A few members of the black community have liked a particular post from Gospel of Grace and Peace Facebook page today, which is a quote on success by Maya Angelou. Come to think of it, maybe there is a reason why this quote resonates with them so much, as much as it also resonates with me. When I consider the context of how the white supremacy system has sabotaged the entire lives of Africans through slavery and oppression down through the centuries, such as uprooting their families from their Motherland during the colonial period and enforcing structural and institutional racism which makes it difficult for them to make a living, as well as propagating a narrow one-track definition of success in the name of capitalism and imperialism, I now see her quote as a revolutionary and subversive act of creative rebellion and defiance to divest oneself from the mainstream view of success by boldly declaring that “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Let’s deconstruct this amazing quote and see how it is so liberating and empowering to us who are seeking to challenge and dismantle the oppressive white supremacy system:
1. Success is liking yourself.
This is the first major step to regaining our sense of true identity and self-worth. The white-washed media has sought to devalue and dehumanise non-whites, especially the black community, by portraying white people in a positive light and casting non-white people in a less than positive light. Studies on the influence of the mass media on black children have revealed shocking but perhaps unsurprising results: they grew up hating themselves or their own skin colour. Being impressionable at a young age, it is no wonder that people in the black or non-white community grew up struggling with a sense of unworthiness and inferiority complex. It is therefore of utmost importance that we, including the black community, regain our dignity and establish ourselves in self-love and self-acceptance, and dare to shine in the full glory of our original identity.
2. Success is liking what you do.
For too long, the capitalistic and imperialistic system has been imposing their ideals on us, telling us to conform to the norms in order to be accepted or recognised. These norms tend to revolve around status, power, class, material wealth, possessions and so on. These ideals are based on an illusion of separateness and do not nourish the soul, nor do they engender compassion for oneself and others. Conversely, when we choose to listen to our heart and follow our dreams, we will find ourselves doing what we really like (and thus liking what we do), in a way that honours our spirit and the natural environment we live in. We thrive when we are empowered to express our gifts and fulfil our callings that serve to heal ourselves and the world around us.
3. Success is liking how you do it.
Similarly, the white supremacy system tends to breed many “white saviours” who want to run and control the whole world, telling others how to do what they are doing and expecting them to listen and obey and submit to them. But when we choose to think for ourselves, we will find that we need not have to follow the practices of the system, especially if they do not serve us or others or bring about the highest good. We can like what we do and how we do it, whether we are doing high-profile or low-profile work, or whether we are helping a large group of people or helping them one-on-one.