How Racism is Related to Low self Esteem

Racism is a social construct that is negative in all aspects of social interaction, social systems, and social construct. The way that beliefs, ideology, norms and values are shaped become distorted and deviant in a racist social structure. The very fact that racism involves comparing the superiority of one to the inferiority of another, whether on an individual or group basis, makes it a zero sum game where one has to be denied while the other receives some form of gain. Someone loses in a situation where racism is introduced.

In American society, the very foundations of our nation were based in racism which corrupted the sciences, law, government, and life, itself. Every living African American is reminded that they were at one time, not even considered to be a full human being. Every Japanese American is reminded that, at one time, they were rounded up and placed in concentrations camps, had their property taken away, and were placed in forced labor. Every Chinese American is reminded of a time when they were virtually enslaved and denied any of the rights and privileges of citizenship, including the right to justice if they were murdered. Every Mexican American, or Latino, is reminded that they were used as migrant labor, and had no rights as full citizens. Every Native American is reminded daily of the genocide, expulsions, and forced migrations that they suffered.

Until a few decades ago, even the true history of relations between the dominant ethnic group and the oppressed ethnic groups was falsified, withheld, or laden with biased and corrupted information. The accomplishments and beneficial contributions of oppressed groups were denied, minimized, or falsely reported in historical teachings and texts, until the oppressed groups were able to bring the facts into the mainstream of publishing and education. This has helped enormously in building pride and self esteem in many ethnic groups who were led to believe that they were either a detriment to progress, or were of no real use throughout history.

Today, every American has a form of low self esteem, even when they are the most consistently privileged: White Americans and White immigrants know that they must now compete on an equal basis with people of other colors and ethnicity. The national form of low self esteem extends to those who no longer can rule by rights that are based in skin color, or which should have been handed down from ancestors who made their gains under systems of racial preference.

But the individual self esteem issues are more serious for African Americans who are incessantly reminded in the media, by immigrants, in entertainment, and in any interactions, that they are considered to be the most inferior, or that they are an automatic subject of disregard and dislike. The most esteem destroying ploy by racists is to attack the “personality” or the cultural and social values of African Americans with derision and disrespect in overt and covert form. Even the African American dialect of English is instantly attacked and derided as “Ebonics”, while, for example, Tagalog, which originated as pidgin Spanish, or the Cockney dialect of British English, are regarded as “charming” and “intelligent”.

The encouragement to self hate contributes to low self-esteem in people of color and non European ethnicity. At work, in many public forums, and in interpersonal interactions, the pressure is on for implicit agreement or withholding of response when the television comic, the boss or the co worker makes derisive comments about non Europeans and non Whites. But the temper tantrums and retaliation are infamous when the comparable behavior in “racially superior” communities is pointed out to the same derisive people, and serve to stifle healthy reactions and release of the stress that such derision causes.

It is the death of any real movement toward a color and ethnically blind society when history serves to remind everyone of how the racist society came to be, and when the racist actions of many serve as reminders that they want a racist society to continue.

But self esteem issues in the most beleaguered communities is on the rise. The truths about African American and other ethnic group’s historical contributions to this country are being revealed every day. The truths about the health effects of racially instigated low self esteem are encouraging African Americans and others to deal with the problem at it’s source, and to not internalize responses.