Role model: A role model or mentor is a person who demonstrates a particular behavior, skill, or social role for another person to emulate. Role models might emerge because of character and conduct or because of particular skills and talents.
Modelling ourselves on others is part of human nature, and we all subconsciously take in the Inspiration that is all around us – in newspapers, magazines, on our smartphones and tablets. It’s rare that a moment goes by without someone trying to persuade us to do something, or buy something, and it usually comes in the form of an idealised image or lifestyle that we’re encouraged to replicate with the incentive of gaining some measure of fame.
Now, despite some of the progress that we’ve made as a community, being a young Black Woman seems harder to me in today’s world. Perhaps it is because I took so much for granted during my childhood years. I mean, I was younger, but I was also excelling in school. Most of my friends were excelling as well. Even though we competed against one another, it was never negative. Growing up as a young girl in Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a mother who understood the importance of instilling in me a sense of pride, integrity, and self-confidence. And when I look back, my friends, cousins and I had quite a few role models. Women we looked up to, women we considered to be our “shero’s”. And we all shared a dream that one day we would be great like them. Oh how I would have loved to have a Michelle Obama to look up to and aspire to be like when I was younger! Hell, I admire her and am inspired by her now!
But today, the Kim Kardashians and the Blac Chynas have become the face of role models for many of our girls because we have lowered our standards to such a point where women can now make an entire career based primarily on a superficial level. How big their butt is, or how big their breasts are, how many likes can a selfie on social media collect, because the number of likes and followers you have are now equal to your worth, cuz god forbid not enough folks like what you put on social media. At this point, being internet famous is almost just as relevant as being famous thanks to T.V. or movies.
This generation is living in a time in history where we as Black Women have never been so underappreciated and demeaned. Where characterizations that are commonly ascribed to Black Women are both historical and insidious. We’re viewed as objects, and are represented as loud, ghetto, and ratchet. And yes, we as Women share in the blame because too many of us are happily perpetuating the ignorant stereotypes that I’m talking about.
To give you a sense of just how dire the state of society is for our young Black girls today, let me give you an example of how some role models are labeled as either “Bad Bitches”, “Instagram Models”, or even “Athletes‘ Wives”, but rarely do you hear a young girl looking up to a Congresswoman, Doctor, Scientist, or Supreme Court Judge. Why is it that so few of our young Black girls are aspiring to be our future leaders? Where are those who feel the need and desire to be an activist and advocate for change within their community?
The thing is, young Women, especially those in our Black and Brown communities, need more positive female role models. It’s crucial that our young Women have opportunities to meet Women who have overcome obstacles to become successful in their own lives and are willing to share their testimony and lend their support. It is imperative for these girls to have examples of Women who have gained strength by coming together to network, and for them to learn the importance of giving back to their neighborhoods (even if they don’t feel that they’ve obtained much from them).
This is why I feel so strongly about the need for us grown Women to get it together and raise our standards! With the percentage of positive representation of Black women on television being so few, it is important for positive role models, in real life, to step up and teach our young girls. As Women, we’re tasked with the burden and responsibility of ushering in new generations and nurturing, shaping and molding the minds of children. But if our young Women are not being nurtured, shaped and molded into responsible, compassionate and successful adults while in their younger years when there are plenty people who stand by and watch them struggle, who do we then blame for a wayward, lost and crime-filled generation to come? This is why we can’t forget about our young Women and act like the problem is just going to fix itself!
Women are multifaceted gems and we wear several hats, each one becoming more and more decorated as we get older. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, career women, and most importantly, the nurturers and providers for the next generation we usher in. However, as we get older and mature, we go through several transitions that can sometimes be very uncomfortable and difficult to manage. We are faced with many cultural and political dilemmas that we are often unprepared to deal with. For our young girls to have someone there to talk with them and guide them through the myriad of issues and situations that will arise as they mature into young Women, can make all the difference in the world in terms of the quality of Women they will become. We Women have to show our young girls that there is so much more out there to look up too.