Wouldn’t it be helpful if some of our African American fellow citizens, who have risen to positions of power and influence, would share with all of us some of their experiences in the struggle to become who they are?
I am sure many such individuals have already done so in one way or another, say in the writing of their biographies, but what occurred to me might be useful would be to compile parts of those experiences in a small book that could be carried in one’s side or back pocket.
Every African American citizen would be entitled to one such book, or its digital version, free of charge, courtesy of philanthropic foundations willing to shoulder the cost. The rest of us could simply buy it.
What did Oprah go through in her path to her accomplishments?
What about Obama?
What did Condoleezza Rice or Susan Rice have to battle?
When faced with difficult circumstances, what or whom did they turn to, inside or out, to find the strength to endure and overcome?
Though still underrepresented in many fields of endeavor, there are many African Americans who have managed to push through and beat the odds.
When each person had their backs against the wall, when they felt overwhelmed by circumstances, what restored their energies, what fueled their resolve?
What words did they find inspiring? What people?
What stirred their grit?
Short examples of such struggles may well keep someone who is doubting themselves and about to give up, to hang on instead and return to try again.
In my living room I keep a book of quotations from men and women who have managed to distinguish themselves. Frequently, I read or reread them. It helps.
There is so much to draw from. So much.
There could be subsequent editions of one such book, filled with other people’s experiences.
But wouldn’t it be useful if every African American living in our nation today, when doubting their right to be all they can be, could reach into their back or side pocket, or their phone, and find inspiration to fight on, to not lose hope, to remind themselves that they count, that they have dignity, that they have something to contribute, that they are needed in our nation’s struggle.
Of course, major changes are required to address existing educational, housing and health care deficits, but small steps count too.
The Black Book of Affirmations might be one such step.
Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.