Self-Help That Doesn’t Suck #6 – Rock My Soul

Yet again. Another shooting of an unarmed black person. There are no words.

I wonder what to DO. I usually feel even more useless when I post hashtags and Instagram photos commemorating the murdered. I hardly do it for that reason. I have no qualms with how others choose to protest, but it does not work for me. I probably think way too much on these things…

My “doing” tonight in light of this recent tragedy is to offer one of the most impressionable self-care/self-help titles I have ever read.

Also: for my black people. I see you. I see us. And I really pray you take care of yourself as best as you know how.

And for those who are true allies out there, thanks.

book cover of rock my soul with sepia image of black hand wrapped in athletic bandage holding onto pole

Title: Rock My Soul

The Break-Down: From the inside cover, “In her most challenging and provocative book to date, bell hooks gives voice to what many black people have thought and felt, but seldom articulated. She offers readers a clear, passionate examination of the role self-esteem plays in the African-American experience in determining whether individuals or groups succeed or self-sabotage. She considers the reasons why even among “the best and brightest” students at Ivy League institutions “there were young men and women beset by deep feelings of unworthiness, of ugliness inside and outside.”…With true brilliance, she rigorously examines and identifies the barriers — political and cultural — that keep African Americans from emotional well-being.”

Why I Loved It: hooks does not mince words as to what living in a racist society can do to the self-concept of black people, but she is also careful to include the ways self-esteem is a universal issue and the myriad of actions black people have taken to own their own story surrounding it.

There is no one “black” experience. I grew up in a relatively safe, majority white and Mexican city in So Cal with Nigerian immigrants as my parents. Yet, so many of hooks’ stories and explorations rang/ring true in my life. I did not escape the feelings of inadequacy and the urge to “prove them wrong” as I journeyed through school, into the military, and of course, in my personal life. I too questioned my beauty and ability based on my race and gender.

I love that reading this book was a healing act in itself against this torrent of trauma and often unspeakable pain.

For You, If…: You want an honest look at one of the buzziest words of the 90’s (self-esteem is to 1990’s as self-love is to Now…) but also want real social/political consciousness surrounding this. You are a black person who has been dogged by feelings of inadequacy or shame but have found no real lasting outlet to explore these feelings (Instagram platitudes can only go so far…)  and maybe therapy didn’t work for you or you don’t have the money/time/energy to see someone. You want to feel less alone. 

Woo-Woo Factor: 1 out of 5 Doreen Virtue Angel Cards. hooks doesn’t delve into much “woo” in this book.

Onward and don’t forget to take care of yourself,

Hannah