I Like my Odds….Completely Against Me

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(www.youtube.com)

Last week I reluctantly gave in and decided to not watch my favorite character, Cookie, on the hugely popular television series, Empire. I instead watched the 3 part BET mini- series “The Book of Negroes”. The title references a historical document that list the names of  former slaves, many who were Black Loyalist that helped the British in the Revolutionary War, and were willing to relocate to Nova Scotia in promise of better treatment, and more opportunities. It is brought to life by a fictional female character, Aminata Diallo, an African who was kidnapped from the continent and sold into slavery. Because she was able to read and write, Aminata was given the job of writing each name down of those who wanted to leave. In the latter part of her life she was given the opportunity to write her autobiography, which she also titled “The Book of Negroes”.

I’m not typically interested in watching stories like these because rarely is new information presented, or depth shown in the characters. But, this one surprised me. It sheds light on the global dependency of the institution of slavery, which caused many Africans to settle in various countries, not just the United States. It does not conveniently ignore the Africans who contributed to the daily practice of kidnapping other Africans from their village, and selling them into slavery. And, it also reveals the human need to be redeemed from a guilty past that haunts them into their present. Specifically, this is shown with Aminata’s husband, Chekura, who initially helped capture her when they were children, then was sold into slavery himself. As well as one of her owner’s Solomon Lindo, who taught her how to manage his business. However, he also secretly sells her daughter, but by the end of the mini- series gives her freedom, and reunites mother and daughter back together.

What I admired most about Aminata, was despite the amount of unfair tragedy and trauma she faced, she always chose to move forward. Often she had to decide whether it was time to give up or not, try again or not, and believe things could change or not. As hard as her life was, it would be completely understandable if she chose to bow out and accept her fate, but again she would not. Aminata was strong, educated, beautiful and carried these attributes with pride, even though they were thought to in some ways make things harder for her.

After watching, I could not help to make comparisons of what was considered hardship back then versus now. Unlike the 18th century, we do not have laws that enslave people, prevent them from being educated, and progress in life. Yet, we do now have a society that often resents those striving towards success, mocks handwork, having high morals, and those that have a desire to do better than what is in front of them. Not to mention, the rich controls the majority of the wealth, the poor continues to have assistance reduced, and the middle class is increasingly shrinking.

The after effects of slavery and additional enactment of laws that allowed for racism, injustice, and inequality to persevere has given way to many having little regard for their life or anyone else’s, division based on skin color, and an unwillingness to allow the majority to prosper instead of a small percentage. With this in mind, it can be easy to forget how grateful we should be to live in this century, and not be distracted by unfair disparities and policies that plague us. Inspite of it all, like Aminata, we must decide to still pursue our dreams and hold close to our beliefs. For ultimately, regardless of our circumstances, either we are someone that still does what they need to….. or we are not.

Rachel Bryant Lundy

Your Self Worth: A No Haggle Policy

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(blog.dropshipaccess.com)

Don’t you wish there was always someone around to remind us how to conduct ourselves respectfully, and  show people how we should be treated? Well we do, it’s you and I. Embarrassingly, not too long ago, when I found myself in a situation that required me to show I was aware of my self worth I was incapable of doing so. At any given moment, I expected my fairy godmother to magically appear and do it for me. Not to mention, I didn’t understand why I had to do it in the first place. Naively, I assumed because I am a nice person people would always behave appropriately. But, I guess they didn’t get the memo. I also thought expressing my feelings wasn’t always necessary, and would justify the thought by imagining people probably could not relate to how I felt. What I’ve learned is, regardless if people understand you, your feelings always need to be important to yourself. If not, you can safely bet they won’t stand a chance of mattering to anyone else. Acknowledging your value and making others do the same is not reserved for the fearless or entitled, it is simply a practice that should be non- negotiable for everyone.

If you are reluctant to accept it’s significance like I was, let me explain why you have to take this stance. Think about how much everyone loves to get a good deal while shopping. Even if we know what we are buying is worth more, not many of us would insist on paying above what is being asked. Being fair is not our job. It is up to the seller to set a price that accurately reflects the value, and stick to it. Similarly, you can see how many could use the same strategy when deciding how to behave with people. If they can get away with treating someone poorly, even if they know the person deserves better, they still would. It’s up to the person who is being mishandled to reject the behavior and insist on respect. At the end of the day, ownership and responsibility of ensuring this happens falls on the individual.

Our self- value also plays a critical role in determining the goals we set for ourselves. Do we aim high or do we only go after what is easy and requires little effort? Additionally, it acts as a guide and allows us to limit interactions with people and circumstances that don’t appreciate who we are, or add to our well being. Until we have a high level of self- worth, it will be a challenge to whole heartedly go after and expect the best to come to us.

Whether it’s having success, finding true love, or maintaining good health, we are the one’s that first have to believe we are worthy of them, and then everyone else will follow.

 

Rachel Bryant Lundy