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Rock My Soul 5-9

Hello readers, how are you?

I really mean to ask you all about yourselves at the beginning of my posts because as a socially awkward person, I simultaneously feel like I don’t talk but talk too much about myself. But it’s especially important to connect in stressful and uncertain times. So I hope that you’re all doing well!

Have I really not blogged in a month? Well, I had been kind of busy trying what I can in this presidential election that is bizarrely still happening. I did one thing and had a bunch to think about and consider… and now a pandemic! No time like a quarantine to change around my neglected blog, eh? I’ve relegated “Fashion” to a tag and upgraded “Mental Health” to a category. I feel like mental health can get lumped in with self-care meaning spa day, but after reading Rock My Soul, my focus will more holistic.

Ch. 5- Refusing to Be a Victim

No black person in the United States can have any measure of self-esteem if he or she has not cultivated the capacity to be a critical thinker, to live consciously.

To the chagrin of conservatives, this chapter isn’t about shirking racism, claiming that it’s over or doesn’t exist. While there is discourse about people embracing a victim mentality, personally, I’ve not really found that to be a big issue, but I am not black, it’s not my place, and maybe that’s an internal discussion.

There is emphasis on living “consciously,” which Nathaniel Branden calls “a tool of survival– the ability to be aware of the environment in some form, and to guide action accordingly.” hooks says that it’s needed as part of positive self-esteem and to eschew seeing oneself as powerless, “[black] people must willingly engage in a politics of self-reliance that upholds taking responsibility.”

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(I put “black” in brackets because the author who is black is speaking to a black audience, and I do not want to make it seem like I’m speaking at/scolding them and that this can apply to anyone! Additionally, I’m not sure if she means that having a community eschew victimhood mentality would be more meaningful than a singular person)

Victimhood and responsibility seem like big words which can sound like the “bootstrap” ideology. However, I think that hooks means to not fall prey to notions that you can’t do anything to improve yourself or life even if that is living consciously and refusing white supremacist messaging on tv.

Ch. 6- Thinking Critically

This chapter does not provide a process to clarify hooks’s idea of thinking critically so much as discussing how damaging education systems can be on black students’ self-esteem. When is it especially racist, hooks calls it psychological terrorism. It is perhaps ironic because education with anti-biased settings is what is needed to create an environment that will foster self-love.

Ch. 7- Teaching Values

This chapter is about the importance of reading and an encouraging culture to develop critical consciousness. It may be the fault of those in power when institutions fail, but individuals or even communities can do what’s in their power for collective racial uplift and not just individual material gain. Even if one cannot read, hooks champions atmospheres in which even more social exchanges involved discussion regarding decolonization of our minds.

Ch. 8- Spiritual Redemption

African-American slaves interpreted Christian scripture to their needs of human validation. God especially choosing the oppressed allowed them to accept reality but also devise spiritual practices expressing their humanity. hooks believes that modern established churches have abandoned spiritual needs for conservative conformism that creates hierarchies and therefore the valuation of some over others. Such stress has led to young (black) people abandoning the Church and unfortunately the communal nature of  spirituality and therefore liberation altogether.

It was incredible to read hooks’s critique of books marketed to black children because I often feel that I’m maarte with my Filipino Kids Books reviews. But if a supportive education leads to self-esteem and freedom, shouldn’t it be necessary especially for more children who are more vulnerable? hooks goes on to cite the lack of a space for critical review, and I was just like… !!! I couldn’t believe I was kind of on the same path as this legendary thinker. 😅😎

Be sure to check out the first part of these notes.
Stay safe!

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Rock My Soul 1-4

I can’t speak for all Filipinos as anyone of an identity shouldn’t be expected (in general it’s a good idea, but we really should start using the noggins more than eyes about what is good for people). I’ve European heritage, have lived only in the US. I hash together vlogs about Filipino kids books I wish I knew existed as kid. I wrestle with my experience of the only Filipinos I know seeming incredibly reactionary and in what/who their interests are tied.

It’s difficult to come from a background whose poverty is fetisized not only by external paternal forces but those in our own culture, our individual selves. Pageants over policy. It describes not only what garners the retweets but what’s considered “pride.” Stick a flag emoji in your handle and share a video of sob story answering trivia.

I’d heard of bell hook’s Rock My Soul: Black People & Self-Esteem, and my mind would come back to it when I’d see such kind of contradictions. How can there be so much of this excitement for a people yet unwillingness for the betterment for the lesser statused of them? I don’t mean to take a black woman’s work and just insert myself into it, but 1) I’d have no idea where to turn for any kind of Filipino work like this 2) While specifics may be for black people, others can probably relate to more general themes and probably should connect how they’re related 3) That’s kind of what I intend to do.

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1: Healing Wounded Hearts

In the opening chapter, bell hooks introduces why it’s no wonder black people may have “wounded” self-worth. Slavery and segregation have imposed observable white supremacist violence, but because self-esteem or the wellbeing of peoples’ souls aren’t very valued, the psychological impact of things like beauty standards and more namely, integration have not been studied and discussed.

2: Lasting Trauma

Although science has been a tool of racism that can be suspicious, mental health must be a part of liberation. Everyday violence reenacts trauma and without proper strategies that include decolonized thinking, healing can’t take place. hooks also critiques conservative blame and denial of black pain by noting their failure to connect ongoing trauma (like PTSD) to certain behavior and a perpetuation of racism by judging black people more harshly for this.

bell hooks quote

3: Ending the Shame That Binds

The shame of this chapter is that being (physically) ugly in white supremacist patriarchy. Shame conditions to intimidate especially vulnerable lower-statused people. The author wonders if black employment gains have come at the cost of psychological ones. Colonized minds value the imitation of acting and looking white.

I hate to bring this up but seeing as how white people have no problem, I’m reminded of mail-order brides. I can’t say the degree to which it’s encouraged culturally, but just from existing in the US, when you look at who is famous, who is rewarded, who has resources, who receives justice (who is denied), who is fawned over for doing the which actions, whose actions are met which such unmatched animosity, it’s easy to imagine the need to keep women impoverished financially and psychologically to pimp out for cheap labor. And how is this working out? Are we still getting beaten, raped, and stuffed into the backs of freezers? It’s no wonder that men that buy women stand with macho politicians.

4: Living With Integrity

Integrity is defined by Stephen Carter and Nathaniel Branden as being able to tell right and wrong and acting on it. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it seems like greed and other unethical behavior is rewarded. So to exist or even succeed, people must assimilate to bad behavior. However, if one comes from decolonized background, the imbalance of behavior and values create crisis and hypocrisy which Branden says is self-invalidating. There’s no integrity without honesty; lying spreads to other areas of one’s life.

I know it’d be nice and clean to end at chapter five, but this is already 600 words, and I’d like to include thoughts from the preface where hooks wonders why she and her siblings, who were more economically and academically privileged than their parents, were more psychologically fragile. I totally relate seeing my mother and others uproot their lives across the world, yet I have severe anxiety. I can only attribute it to Mom and at least one other woman I’m thinking of grew up in environments where everyone is literally family. Obviously, family is not synonymous with support, so I wonder about how toxic behavior is dealt.

I probably could’ve written a lot more but I read and didn’t write and already started 3 other books on here and don’t want so many posts on one book, so perhaps in the future when I re-read!