I am back in Atlanta, and at the writing of this letter, I am on the beautiful campus of Morehouse College — the alma mater of the late and great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Down through the years, I have noticed that one of the marks of a “Morehouse man” is confidence. And that is what I want to write to you about today.
I hope that you are not one of the many young men in our community who feels inferior and shows that he feels inferior to other races — particularly the white race. It is disturbing to see so many young black men catch this disease called an inferiority complex when it comes to other races. It is almost as though this disease is in the air in the black community.
What are some of the ways that we catch this awful disease? Well, one way to get this disease is by not being raised right. Often times, if a parent does not know how to love and nurture a child while he is young, especially black boys, that child will grow up out of balance mentally, therefore feeling inferior. I am one of those who believe that young black children need lots of love, nurturing, and encouragement to turn out right in this strange society that we live in, especially black boys. It is crucial.
I believe the second reason why young black men feel inferior to others is because they have become addicted to that one eyed monster – the television set. I am convinced through my own observation of children that those children who grow up with a heavy diet of television watching will often times end up with feelings of inferiority. This happens simply because they are constantly watching others on the tube doing things and who are progressing and moving forward with their lives while they just watch. Of course, most of the people we see on television are white, and certainly most of the people we see in positive roles on television are white. This constant bombardment on our young black boys is destructive. One of the reasons why I don’t let my children watch television is because I don’t want them to think that white people are the standard of beauty and I don’t want them to think that white is always right.
In consequence of this heavy dose of television watching, they never develop a pattern of progress and success for their own lives, thus making their lives feel and appear inferior. The more you conquer, succeed, and prosper, the more competent and confident you will become.
A third reason for this feeling of inferiority among young black men is because many do not pursue more knowledge. I didn’t say education. Unfortunately, knowledge and education are not necessarily the same in our society. Be that as it may, the more knowledge that you have, the more confidence you will have. It is trite, but true – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER — and, may I say, huge power. Knowledge puts a smile on your face and a pep in your step that is unmistakable. Now when I speak of knowledge and confidence, I don’t speak of this haughty, snobbish and proud attitude that can come with knowledge. For Saint Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 8:1: “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” No, I am speaking of the humble gaining of bold, loving, and biblical confidence.
No matter where we come from, what side of the tracks we live on, how rich or poor, we as young black men can and must have the confidence and boldness to accomplish great things that God designed for us to do.
Out of all of the billions of folks who have been born into this world, there is no one like you; and there is no one who can do what you can do.
No one is better than you. You are just as good as anyone else,
P.T.: Arthur Ashe said, “I did not equate my self-worth with my wins and losses.”
Mark Mathabane said, “The most important thing I have to fight as a black person in an oppressive, racist society is what I think about myself.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “With a spirit straining toward true self-esteem, the Negro must boldly throw off the manacles of self-abnegation and say to himself and the world: ‘I am somebody. I am a person. I am a man with dignity and honor. I have a rich and noble history.’”
John Singleton said, “If you respect yourself, it’s easier to respect other people.”
Max Robinson said, “I think one of my basic flaws has been a lack of self-esteem…always feeling like I had to do more. I never could do enough or be good enough.”