans, Italians, Britons, Portuguese, and other European colonizers committed mass murders in various parts of the African continent as a way of suppressing the rebellion. Targeted assassination is another common form of violence against blacks. In Africa, visionary leaders such as Thomas Sankara and Samora Machel lost their lives in the hand of assassins. In the United States, King and Malcolm X faced the same fate at a time when they were fighting for the rights of blacks.
It is important to understand the modern threats of violence such as death by police, which is becoming a common problem in the country. The government has enacted policies that limit the use of disproportionate force by the police when making their arrests. However, that has not stopped rogue officers from using lethal force even when the threat has been neutralized (MacDougall, 2002). Gang violence is another common problem in many black neighborhoods, especially in regions where drug trafficking is a common practice. According to Jackson (2019), Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oklahoma City, Newark, and Oakland are hotbeds of gang homicides. One of the common characteristics that these cities share is that trade in and use of illegal substances such as drugs and illegal weapons are high. The organized gangs would attack one another for control of territories of elimination of threats. Some of the victims are blacks involved in the illicit trade.
Art and storytelling are powerful tools that can help to bring clarity and perspective in the society, promote resilience and healing among the victims, and inspire activism. Those in the film industry should reconsider using violence as a means of solving problems or eliminating competition (MacDougall, 2002). Instead, they should forge a new narrative where people embrace dialogue with their competitors and people that may have views different from their own. In popular art, there should be a deliberate attempt to promote a message of reconciliation, healing, and unity in the highly diversified society. Many youths currently rely on the media to learn about life because parents are no longer available to offer the needed guidance.
Violence is currently one of the main threats that blacks face in the global community. In the United States, targeted assassinations and police brutality are some of the most common forms of violence that they face. Cases of gang attacks are also common, as discussed above. The philosophy of humanity encourages compassion and respect for life. However, it is unfortunate that many often ignore the practice and get involved in activities that pose great danger to lives of blacks. Artists need to focus on promoting a culture that respects human life. Storytelling should also champion for alternative means of solving conflicts instead of the use of physical force.
The use of force to achieve personal means is a common problem in many parts of the world. However, this study shows that using violence against the weak or a section of the society is a barbaric practice that people should avoid at all costs. The study has looked at different forms of violence, their causes, and steps that can help to address it. The following are the discussion questions that emerged from the analysis:
- Why blacks are more susceptible to verbal and physical violence in the United States and other parts of the world?
- What are the ways that black people have resisted violence mated against them?
- What are the primary factors that cause violence against black people in the society?
- What is the role that storytelling and music can play to help fight violence as a vice in the society?
- How can the society use art and storytelling to bring clarity and perspective, promote resilience and healing, and inspire activism?
- Bennett, H (2010). The black panthers and the assassination of Fred Hampton. Journal of Pan African Studies, 3(6), 215-231.
- Diedrich, M., Gates, H. L., & Pedersen, C. (1999). Black imagination and the middle passage. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Ellsworth, S. (1992). Death in a promised land: The Tulsa race riot of 1921. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
- Embrick, D. G. (2015). Two nations, revisited: The lynching of black and brown bodies, police brutality, and racial control in ‘post-racial’ Amerikkka. Critical Sociology, 41(6), 1-12.
- Jackson, K. C. (2019). Force and freedom: Black abolitionists and the politics of violence. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
- MacDougall, C. (2002). Rogers’s person-centered approach: Consideration for use in multicultural counseling. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(2), 1-16.
- Waldrep, C. (2006). Lynching in America: A history in documents. New York, NY: New York University Press.
- Watts, J. G. (2001). Amiri Baraka: The politics and art of a Black intellectual. New York, NY: New York University Press.
- Weissinger, S. E., Mack, D. E., & Watson, E. (2017). Violence against black bodies: An intersectional analysis of how black lives continue to matter. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Young, T. R. (1992). Chaos theory and human agency: Humanist sociology in a postmodern era. Humanity & Society, 16(4), 441-456.
Black people have a role in defining their identity in the society. They should not allow racists to define their identity based on negative stereotypes that fail to understand African values such as compassion, unity, and the desire to have a peaceful world. Visual artists and musicians have a major role to play in changing the negative narrative and transforming the perception that others have towards blacks. They also have a role to play in promoting responsibility and the rule of law among young blacks who are seeking for guidance and understanding of their identity. In this section of the paper, the focus is to discuss how black people have used various forms of expression such as art, music, and fashion to make political statements and redefine the identity of blacks in the society.
Over the past several decades, numerous successful black artists have emerged in different parts of the world. Musicians such as Beyonce, Rihana, Jay Z, and Mariah Carey are some of the most influential singers in the modern history. Danzel Washington, Will Smith, Jamie Fox, Morgan Freeman, Terrence Howard, and Tyler Parry are some of the most successful actors and film directors. They can use their influential positions to redefine the identity of blacks. The following are the learning objectives for this section of the paper:
- To learn about how blacks have used various forms of expressions (art, music and fashion) to make a political statement;
- To determine the capacity of art and music to redefine the identity of blacks in the society;
- To determine the capacity of music and arts to present accurate history and identity of blacks in the country;
- To determine how black musicians and actors can use their influence to promote responsible behavior among young blacks.
Theory of Change
The concept of collective memory gained massive popularity in the nineteenth century and it is relevant to this study. Toldson and Toldson (2001) define it as a shared pool of knowledge, memory, and information of a given social group, which is associated with its identity. History of blacks is not in the hands of a few intellectuals. It is in the hands of all blacks who have cared to read about their past. Although it is true that professors who have specialized on African history may have a greater knowledge about this topic, most of the basic African values and practices have passed down from one generation to another and as such, even the semi-illiterates know about them. Practices such as the desire to live in a community setting where people are always willing and committed to supporting one another are common among Africans.
The concept of collective memory means that there is also a collective responsibility of protecting the identity of the blacks within the country. When misconceptions arise that try to portray blacks as violent individuals who have no regard for the rule of law, it is the collective responsibility of the entire population to correct it based on collective memory. They should share the positive things they know about blacks based on their history. It is also their collective responsibility to ensure that the shared knowledge passes over to the younger generation. Artists and musicians have a major role to play in this area because of the influence they have and the ease with which they can pass information.
Blacks have and should continue to use various forms of expression to make political and socio-economic statements in the country. History has proven that there is no goodwill among other races to promote a positive outlook of blacks in this society. The most common and popular stereotypes that whites have propagated against blacks are negative. They emphasize the wrong belief that blacks are genetically weaker than whites are. Historical records and current events have proven that if offered the same platforms, Blacks have the same capacity as whites. Blacks have a responsibility to define their own history and identity in the society by popularizing positive aspects of their origin and some of the beliefs and practices they have held for centuries.
Black visual arts offer a perfect opportunity for them to redefine the narrative of their identity. Some of the most respected artists in the world such as Leonardo da Vinci were painters (Doy, 2000). It is important to note that Africans did some of the best paintings in museums today several decades ago, such as the one shown in figure 5.1 below. If the global society believes that Leonardo played a major role in defining modern civilization through his work of art, then it would be unfair to ignore the role that these African painters had in defining civilization in their communities. White supremacists may not want to point out such successes, and as such, it is the responsibility of blacks to bring out these facts.
Music lyrics have a major impact in enabling black artists to express their identity in the society. The choice of words that these musicians use matters in terms of the impact that it would have on the audience. Miller (2009) observes that some artists have failed in their nomenclature when writing their music. When one uses abusive and violent language, with lyrics that glorify violence, prostitution, and economic crimes, then these negativities will continue to define blacks in the society. As such, musicians must understand that they have a major role to play in expressing to other members of the society the accurate identity of blacks. Fashion and street codes can also help to understand black history. Doy (2000) explains that African fashion has evolved over the years because of the influence by the western culture. However, some features have remained distinct despite the influence. It is easy to distinguish an African fashion, such as the one shown in figure 5.2 below, from that of the west or Chinese.
As shown in the figure, female dresses have to cover full body, from the neck down to the feet as a sign of respect. Using these facts can help demonstrate the level of decorum that African embrace, which is significantly different from what white supremacists present in their stereotypical sentiments. As shown in the figure below, other than the emphasis on decorum, there is a unique beauty in the black fashion meant for both men and women. They are suitable for blacks, whites, Asians and all the other races, as shown in the figure. Emphasis on African beauty through such fashion shows can help develop a new narrative for Africans. It can change the current negative identity white supremacists who failed to understand specific beliefs and practices common in this society developed, especially during the colonization and slavery periods. The designers of these fashion dresses have a responsibility of passing a powerful message not only to those who wear them but also the public.
Baxter and Marina (2008) argue that from the bodacious style of African tribal chiefs to the ostentatious lyrics of trap music of the modern century, it is easy to present a positive behavior of black people and the way the descendants have inherited the beauty that is endemic to struggle. They have been subject to negativities, but that did not break them down. Victoria and Rovine (2015) believe that the high level of crime in some of the black neighborhoods in the United States was because of a system that denies blacks opportunities while promoting a belief that they can thrive well in the world of crime. In a highly capitalistic society where one can only get the basic needs if they can earn, a significant number of black youths would turn to crime as a solution. However, artists have the opportunity to change the narrative and convince them otherwise. They have the capacity to demonstrate that blacks can also work hard and achieve success despite the existence of numerous obstacles meant to limit their capacity.
The wrong perception that a section of the society has towards blacks can only change through a proper campaign by blacks interested in redefining their identity in the country. They can use music, fashion, and art to express themselves effectively in the political arena and remind the society of the positive contributions that blacks have made towards civilization and socio-economic and political progress in the country. The concept of collective memory discussed in the theoretical section above emphasizes the need for different backs with varying skills and talents to play a role in transforming the currently negative narrative. A constant reminder of the audience of what is positive will help a society where blacks will gain the same respect and admiration as whites.
Changing the current stereotypes about Africans require a united approach of African Americans to promote a new narrative about their identity as discussed on this section of the paper. The following are the discussion questions that emerged from the analysis and discussion above.
- How have blacks used various forms of expressions (art, music, and fashion) to make a political statement?
- What is the capacity of art and music to redefine the identity of blacks in the society?
- What is the capacity of music and arts to present accurate history and identity of blacks in the country?
- How can black musicians and actors use their influence to promote responsible behavior among young blacks?
- What are the similarities and differences in the ways in which visual artists and musicians have expressed themselves in different eras?
- Baxter, V. K, & Marina, P. (2008). Cultural meaning and hip-hop fashion in the African-American male youth subculture of New Orleans. Journal of Youth Studies, 11(2), 93-113.
- Doy, G. (2000). Black visual culture in postmodern Britain: Modernity and postmodernity. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.
- Miller, M. L. (2009). Slaves to fashion: Black dandyism and the styling of black diasporic identity. Durham, UK: Duke University Press.
- Ogbar, J. O. (2019). Black power: Radical politics and African American identity. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press
- Toldson, I. L., & Toldson, I. A. (2001). Biomedical ethics: An African-centered psychological perspective. Journal of Black Psychology, 27(4), 401-423.
- Victoria, L. & Rovine, V. L. (2015). Viewing Africa through fashion. Canadian Journal of African Studies, 6(2), 133-139.
When an individual goes through a traumatizing event, coping with the posttraumatic stress disorder may be a challenging process. Tedeschi and Calhoun (2009) explain that many blacks go through such harrowing experiences in the hands of the police and other members of the society. Some of these individuals turn to drugs to help them cope with the pressure while in some extreme cases an individual may consider homicide as the only way of coming out of their problem. Fahamu Pecou developed the concept of #BLACKMATTERLIVES to help shape a positive narrative about blacks and to help victims of different traumatizing events cope with their situation. In this paper, the researcher seeks to discuss how blacks can use pain to create art and cope with trauma and the relevance of Fahamu’s concept in dealing with the problem.
Managing stress requires a direct assistance from psychotherapists who can help the victim face their fear and overcome it with time. The problem is that the majority of people do not even realize that they are suffering from depression. Those who finally realize that they have this problem turn to drugs as a way of dealing with their conditions. In this section, the researcher seeks to realize the following learning objectives:
- To learn how different people used pain to create art?
- To identify factors that often cause trauma among blacks in the United States;
- To learn how people have used art to cope with trauma, especially in black communities;
- To learn the role of artists in fighting negative forces that cause trauma to blacks in the country;
- To learn how to empower blacks to overcome trauma without considering the use of drugs or committing suicide as the only alternatives they have.
Theory of Change
It is important to understand the posttraumatic growth. According to Frey (1991), the posttraumatic stress disorder can worsen or improve with time depending on various factors. Figure 6.1 below shows the possible stages of growth. As shown in the figure, when a traumatic event occurs, there is a sharp drop in the level of functioning. An individual can then take different paths depending on the support they get and personal commitment. One of the paths is to succumb to the condition, in which case the individual will have extreme posttraumatic stress disorder. Other people will have survival with impairment, which is a less severe form of posttraumatic stress disorder (Berger, 2015). Others would achieve a full recovery where their level of functioning goes back to where they were before the event took place. The individual shall have achieved resilience. A few individuals would end up thriving after the incident instead of having posttraumatic stress disorder. Their level of functioning gets higher than it was before the occurrence of the traumatizing event. Bloom (2011) defines the highest level as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Instead of having a worse condition, they end up thriving under the new environment.
According to Sounes (2013), it is unfortunate that the majority of blacks end up succumbing to the condition as time passes because the socio-economic and political systems in the country. For instance, when the traumatic event leaves an individual physically impaired, they may find it difficult providing for themselves and their family. The situation is worse when one is a black. The feeling of being worthless sets in and one tries to find consolation in substance abuse to numb both the physical and emotional pain. Such individuals sometimes end up taking their own lives when they realize that there is no bring future to give them hope.
It is important to explore various types of trauma and the art that manifest from traumatic experiences. One of the common types of trauma is bullying (Bloom, 2011). It is common in learning institutions, especially in institutions where blacks have to mingle with whites. The bullies would constantly remind them of their racial inferiority and subject them to dehumanizing experiences. Artists can help deal with this traumatic experience by bringing out the beauty of being a black in their paintings and other artworks. Community violence is another common problem. Sounes (2013) explains that community violence occurs when an individual becomes a subject of violence from members of a different community. The Ku Klux Klan would often brutally attack blacks as they champion the concept of white supremacy. Performing artists can help the society to define a new narrative that all American citizens are equal despite their skin color, religion, gender, or any other demographical classification.
Major disasters may also leave an individual traumatized. Those who survived the September 11, 2001 terror attack in the United States but witnessed the harrowing deaths of their colleagues received several sessions of psychotherapy to help them deal with their condition (Bloom, 2011). Such horrific events often leave victims sacred of everything in their immediate environment. Artists have composed patriotic songs that emphasize the resilience of Americans and their ability to overcome such heinous attacks. Such songs help the victims feel that they are successful warriors who overcame the attack. Early childhood trauma may also leave a permanent scar on an individual. Such children would require counseling and a change of environment to help them overcome their condition. Intimate partner violence, popularly known as domestic violence, is one of the main sources of trauma in the United States (Sounes, 2013). The constant physical and emotional abuse that one subjects a partner to may have devastating consequences. The problem is that everyone becomes a victim of such a situation, including children who may have nothing to do with the constant fights of the parents. Artists can use their skills to promote compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and openness among partners to help eliminate such events.
Sexual abuse remains one of the most traumatizing occurrences that an individual can go through. According to Baradaran (2017), in the past there was a belief that not only women who suffer from such forms of abuses. However, Baradaran (2017) notes that even men can fall victims of sexual predators. Although statistics show that the majority of victims are still women, it is important to look at both sides of the spectrum. Traumatic grief may also lead to trauma, especially when one is unable to cope with the loss of a loved one. Artists can often express such frustrations in songs to help these victims appreciate their present situation and the need to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past.
Great artists such as Maya Angelou and Fahamu Pecou have been able to translate extremely painful experiences into muse for literary masterpieces. Maya was a great poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, and a singer who used her skills to pass powerful messages about the need for cohesion in the United States. She believed in having a society where race, gender, or religion does not become a factor used to deny others opportunities. Fahamu Pecou is a skilled storyteller and a painter who has decided to use his skills to redefine the black narrative in the United States. His storytelling and artwork focus on fighting violence against blacks in the country. He has been championing for a society where everyone, including law enforcement agencies, understands and appreciates the sanctity of human lives. People should not be quick to use violence as a way of solving problems (Sounes, 2013). Instead, it is advisable to consider alternative means of addressing issues that may cause disharmony.
The use of violence is still a common approach that individuals, criminal groups, terrorists, and government agencies use to achieve specific goals. The problem with the use of violence is that it often leads to posttraumatic stress disorder. The concept of posttraumatic growth discussed in the theoretical section above shows that the majority of people often fail to recover fully from a traumatizing situation. A few would thrive. It all depends on the attention that they get from people in their immediate environment and personal effort. The section has identified various forms of trauma that people often go through. The magnitude of these traumatic situations often defines the ability of an individual to cope with the aftermath. The study shows that artists can use their talents to fight violence and to help victims cope with their situation. Paintings, poems, songs, and acting are some of the popular ways that artists can fight the vice. Maya Angelou and Fahamu Pecou are some of the artists who have made major impacts in fighting the vice in the country.
This study shows that a significant population of Americans suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder caused by violence. It is important to find a way of fighting this vice and to help victims cope with their condition. The following discussion questions were developed:
- What are the factors that often cause trauma among blacks in the United States?
- How do some people use art to cope with trauma, especially in black communities?
- How have different people used pain to create art?
- What is the role of artists in fighting negative forces that cause trauma to blacks in the country?
- How can artists empower blacks to overcome trauma without considering the use of drugs or committing suicide as the only alternatives they have?
- What are the various types of trauma and the art that manifest from traumatic experiences?
- Baradaran, M. (2017). The color of money. Black banks and the racial wealth gap. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Harvard University Press.
- Berger, R. (2015). Stress, trauma, and posttraumatic growth: Social context, environment, and identities. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Bloom, S. L. (2011). Bridging the black hole of trauma: The evolutionary significance of the arts part 2, the arts and evolution ‐ what is art for? Psychology and Politics International, 9(1), 67-82.
- Frey, S. R. (1991). Water from the rock: Black resistance in a revolutionary age. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
- Sounes, H. (2013). Twenty seven: A history of the 27 Club through the lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, And Amy Winehouse. Boston, MA: Persus Books Group.
- Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2009). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, 15(1), 1-18.
All Dat Glitters Aint Goals
Setting clear goals is the first step towards achieving material and immaterial success in life. People tend to work hard, but without a clear understanding of what they need to achieve in life. Others end up following others dream without understanding their motivation or the path they took to achieve their status. They end up feeling frustrated because they did not have a clear goal that they needed to realize through their hard work (Kay, Marcel, & Townsend, 2019). In this paper, the focus is to discuss how individuals can define their purpose in life and identify steps that they can take to achieve the desired goals.
Success depends on the ability of an individual to understand what their purpose is in life and in every activity that they undertake. It is easy for one to lose focus when they lack a clear understanding of their destiny. Wulfert, Block, Ana, Rodriguez, and Colsman (2002) note that many young blacks lack clear purpose in life. They go to school because they do not have an alternative. When they get to college, they enroll in courses that they do not have passion in because they got instruction to do so by parents or family friends. As such, they end up in wrong professions that do not make them happy. Their only motivation to get to work is to pay bills. The following are the learning objectives that the researcher seeks to realize in the study.
- To learn the difference between material and immaterial rewards;
- To learn the value of setting goals in every activity that an individual does;
- To understand the difference between material and immaterial benefits to reaching goals.
Lack of vision is one of the most dangerous factors that affect youths in the modern society. They do not have a purpose in the society and focus on what they consider appealing based on popular culture. They know they want to be rich, to drive big cars and own large mansions, but they lack the knowledge on how to realize these drams (Uche, 2018). Lack of proper parenting is one of the major factors contributing to this problem. Most of these parents take most of their time working, which means that they rarely have time to give their children the proper attention they need. As such, many youths rely on media to learn about life. They get to realize that the only way of being comfortable is to become wealthy. The problem is that in most of the cases, they are not aware of the pain and frustrations that often characterize the process of being rich (Corey, Corey, & Muratori, 2018). Relying on films such as Money Heist, Prison Break, and such other crime-based shows, they learn that they can achieve the level of wealth they desire by getting involved with crime.
Learn the value of goal setting is one of the greatest lessons that teenagers and young adults have, especially the African Americans. Setting a goal starts with understanding what one seeks to achieve. Cayoun (2015) explains that when one knows their destination, it becomes easy to know the right path that they should take to reach it. Setting of goals requires practice and the best place to start practicing is at school. When a student knows how to set academic goals, they will become responsible individuals who can set life goals. When setting goals, Cayoun (2015) says that it is important to know how to set short-term goals and long-term goals. For instance, when one wants to become a medical doctor, they must understand the academic qualifications that they should have to get admission into a medical school.
They can then start working on their grades, focusing specifically on subjects that they have to pass to get the admission. Passing specific subjects becomes the short-term goals that would enable the learner to achieve the long-term goal of becoming a doctor. The student must also understand that as they struggle to pass their exams to get the admission they want, they have to remain responsible citizens. Other forces may exist that may deny the learner the opportunity to become a doctor. For instance, they can excel in their exams and get the academic qualifications set, but when they engage in criminal activities such as handling drugs, robbery, murder, or rape, and then they will end up in prison instead of being in a medical college.
It is also important for teenagers and young adults to understand the difference between material and immaterial benefits to reaching goals. Reaching some goals may have material gratification and others may have emotional gratification, while others may have both. Amusement Park attendants may be the least paying job in the United States, but some find it to be the most satisfying job (Corey, et al., 2018). They get the gratification by putting a smile in the face of children on a daily basis. They become happy when they see others happy.
On the other hand, financiers are some of the best-paid people in the United States (Cayoun, 2015). They rarely have physical interaction with people, but in some cases when they do, it may be a bitter exchange when one has lost all their lifetime investments. One should choose their career wisely. When they want financially rewarding careers because of their financial challenges, then they may have to avoid low-paying jobs with greater emotional gratification. One cannot be happy as an amusement park attendant when they cannot pay their bills. They may have a happy face to ensure that they maintain their jobs, but deep down they will be sad. Similarly, if one does not get motivation from money and only want to ensure that people they interact with are happy, then they should know of the right choice of career.
Storytelling can help one to decide most important goals in life and factors that keep an individual motivated to achieve your goals. Traditional storytellers would focus on topics of success and failure, and the same holds to this day. Listening to the story about Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world can help one to understand the most important goals in life. Knowing the decisions he made and the way he overcame various challenges makes it possible to set personal goals. These goals should help define actions that one should take at different stages of life. The fact that these same goals helped Buffet to become the third richest person in the world will be a strong motivation for an individual to achieve the set goal.
Another person may want to become a successful leader like Nelson Mandela. They need to learn about the story of Mandela. They should know about the challenges that he faced before becoming the leader of South Africa and what he did when he became the president. Unlike many African leaders who wanted Europeans to leave their country soon after independence, President Mandela forgave those who imprisoned him for 27 years and was able to work with them for the benefit of South Africans. The art of forgiveness does not come suddenly. As such, one should practice forgiveness even before becoming a leader.
Having a clear vision and mission in life is important in defining the path that an individual takes right from school to college and later on in their lives. The study shows that the problem that many young people face, especially many blacks who do not have mentors, is that they do not understand what they want to achieve in life. Some people desire to make a positive difference in others’ lives, but they find themselves in careers that can only make them rich. Understanding the difference between material and immaterial gratifications helps in defining the path that one should take towards what makes them happy. The art and science of storytelling is essential in guiding youths to set goals and remain motivated towards achieving them. Stories about some of the most successful investors in the world can be instrumental to those who want to become rich. On the other hand, those who want to transform the world through their compassion and helping others can rely on stories of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Malcolm X. They were not rich, but they left a rich legacy in terms of transforming their society.
The current teenagers and young adults are looking for ways of getting rich quickly and without working hard. They lack vision and rely on works of fiction as presented in popular films where individuals become rich within a short period because of their involvement in crime. There is a need to make them understand the value of setting goals and remaining motivated towards achieving them. The following are activities based on the learning objectives above.
Table 1: A Grid of Personal Goals and Rewards
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Table 1 above outlines personal goals that I intend to realize and rewards associated with each. I have prioritized these goals from the most important to the least in the alphabetical order. It is important to understand that all of them are important, but personal happiness is supreme because it may affect the other three directly.
- Cayoun, B. (2015). Mindfulness-integrated CBT for well-being and personal growth: Four steps to enhance inner calm, self confidence and relationships. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
- Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Muratori, M. C. (2018). I never knew I had a choice: Explorations in personal growth. Melbourne: Australia: Cengage Learning.
- Kay, S. M., Marcel , H., Townsend, M. S. (2019). An innovative approach to goal setting for adolescents: Guided goal setting. American Psychological Association, 202(1), 1-12.
- Uche, U. (2018). Why your teen struggles with motivation: Helping your teen become more motivated. Psychology Today. Web.
- Wulfert, E., Block, J. A., Ana, E. S., Rodriguez, M. L., & Colsman, M. (2002). Delay of gratification: Impulsive choices and problem behaviors in early and late adolescence. Journal of Personality, 70(4), 533-552.
Of Crowns and Kings
The way in which one views self-defines their personality and the way they interact with others. According to Ekinci and Riley (2003), the approach that a person takes to define self may take three angles. There is the image that represents how one sees self, there is the image that represents how an individual think others see them, and there is the image of what one wants to become. Understanding motivations behind the image that one creates is important in developing a positive self-image. In this section of the paper, the paper will look at how an individual can use intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to develop a positive self-image.
Understanding the value of personal aesthetic is important in enabling an individual to define their self-worth. The problem is that sometimes an individual may fail to understand how internal factors define their personality. Piacentini and Mailer (2006) explain that the image that one creates of self largely defines how people view them. An individual who has self-respect will respect others and in turn will earn respect from peers. Such a person will avoid anything that may affect their image negatively. In the process, they create a public image in the society that people admire. The following are the learning objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve in this section of the paper:
To learn the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to look and dress a certain way.
Everyone is responsible for his or her own destiny and it all starts with personal belief about self. High performance individual has one characteristic in common, which is that they believe in themselves. They believe that they can perform better than an average person can and they are willing to do something about it. They work hard to understand their strengths and weaknesses and are committed to overcome these weaknesses using their strength. On the other side of the spectrum, the majority of underperformers lack personal faith. They often doubt their capacity to register excellence even in simple tasks. As such, they end up committing mistakes in these simple tasks because they have internalized the belief that they are underperformers. The more they register such poor performances; people around them continue to remind them of their incapability. The vicious cycle where their poor performance reinforces the perception of low self-worth, which then further affects their performance cannot be broken unless an individual decides to take a different approach to life. According to Kima and Sundar (2012), sometimes it may require others around to remind an individual that they are not as worthless as they have come to believe.
It is important to learn the value of your personal aesthetic. Redgrave and Barto (2015) observe that what others say or do does not matter much in defining how successful a person becomes in the society. Madam C. J. Walker best demonstrates the power of valuing personal aesthetics. Born in 1867, Walker grew up in a society where all odds were against her (Mallan & Pearce, 2003). Being an African American, she was a second-class citizen in the country with limited opportunities. The fact that she was a woman only worsened the situation. At that time, women could not vote because there was a general perception that women lacked the capacity to make critical decisions.
Allowing them to vote was unadvisable because they could not understand complex political affairs, as the society had come to believe. She was from a lower middle-class family, which meant that the most that the society expected of her was to get married to an average African American. However, she believed in her personal value. She knew that she could change the world and set out to achieve that goal. By the time she passed on in 1919, she had become the first black female millionaire and the wealthiest self-made female businessperson (Kinley, 2015). Although the society taught her that she was of limited self-worth, she chose to believe otherwise. She chose to press on and achieve what others previously considered impossible. Her success was because of to her belief about personal value. The strong intrinsic motivation could not allow her to listen to the negative perception in the society. She never gave up and in return, she became one of the most successful businesspersons in the American society at that time.
One should understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. According to Redgrave and Barto (2015), intrinsic motivation is a situation where one has the drive to do something because they have a feeling of personal reward. Their action does not depend on external forces but the internal drive to achieve something great. Martin Luther King had reached a level of success where he could mingle easily with the United States president and other top politicians and businesspersons (Kinley, 2015). However, that did not give him the satisfaction to stop fighting for what he believed was right. The internal drive meant that even if the ruling class could bribe him, he could not stop fighting for the rights of African Americans and all oppressed Americans. He ended up paying the ultimate price in the hands of assassins. Drug addicts also have such intrinsic motivation when they want to be high. They are aware of the health and legal consequences of their actions, but the inner power compels them to do go against all odds to get what they desire.
Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is a situation where one does something because of the associated reward. Many people go to work every morning not because they like working but because they need the associated reward. They want the salary so that they can pay their bills. A child will avoid stealing money from the parent because of the fear of punishment. In intrinsic motivation, the desire to get a reward or to avoid pain defines one’s action. The desire to look and dress a certain way is an example of an intrinsic motivated action. People dress well because of the desire to get respect and admiration from others. Redgrave and Barto (2015) explain that sometimes how one looks has a relationship with their art. The physical image that one presents reflects one’s beliefs. Designers who believe that African fashion has a strong message to pass about black empowerment have played a major role in organizing fashion events that present and promote this fashion. Others who do not believe in African fashion are actively promoting western fashion (Kinley, 2015). Both intrinsic and extrinsic forces have immense influence in the decision that people make.
The ability of an individual to tell a story about how they look and why they look the way they do depends on intrinsic motivation. It requires an individual to understand who they are and believe in themselves. Such people will easily ignore what others say and focus on what they believe to be their real identity. Malcolm X did not fear telling his story as an African who had suffered in the hands of American system that favors whites (Redgrave & Barto, 2015). He would remind blacks to rethink their identity in the United States and avoid self-hate. He believed that there was nothing wrong with being a black, just as it was okay to be a white. The problem is that whites had embraced their skin color while blacks found it difficult to be comfortable in their own skin. Some felt that their blackness emphasized their inferiority in a society where white supremacists would easily remind them of their unfavorable status in the society. The extrinsic force such as the motivation that a black person may get from fellow blacks may influence the capacity to tell own story. However, the intrinsic force gives a stronger conviction. It offers an individual a strong drive to ignore other forces as they focus on what they believe.
Defining one’s self-worth depends on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic force is the inner drive that one has based on personal convictions. Intrinsic driven individuals do not need to be encouraged by others to do what they believe should be done. Like a drug addict craving to be high, such individuals will not fear to express themselves to the society even if they may face ridicule. They believe that the only way that people can understand them is when they give an accurate representation about who they are. On the other hand, those who rely on extrinsic force have the desire to get a reward or to avoid a potential punishment. The problem with such individuals is that they will always say what they believe their audience or those responsible for issuing reward/punishment want to hear. As such, they can give a wrong representation about themselves just to get the reward or to avoid punishment. Irrespective of the source of motivation, one needs to redefine self in the society to fight off negative representation based on misleading stereotypes.
The study shows that the ability of one to define self depends on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Although both forces are strong in influencing the behavior of individual, intrinsic forces tend to cause stronger convictions and they bring the true character of a person. The following is the activities relating to the learning objectives above:
I believe I am a high performance individual in the society. My successes will help me achieve personal goals. I believe people also believe that I am successful based on what they say and how my performance compares with that of my peers. I want to become a financially successful person who can help the poor overcome their problems.
- Ekinci, Y., & Riley, M. (2003). An investigation of self-concept: Actual and ideal self-congruence compared in the context of service evaluation. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 10(4), 201-214.
- Kima, Y., & Sundar, S. S. (2012).Visualizing ideal self vs. actual self through avatars: Impact on preventive health outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(4), 1356-1364.
- Kinley, N. (2015). Changing employee behavior. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Mallan, K., & Pearce, S. (2003). Youth cultures: Texts, images, and identities. Westport, CT: Praeger.
- Piacentini, M., & Mailer, G. (2006). Symbolic consumption in teenagers’ clothing choices. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 3(3), 251-262.
- Redgrave, P., & Barto, A. (2015). Intrinsic motivations and open-ended development in animals, humans, and robots. Lausanne, Switzerland: Frontiers Media SA.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Blings, Imagining New Worlds
The ability of one to make positive progress in life depends on their imaginative power. According to Timothy (2018), people often face both physical and mental barriers as they progress towards a specific goal. Success of an individual in life depends on their ability to understand these barriers, their specific sources, how they affect one’s progress, and steps that can help overcome them. Remaining positive and freeing, the mind of any mental barriers is critical. In this section, the focus is to discuss the power of imagination and the physical and mental barriers that may limit the ability of one to achieve the desired level of success.
The progress that one makes in life depends on personal effort and external forces that an individual faces in life. According to Flanagan (2018), an individual may find it challenging to achieve personal goals because of physical barriers that they face. It may be the because of the disability that limits their movement or the ability to take specific actions. In other cases, the problem is a mental barrier. When one embraces the thought that they cannot do something, then they create a strong barrier towards achieving specific goals. The following are the specific learning objectives that the researcher has to achieve in this study:
- To learn the difference between physical and mental barriers to movement and progress;
- To identify the potential sources of mental barriers, their effect on one’s ability to achieve success, and how they can be overcome;
- To discuss various sources of physical restrictions and how they influence one’s creative energy;
- To use storytelling to describe how to use imagination to expand one’s experiences and shape one’s destiny.
The power of imagination is a concept that researchers and inventors have emphasized on for decades. According to Schlosberg (2019), some of the best inventions that human beings have made were because of imagination. These great inventors had dreams of unique ways of solving problems that people have. Theirs did not stop with the dream. They were willing to put them to tests. They would fail several times in their attempt to transform the idea into something meaningful, but they never gave up. Some died trying to realize their dreams while others finally managed to develop their ideas into concepts and products widely used in the modern society. Timothy (2018) believes that the worst thing that one can do is to cage the idea and fail to transform it into something meaningful. One of the common traits that most of the high-performance individuals and successful businesspersons share is that they are highly imaginative. They can create their desired future in their mind, develop a pattern of thoughts on how they want to achieve these goals, and make deliberate steps towards realizing these goals.
Flanagan (2018) defines worldview as the way an individual sees the world around them. It defines our perception towards the world and towards people around us. It is important to understand the difference between a narrow and expanded worldview. Having a narrow worldview is a situation where one is limited in thoughts (Joseph, 2015). Such an individual lacks the capacity to think beyond their limited social confines. For instance, some people take specific actions because that is what their religion has taught them. Muslims believe that all non-Muslims are infidels and they do not deserve to live. As such, they believe that killing a non-Muslim is not a sin before their god.
It explains why it has been easy for terror groups such as ISIS has been able to recruit young men and women in developed nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States (Schlosberg, 2019). They target youths indoctrinated into a religion that limits their ability to think. They fail to understand the fact that in the global society other religious groups exist, and if everyone were to embrace such radical views, then there would be no humanity. Narrow worldview limits one’s ability to be tolerant and to embrace unity in a society where diversity is a common place. When the ability of an individual to think is caged, they fail to reason effectively and cannot be creative enough.
Expanded worldview is a deliberate attempt by an individual to go beyond stereotypical beliefs in the society to understand real issues that face real people in the society. An individual with an expanded worldview will not embrace a narrow perception that blacks are always criminal minded because some blacks have demonstrated that they have a unique capacity to change the world, while some of the worst criminals in American society were whites (Joseph, 2015). Such a liberated mind appreciates the fact that every human being is unique and the ability of an individual to become a good or bad person depends on various internal and external factors. Having an expanded worldview makes it possible for one to embrace and promote harmony in the society. It becomes possible for them to go beyond negative views of a section of the society to embrace positivity.
Understanding the various sources of physical and mental restrictions, and how that influences our creative energy can be a major step towards having a society with people who have liberated minds. One of the main sources of physical restrictions is disability. An individual may lack the ability to take specific actions because of the inabilities that they have. A physical restriction may also be because of a deliberate attempt by another person or a group of people to force an individual to act in a given way. Some people have been forced to act in a way that is contrary to their beliefs because of the fear of physical injury they may face if they acted contrary to the instructions they were given. Balk and Shields (2015) observe that various factors may cause mental restriction. One of them is indoctrination.
When an individual believes in the teachings of a cult-like organization that want them to behave in a given manner, then they may ignore fundamental principles in the society. Some cultic religious groups often waive the right for their congregants to reason independently. Such people have to rely on their religious leaders to define for them what is right or wrong. They can make absurd actions primarily because they have received instructions to do so by their leaders. Joseph (2015) observes that stereotyping is another major source of mental restrictions. It is unfortunate that some people actually believe in some of the negative generalization about a section of the society. It explains why a white police officer would not hesitate to shoot a black suspect when trying to make an arrest. They have come to believe that blacks are always violent and can use their weapons against the police. As such, their quick decision to use their weapon is because of the fear of the harm that they may get if the black suspect acts violently.
A narrow worldview often limits one’s creative energy. The rigid mindset limits the ability of an individual to understand broad challenges that people in different parts of the world face. Bill Gates, the second richest person in the world, stays in one of the most expensive and complex mansions in the United States. However, that did not limit him from understanding challenges that some Africans staying in the worst slums in the world face (Balk & Shields, 2015). He and his team came up with strategies of managing human wastes in these African slums because his thinking is not limited to problems of the rich. Through storytelling, one can use their imagination to expand their experiences and shape your destiny. Storytelling eliminates all the barriers that one may face in the real world. One has a unique opportunity to create new characters and a world that they consider ideal, a world of harmony and fulfillment.
The power of imagination is strong and has made it possible for inventors to come up with unique ideas of making the world a better place, as Joseph (2015) observes. However, it is unfortunate that some people allow both physical and mental barriers to limit their creative power. They embrace a narrow worldview where they see the world from the lenses of stereotypes and misconceptions that they get from white supremacists. High performance individuals choose to think differently and independent of views and perceptions of others. They want to understand why certain people behave in a certain way. The study shows that storytelling can help eliminate these mental barriers. One gets an opportunity to create an ideal world where common stereotypes do not hold any value. However, such levels of imagination also require an individual to have an independent mind free of negativity towards a section of the society.
The study shows that the power of imaginative is a strong force that can transform the society. It is important for individuals to avoid the narrow worldview that limits their ability to understand challenges that other members of the society face. The following is the activity that connects with the learning objectives:
The story of Bill Gates and his willingness to help the poor in Africa tells of his desire to create happiness to humanity. As an American white, Gates may not have a lot of interest in Africa. However, he has defied negativities associated with racial, religious, or any other demographic differences to help solve a problem he believes affect the poor.
- Joseph, S. (2015). Positive psychology in practice: Promoting human flourishing in work, health, education, and everyday life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
- Balk, M., & Shields, A. (2015). Master the Art of Running: Raising Your Performance with the Alexander Technique. New York, NY: Pavilion Books.
- Flanagan, L. (2018). 8 ways to help older kids develop a sense of imagination. KQED News. Web.
- Timothy, R. K. (2018). Racism impacts your health. The Conversation. Web.
- Schlosberg, J. (2019). 10 easy ways to fire your child’s imagination. Parenting.
Hard2death – Pursuit of Happiness
Happiness is important in improving the quality of life and eliminating various medical conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke, which are often associated with stress. However, in a high-paced society where some people are struggling to meet basic needs while others are keen on amassing sums of wealth, it may not be easy to be happy. So many things that people face often have the effect of making them sad and frustrated at people and things that they interact with regularly. In this section of the assignment, the focus is to discuss internal and external sources of happiness and the way people can be happy despite the hard realities that they face.
People pursue happiness in different ways. Others believe that financial wealth may give them the happiness they desire, while others believe having an expanded social circle is the best way of being happy. Others derive their happiness from within while others get it from their engagement with other people. Majors and Billson (1992) explain that a recent statistic showed that over 70% of Americans are not happy with their work. They go to work daily because they have to pay their bills, not because they enjoy doing so. The following are the learning objectives that the researcher seeks to realize:
- To learn the difference between internal and external sources of happiness;
- To determine if it is possible to be tough and be happy at the same time;
- To learn the different factors that make people happy and others that may make them sad or angry.
According to a report by Kahneman, Kahneman, Diener, and Schwarz (2003), Finland, Denmark, and Norway have the happiest people in the world, while South Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Tanzania have the least happy citizens. An analysis of their report shows that countries that recorded highest percentage of happy people are developed nations with high standards of living. On the other side of the spectrum, we have poverty-ridden countries of Africa recording the worst performance in terms of the number of people who state that they are happy. The study indicated that happiness has a close relationship with external forces within the society. However, Stokes (2019) warns that having a lot of money may not necessarily translate to happiness. Some of the wealthiest people are under constant pressure to meet specific goals and to protect their wealth that they cannot be happy. Majors and Billson (1992) believe that the society needs to understand the value of being happy. Medical researchers have demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of happiness. Individuals who commit mass murders or other forms of murder are not happy. Those who commit suicide do so because of they are not happy. As such, it is worth investing in one’s happiness and the happiness of those around them.
It is necessary to learn the different things that make people happy and things that make people angry. According to Krame (2014), success is one of the things that often make people happy. When an individual sets out to do something and they succeed, they would be happy about it. The endeavor may be academic success that would create happiness to both the student and parents because it is an indication of a bright future. Others may register excellence in business. The financial success would make an individual happy because there is the guarantee that meeting financial obligations would not be a problem anymore (Kahneman et al., 2003). The way a society views an individual may be another source of happiness. Many rich people like Bill Gates are involved in philanthropy partly because they care about what people say about them. They want to convince the world that they are keen on sharing their wealth with the less fortunate members of the society. The gratitude that they get from the beneficiaries makes them happy. They feel that they are being of great benefit to humanity. It is unfortunate that some people derive happiness by seeing others suffer. Such sadist individuals believe that when those that they hate suffer.
According to Stokes (2019), there is the internal happiness that one gets, and do not have anything to do with what others think. Internal happiness often comes from self-gratification, a situation where someone is happy with self. Different factors make different people happy. Krame, (2014) says that some people are happy when they can help others overcome their tough condition. It is important to understand the difference between those who help and want the world to know they do so and those who help without letting anyone to see. Those who ensure that the world is aware of their charitable actions derive happiness from what others say about them, which is an external gratification. However, those who help anonymously get internal satisfaction by seeing those in need getting the help they deserve.
Various external and internal factors may also cause sadness in an individual. Failure is one of the main factors known to make people sad, as Stokes (2019) observe. It creates the perception that one is weak and incapable of meeting basic requirements at something. A parent will be sad when their children fail in their academics because it may be a pointer to a grim future. To the failing child, there is the internal sadness because of the feeling that they are underperformers. Physical pain may be a source of sadness. Those in hospital would be sad because of the pain they go through and the fact that they cannot engage in normal activities in their lives. Some undesirable characters in the society would get sad because of the success of others.
Stokes (2019) focused on explaining whether it is possible to be hard or tough, and be happy at the same time. The study shows that the majority of those who are tough are often less happy compared with others who are soft and with limited expectation of others. Tough leaders set tough goals that their followers find difficult to achieve. When they set such goals, they have to be strict in ensuring that there is success (Krame, 2014). It means that they cannot afford to make fun with the followers or engage in various fun activities that may compromise their authority until the workers achieve the set goals. Despite these beliefs, it is possible for a person to be happy and at the same time be tough. Being tough does not mean being harsh in the workplace. It does not mean antagonizing others. It means setting specific principles and remaining loyal to them at all the times. One can set tough goals and remain happy as he helps followers accomplish these goals. Transformational leadership encourages the need to make other discover their inner potential.
Understand the difference between internal and external sources of happiness and the connection between one’s personal values and satisfaction with life is important (Stokes (2019). One should understand factors in the external environment that makes them sad, and those that make them happy. To lead a happy life, they would need to avoid what makes them sad and focus on what creates joy to them. It is advisable for people to know the connection between personal values and satisfaction with life. When an individual sets personal values, there is always the desire to ensure that they remain loyal to them. However, some values may be detrimental to one’s happiness and satisfaction with life.
When one decides to be a criminal, they have to set specific values that would allow them to engage in the criminal activity (Majors & Billson, 1992). The problem is that when setting those principles, they have to go against societal values. Murder is one of the most loathed criminal acts that one can commit. However, a criminal must set personal standards that allow them to commit the crime when necessary. Such an individual may achieve success in their criminal endeavors, but their success may have the opposite effect on their happiness and quality of life. Even when they get away with their crime, their conscience would not give them peace of mind. The thought of how others suffered or are suffering in their hands will give them nightmares. They will always be under stress and troubled with the constant thought of a possible arrest.
Happiness defines one’s quality of life. However, the ability of one to be happy depends on both internal and external factors. Actions that a person takes directly influence their happiness. Those who choose to engage in criminal acts or those who choose hatred based on racial prejudice may find it difficult to be happy. They will spend most of their time trying to hurt others, and in the process, they may get hurt. They may be hurt when they fail to achieve their selfish goals. In other cases, they may get physically hurt when their targets choose to fight back.
Steve Jobs was one of the toughest business executives in the American Silicon Valley during his time. He had high expectations of his employees and was strict when it came to delivering value in everything that they did. Some people feared working for him because they felt they could not match his standards. However, he was a vulnerable man in the inside as those who have known him testify.
- Kahneman, D., Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwarz, N. (2003). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
- Krame, K. (2014). Put it in perspective: A teen’s guide to sanity. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse.
- Majors, R., & Billson, J. M. (1992). Cool pose: The dilemma of black manhood in America. New York, NY: Touchstone.
- Stokes, N. (2019). Artifact collective: An attempt to consciousness. Washington, DC: Routledge.
GRAV•I•TY and the People Could Fly
Defying gravity is what an ambitious person should strive to do as they seek to fight stereotypes and various other challenges in the society. Some of the visionary inventors have made it possible for people to fly in literal terms, defying all the laws of nature (Ghose, 2013). It is an indication that where there is a will, the numerous challenges that one may encounter would not matter because there will be a way out. In this section of the paper, the focus is to discuss how people can use their unique skills, talents, and capabilities to overcome forces that limit their ability to be successful.
When one sets goals that they should realize within a specific period, it is important to note that various forces will emerge that may make it impossible to achieve them. The difference between high performers and average people or failures is that the high performers do not give in to these forces. They rarely give up even when they realize that achieving success may be more challenging that they had actually though. They remain committed to their goal and are always willing to do everything within their power to achieve success. The following are the learning objectives for this section of the paper:
- To learn the difference about the ways that people resist forces that try to hold them down;
- To learn about people, systems, and mentalities that can hold down an individual and limit their capacity to achieve success;
- To learn how one can use storytelling and narratives to redefine the ability of people to use their unique abilities to overcome forces that limit their success.
The force of gravity tends to resist the ability of objects to fly. However, birds have learned how to defy this force and as such, they can fly with ease. Planes have also become important means of transport because of their ability to defy gravity. Life is all about struggle and nothing comes easy even among the richest members of the society. They have to fight different forces constantly to ensure that they protect and growth their riches. In case they fail in the fight, then they can face the threat of losing everything they have within a short period. The gravity that a person may face in life varies a lot. The force may be a cultural belief or practice that limits their ability to think independently (Cahill, 2004). Some religious beliefs prohibit their faithful from marrying or freely mingling with those of different faiths. In the current competitive business environment, sometimes it is necessary to mingle with others to succeed.
One firm may need to merge with another to overcome challenges in the market. However, if the faith of the owners of these businesses varies significantly, they may find it difficult working together. In such a case, their religion becomes the gravitational force that pulls them down from achieving the common goal. In some cases, it may be the stereotype against a certain group of people. If one embraces the belief that blacks are always violent then they cannot find it easy working with them. The problem is that both whites and blacks can be violent depending on various factors that define their actions. An overwhelming majority of blacks are peace-loving individuals who value working as a unit towards solving common challenges in the society. When one allows these prejudicial beliefs cloud their memory, then they may not see the good in these people.
One should learn how to use gravity, the force that keep us down, and flight, the ability to defy gravity, as a metaphor, learn how to identify systems, people and mentalities that can hold us down. Sometimes the company that one has may be that force holding them down from achieving their desired goals. Such friends will always criticize one’s plans and remind them of the difficulty they will face trying to achieve these goals. Others will steal from an individual, ruining the investment or saving plans. When one identifies such individuals, the best thing to do is to eliminate them from their lives because they are undesirable forces that limit one’s growth. Systems may be that negative force, such as religion.
When religion limits the ability of an individual to think creatively, then it may be necessary to rethink remaining loyal to it. When religion promotes violence against a section of the society, then one should consider it a gravitational force that limits peaceful coexistence. Sometimes the gravitational force may be an individual’s mentality. Some people tend to have beliefs that weigh them down. In the United States, blacks have gone through a system that reminds them that they are less capable compared with their white counterparts (Corey, 2016). It is unfortunate that some people tend to believe in such negativities. They embrace a new position that white supremacists have created for them and accept that they have limited capabilities. Such a mentality can be the greatest gravitational force to one’s ability to fly. The human mind is a powerful tool with limitless capabilities, depending on the mentality that one embraces.
The Wright brothers believed that it was possible for human beings to defy gravity, just as birds were doing it. As such, they decided to use their mental strength to come up with the concept of a plane that could travel in the air and carry passengers. The lighting system, the modern communication system, and many other technological concepts critical in the modern society came to being because of people who realized that their mind had limitless capabilities. They tried and failed several times, but that did not stop them from making further steps towards what they believed would transform the world. They realized that the biggest limitation they could face was their inability to imagine what they needed to create. As Rupp (2016) observes, as long as one can imagine it, it is possible to make positive steps towards making it a reality.
It is possible to describe human ability to resist gravity by raising, throwing, jumping, thinking, and inventing new realities using storytelling and narratives. The story of Daedalus and his son Icarus who escaped from prison using wings they constructed from birds’ feathers is a good example. Daedalus was a skilled artist. His powerful imaginative mind could not allow him to rot in prison alongside his son. As such, he decided to gather birds’ feathers, develop wings, and use them to escape from prison. They did manage to escape from the prison. Unfortunately, the son did not follow his father’s instructions and he fell from the sky, but the Daedalus, the creator of the idea and the developer of the wings, was able to fly to safety. Such stories demonstrate the power of the mind to help overcome forces in the society. As Rupp (2016) observes, the worst captivity that one can be in is that of the mind. When the mind is in captivity, then one cannot do much to achieve success.
It is normal for a person to face resistance as they try to achieve specific goals in their lives. The forces of gravity that limit the ability of a person to fly can only remain powerful if one fails to develop strong mental strength against them. Narratives exist of people who used their unique skills to achieve their goals, otherwise thought to be impossible to accomplish. Modern-day technology in various sectors of the economy defies these forces. As such, one should train the mind to overcome numerous challenges that may stop them from achieving their goals.
Colonel Sanders is an example of a person who was able to overcome gravity, and jump to heights that many did not believe he could at his age. Colonel Sanders was not successful in his younger years. He moved from one low-paying job to another. He was always reminded that he was a low-performance individual with limited capacity to achieve success. However, at a time when his age mates were planning their retirement, he discovered himself and started Kentucky Fried Chicken that turned him from a peasant to a millionaire within a short period. He finally succeeded in overcoming the forces that were against him.
- Cahill, C. (2004). Defying gravity? Raising consciousness through collective research. Journal of Children’s Geographies, 2(2), 273-286.
- Corey, M. S. (2016). I never knew I had a choice: Explorations in personal growth. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
- Ghose, T. (2013). What is gravity? Live Science. Web.
- Rupp, J. (2016). Little pieces of light: Darkness and personal growth. New York, NY: Paulist Press.
Vantage Point – Conclusion
The project has identified various approaches that blacks and the general American population can succeed despite the numerous challenges they face in life. It is better for one to choose happiness at all times despite issues that may arise that may cause resentment and the desire to revenge (Ortiz, 2018). The study shows that it is important for one to identify factors that may limit their capacity to reach the level of success that they feel they deserve. This section provides a summary of impression and expression of cultural storytelling among young scholars and approaches that people should take to lead successful lives.
Blacks have faced numerous challenges in the society that limit their ability to reach the highest level of excellence that they would desire in the society. The study shows that some visionary blacks decided to overcome these challenges and attained levels of success that many did not imagine. Others decided to lead a life of crime and hopelessness because they believe in the narrative that white supremacists give to them. Everyone faces different challenges in life, but successful people often have the passion to overcome these challenges. The following are the learning objectives for this section of the paper:
Learn how to use the knowledge gained from these sessions develop your own ideas and creative work
The concept of black magic helps to understand the role of blacks in defining modern civilization. In the United States, the long period of slavery and subsequent racism that has lasted for over a century created the perception that blacks are inferior to whites. Berlatsky (2015) observes that many people in the United States and around the world believe that having a white skin is a symbol of superiority. It is unfortunate that some blacks believe that they are inferior to whites. Having such a mentality makes it almost impossible for one to succeed in life. However, historical analysis of black communities, from ancient Africa to the modern society shows that blacks are not as inferior as some people have always argued.
It is necessary for blacks to understand that their rightful position in the society as people with equal rights as others depend on actions that they take. They have to understand the importance of creating their own story or life narrative. They have to focus on achievements of blacks and the role they are playing to make the society a better place for everyone. Music has been an important weapon that black slaves used to get the motivation to press on despite the hardships they faced. In the modern society, musicians have become major influencers of the path that youths take in their lives (DiAngelo, 2018). In West Africa, Fela Kuti used his skills in music to champion for the rights of blacks and to remind the global society that skin color should not be the basis upon which people define self-worth of an individual.
The study shows that the manner in which a person chooses to eat their watermelon defines how others view them. Blacks have the opportunity to create a new superior perception about them in the society. If musicians and actors choose to propagate the black culture as one full of violence and disrespect to the law, then the rest of the society will hold the same view towards them. It means that these people should take the unique opportunity that they have to convince the world that blacks have the same capacity as any other race. Jardina (2019) argues that blacks need to resist violence. They need to avoid the use of brute force against themselves and other members of the society when addressing issues that affect them.
Fashion is another powerful tool that has emerged in the quest to redefine the identity of Africans. The long beautiful dresses that cover most parts of a woman’s body is a sign of respect and morality that African women had. Promoting the African culture in the country may help combat the wrong perception that the majority of whites have of black women being immoral. The visual art has the capacity of passing a powerful message to members of the society about values and beliefs of Africans. They will understand the fact that blacks are peace-loving people who understand the meaning and importance of dialogue over violence when solving differences and disagreements in the society.
It is likely that blacks will face trauma at different stages of their lives primarily because of their skin color. Understanding how to cope with such trauma is critical. Artists like Maya Angelou learned how to use their pain and suffering to compose songs and develop pieces of art. Instead of venting their anger and frustration against others in a violent way, they decided to harness it and bring it out in the form of art. Such literary masterpieces tend to reduce violence in the society. They help people to learn how to love at times when it is easier to hate. They enable blacks to change the narrative that white supremacists created for them by choosing peace and unity over violence.
Setting goals in life is important because they help to define where a person should be after a given period and steps they need to take to achieve such goals. The drive that a person has to achieve the set goals is to get specific rewards. Some rewards are materialistic such as wealth while others are immaterial such as fame and internal gratification. Having these rewards keeps a person motivated. They remain focused on achieving the specific goals despite challenges they may face. Berlatsky (2015) explains that the process of achieving specific goals may be so painful that one can easily give up. As such, the reward should be strong enough to provide the motivation that an individual would need to press on despite the pain and suffering that may come along the way.
The study emphasizes the need for an individual to understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. An individual with intrinsic motivation will act in a given manner because they are self-motivated and strive to achieve something that is personally rewarding. Warren Buffet has been working hard as an investor because his success gives him a personal reward in terms of increased wealth. Individuals with intrinsic motivation do not need a reminder for them to act in a given way. They know what they need to do and will always focus on doing them at all times. On the other hand, those with extrinsic motivation act in a given way to avoid punishment or to get something from others. They will want to be seen acting in a given way to ensure that they justify having a specific reward.
The study also focuses on the power of imagination. When one has the capacity to create something in their mind, then they can work consistently towards realizing their goals. Successful inventors started their creation through imagination. People close to them might not have trusted them, but they never gave up. Their mental strength was able to overcome numerous negativities and the thought that they could not make it. Jardina (2019) warns against having a narrow worldview. When one cannot think creatively, it makes it impossible for them to appreciate the power of creativity. Bill Gates’ creativity is not limited to Microsoft. He has expanded his thoughts as he seeks to address other social problems. He worked with a team of experts to develop a sewer system that is instrumental in managing human wastes in many African slums.
The pursuit of happiness often makes some people to act in ways that others may consider absurd. Those who derive their happiness from external sources would want to be close to their loved ones to share their joy and would avoid actions that may affect their relationships. Those who derive their happiness from internal sources do not need others to validate their joy. They will be happy with their success and steps that they have made in life. Their actions will not focus on their desire to please others but their commitment to personal success. The study has also elaborated the concept of gravity and the way it limits their capacity to fly. Just like the gravitational force, various factors in the society may limit one’s ability to succeed. The gravity may be the constant racial slurs that one has to withstand in the workplace or prejudice that African Americans are always violent and as such, should not be trusted. Another person may face the challenge of limited resources as they strive to start successful businesses. It does not matter what challenges one goes through. Just like birds that defy gravity, people should learn how to overcome these challenges. Consistency, commitment, hard work, and perseverance are some of the factors that can enable one to overcome such challenges.
It is important to work with some of the talented black artists to redefine the African identity. Tyler Perry is in the best position to help redefine the black culture. As a writer, director, producer, comedian, and an actor, he can use his position to redefine how the entire society views blacks.
- Berlatsky, N. (2015). Wonder woman: Bondage and feminism in the Marston/peter comics, 1941-1948. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
- DiAngelo, R. J. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for White people to talk about racism. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
- Jardina, A. (2019). White identity politics. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
- Ortiz, P. (2018). An African American and Latinx history of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.