The Chronicle, U.S.A.

Self-actualization as a goal in male/female relationships

The thoughts of black women are consumed with black men and what would best serve them. We buy more hair and cosmetic products to beautify ourselves. By gaining or losing weight, sculpting our very selves into his perfect image we say we are working on a goal. Since many, many black men have expressed that they like pretty women based on a European model, we set that image as a goal. It matters not if it is best suited to us. We endure threats, set backs, put downs and whatnot to achieve said goals. Self often does not come into play. Even if we choose to be natural, if our nature does not suit the model, we spend hours beating that nature into submission. We make sure to always, always think about money and careers because black men say they want a woman to not depend so much on them and their paycheck. In other words, men don't like scrubs either. Sometimes men want other men to want what they have. They want to be envied. Possibly, it mimics the feeling of respect. Good or bad, we are only doing what we are created to do as humans: achieving self-actualization. The way in which individuals achieve a version of self-actualization differs from the actual self-actualization model. It is almost like when a child is found scribbling outside of the lines in a coloring book. One school of thought says stay inside the lines and another says the opposite. However, until we as a culture turn inward into ourselves, looking at each man and woman without mask, we will never ever truly understand and resolve our differences enough to make it to the top of the pyramid. Many black women have settled for the baby momma status because somehow they could not achieve wife status with the man of their choosing. (No, women don't often wait for a man to choose them these days - odds too steep and most people don‘t want to be alone.) So since they have taken that control in relationships for themselves, they have to settle or negotiate for what they can get. Because of pride, ego and envy, women have not rectified themselves to many of these negotiated terms and they are in turmoil. Yes, most women are confused and they don't know it. Men know it but women don't. These women often in turn, raise young men and women who are confused. In the end, they may all give up on each other and then there will be other societal problems which stem from the confusion. And then you have the component of women who just don't care how they achieve their goals. They are unscrupulous. Some will knowingly become pregnant in hopes of a wedding. If they have to coax, ply and lure a man with sex, money or power, they will. Men do it too. (That is where most of these behaviors come from - a man. Women often emulate men.) We are a fragmented society, us blacks. We have Gerry rigged parts of this and bits of that to replicate a society that we say is unaccommodating of us. What we have instead created is a sub-culture that many of us feel is beneath us. Maybe it is but also, it may be too accurate of a reflection of us and we find ourselves running from ourselves. We have holes to fill. The ones of us who understand our confusion have gone to the Church and the College and still a smaller faction to drug addiction. Active and destructive addictions of all sorts, really. A portion of us have glommed on to self-help, trying to fix ourselves. A few of us have accepted ourselves and whatever reality that goes along with it. We are American. We are Black/African-American/fill-in the blank. Our society is divided into rich and poor, educated and uneducated, materialistic and Godly, intellectual and idiot, sophisticate and rube. The other types of Blacks We pick which groups in which to belong based sometimes on where we want to be because the future self allows for growth and self-actualization. In contrast, the present is what it is. We are assigned groups by our peers in cases where indecision is an issue. That is why one will hear another call him or her “ghetto” or “needy/thirsty” etcetera. Yeah, it is sort of like high school but with way more responsibility. Okay, maybe like senior year in college. These are only observations. The best advice is still wisdom: “Pride goeth before a fall.” or more accurately: “Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall.” (Proverb 16:18) It is my opinion that we as a culture should pay more attention to things that matter, make a promise to read more non-fiction and become active in our community through participation in forums, meetings, and lectures etcetera. These are not prideful activities but in order to participate in such hyper-personalized activities, we must create them. Men and women who think like this way tend to reflect who they on the outside. They are calm and together. They usually are not flashy—sort of boring by today’s standards, well read, educated and more self-actualized than the average bear. The average person would walk right past them, think nothing of their conversation and maybe even laugh at them. The women who think this way are sensible in dress and style and don’t think about how to get a man 24-7, 365. They have real problems to solve at work and are an important part of the team. A warm cup of tea and a hug makes them smile and they don’t immediately know the names of all of the R&B or rap songs or know the latest celebrity gossip. They are unlikely to oops a pregnancy. Most people call them grandmas, even if they are childless. They spend most of their time thinking, thinking, thinking usually about whatever they do for work their personal goals and where they want to go on vacation. They are moving towards self-actualization naturally. And as much as I hear some folk put down a college-educated person, one the more useful lines of thought I learned about in college is the need to achieve self-actualization. Self-actualization is a psychology theory by Abraham Maslow that describes the stages of growth in humans. The bottom of the pyramid talks about health and is the very least of goals a human being needs to feel sane. Safety—like food, clothing and shelter—is near the bottom of the pyramid as well. Belonging and love is two levels up on the pyramid and includes interpersonal relationships. Esteem includes self-worth, respect of peers and is located under the capstone of the self-actualization pyramid model. When humans entered the level of self-actualization, they have concerned themselves with their future self, legacy and problem solving. We should all be working towards self-actualization however if a major life concern is pure survival—near the bottom of the pyramid— or health at the base of the pyramid, then achieving self-actualization must be placed on a back burner until the basics are secure and in place.

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