What’s Right With Black People?

I have asked black friends the question ‘what’s right with black people?’… and for some reason it seems to draw a blank. Someone even said – albeit jokingly – “there ain’t nothing right with us!”. We have become so focussed on our pathology that we don’t know what works anymore. Just this week, USA today published an article entitled ‘Goals for Black America Not Met’, based on research from the Eisenhower Foundation which shows that black Americans are still facing major issues to do with poverty and so on. 

Frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hearing about black under achievement and low self esteem and how far down the ladder we are. We shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist, but it’s about time our focus changed. 

I’m a big fan of the Positive Psychology movement. Dr Nick Baylis, who runs Cambridge University’s Wellbeing Institute and is England’s only positive pyschology lecturer, was my tutor when I did Positive Psychology as part of my Social & Political Science degree. The Positive Psychology movement was born from the idea that psychologists had made a mistake in the study of human behaviour. Martin Seligman, father of the movement, realized that “rather than devoting attention to lives that had gone desperately wrong, psychologists should change tack, focusing instead on people for whom everything was going well. While psychologists knew virtually all there was to know about depression, he said, they knew almost nothing of the secrets of a happy life.” The black community needs its own version of a Positive Psychology movement.

Why don’t we focus on what works? How about we look at black people doing well? How about those achieving success? How about the young people who may have been in gangs or grown up in the projects but have managed to still do well in life? How about the black families which have stayed together and are happy? What can we learn from them? This will take us further towards where we need to be rather than the continual rehashing of negative news that we already know. It’s not just the media either, it’s all of us.

I’m a big believer in focussing on solutions rather than problems – but we can only focus on solutions if we truly understand what they are. This can only be done if we spend more time looking at those who are where we all need or want to be. So rather than looking at what’s wrong, how about we start asking ourselves and each other ‘what’s right with black people?’

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5 thoughts on “What’s Right With Black People?

  1. here! here! I totally agree. I try to focus on success and other inspirational stories. BUT….at least the Black folk I know, don’t want to hear it. (Is that also a pathology?) When you talk about ebing able and capable and worthy, so many find excused or reasons for those “exceptions”. The Rule (unconsciously) is that being Black means you are less than, you must struggle, find ways to get over or get by. This matter is one of constant frustration for me at my present job (you can see it in my posts). A Postive Psychology approach…I’m not feeling so positive now…how does one maintain the optimism when you don’t see any positive responses?

  2. Pingback: Afrosphere 09.03.08 « simphani:

  3. Lola – what you should write is what is right about poeple – not black people or white people – this would go a long way to bridging the gap that perpetuates pverty and ignorance.

    Peace of God to you.

  4. It’s interesting that although there is agreement with the sentiment, there is not list being generated. I myself will reserve judgement but I thought I’d pass on information on a real world discussion group that I belong to in Atlanta. This month’s topic is What’s Right With BLACK AMERICA. I’ll try to remember to let you know what they come up with.

    NEXT TalkBLACK Topic

    MAY 2008

    What: What’s RIGHT With BLACK AMERICA

    When: 1-3 PM Sharp, Saturday May 3, 2008

    Where: Caffe Lisette, 3489 Chamblee Tucker Rd, #D Atlanta, GA, (770) 457-5200, http://www.caffelisette.com

    Details: BE PREPARED TO SHARE YOUR TOP THREE BULLET POINTS ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT WITH THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY. Please respect our panelists by being on time and plan to support this BLACK-OWNED business by purchasing at least one item; beverage or snack.

    Info: To learn more about TalkBLACK, visit http://www.TalkBLACK.net

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