How To Love Ourselves When Others Don’t Love Us [OPINION]

Black hands in the shape of a heart

 

The last several weeks have been unsettling to say the least. Whatever your belief: #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter or all the above, the recent debates over the value of one’s life based on the color of their skin will eat away at your spirit.

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“Growing up White,” as many people have “joked” with me over the years, I was raised by an all Caucasian family of nine brothers and sisters, with the exception of another adopted child (East Indian and Black). Despite the severe blow back my parents received for adopting “colored children”; or, the instance my older brother took me to the playground as a toddler only to return in tears after his “friends” condemned him for having a “n*gger” sister; or the label that always seemed to follow me around – she’s either “too Black” or “too White” to be down – I was taught not to see color.

Only, in today’s society, no matter how you were raised (to love or hate our melanin) our God given sun-kissed skin tone seems to slap us in the face like a plethora of icicles on a cold Chicago winter’s day. Now, as the mother of two bright and beautiful Black girls, I see them facing similar challenges. Where do I fit in?

So how does one love themselves when others don’t love us?

First and foremost, do not succumb to “self-hate.” While some may feel like their milky complexion entitles them to a set of advantages and/or immunities on a daily basis, beyond those common to all others, the second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Note, there is no mention of color, sex, social status, pay grade…

By no means “let no man pull you so low as to hate him,” as Martin Luther King Jr. said. Instead, practice forgiveness. While this may sound easier said than done, our Heavenly Father said it best — “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

READ: Black Self Love: The Conversation Is Bigger Than Hair

Yes, He was nailed to a cross as people stood watching and rulers sneered as he took his last breath (for our sins) – the same rule applies. Just as it is not healthy to hold unforgiveness and bitterness in your heart towards yourself, it is not healthy to hold onto distaste for those who continue to wrong you. It will devour your innards, leaving you with nothing but scraps of pain and pestilence. In turn, creating a similar ghost in the darkness.

Be thankful. Not only are you created in God’s image, but his mind and intellect. In other words, be grateful that you have a voice – a vessel to speak life and love to those who shame you. One of my all-time favorite MLK quotes reads, “”Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”

Lesson? In order to love ourselves when it feels as if the world is against us, WE must answer in love, peace and forgiveness. Then and only then, will we be able to heal and create a society that can live with its conscience.