Whether you plan on turning your passion into revenue or just want to enlighten yourself. It begins believing in your own ability.
I am a 22 year old Afro- Latino man with major depressive disorder. I call this state of mind, the sweet blues with a hint of rage. James Baldwin once said “ to be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage all the time.” I felt that. Everyday is a struggle. Theres a ton of resistance that is thrown at me when in the pursuit of my goals.
Micro-aggressions agitate my soul on the daily. Police are constantly in my rear view mirror fishing. America feels like a psychologically strenuous race that I am 400 steps behind in.
Sometimes I feel like giving up. Sometimes I feel like the sky is the limit. Sometimes I feel both at the exact same time. This journey of self growth has not been an easy one, apart from the occasional wins along the way. But there is much more failure that goes along with each victory. Suffering is inevitable, therefore there is no point in denying it or attempting to escape the pain of growth. Progress is a responsibility to be accepted and I joyfully carry this burden of light.
Just a couple months ago I would not even have the mental strength to fathom where my life is at this present moment. In 5 months, I opened up a physical location for Taino Studios. Gained 15 pounds of muscle. Cut off people that were draining my energy without nurturing my spirit. Bought a classic corvette that I have always wanted. Learned how to ride a horse. And have given myself my own opportunity for my art being appreciated. Took for me to hit rock bottom before I slowly began my ascent to efficient productivity- but Im here now. Alive. Happy. Growing. There’s honestly no point in brooding on the woeful nature of yesterdays shortcomings. It’s gone and dead and the only thing left is the memories we carry, even those are deceitful sometimes. Journaling has been a life saver. And after reflecting on five months of daily entries with absolutely no filter. My entries are dark- yes. But the last thing I remember an old martial arts instructor telling me was “yin and yang have both light and dark for absolute balance.” A bit pretentious, but I get the gist of what he was trying to convey to my tender self.
New resolutions evolved my psyche and paradigm, which jump started my passion for creativity. That ultimately nurtured a creative particle within me. History, introspection, and actively doing something about the shit that is bothering me, instead of leaving them as abstract thoughts. Has transformed my life for the better. I’d like to share with you some practical take aways.
(I am a senior in University and have not received my Masters in social work or achieved my license in clinical social work. All the following are take aways from research and self traction that have had positive results which can be understood and empathized with by black and white folk. I would like to make a disclaimer that everyone is different . What works for me, may not work for you, But, they will work for someone.) With that being said…
Do your History
In his 1930 essay “ economic possibilities for our grandchildren” the economist John Keynes predicted a 15 hours work week in the 21st century, creating the equivalent to a four day weekend. This became the popular view. In a 1957 article New York Times, the writer Eric Broneuw predicted that, as work became easier, our identity would be defined by our hobbies, or our family life. He was never more correct.
Due to the pandemic there has been a boom in entrepreneurs in fabric of Americas economic system. However, people are still working extremely long hours for a similar wage. In a 2005 economic report, the richest 10% of married men had the longest average work week. This shift doesn’t agree with economic logic — & economic history. The rich have always worked less than the poor, because they can afford to.
As for all my black folk out there reading this, think about it this way. This country was built off off of being efficient-not fair. Hence, explaining slavery- never justifying it. Anti-literacy laws and policies were put into place in order to keep us unknowing to the infinite economic opportunities financial freedom would bring to the table.
In the book post traumatic slave syndrome- Dr Joy Degruy discusses how American history is sanitized.
There’s been a lot of atrocities in global history, but none as gruesome as the transatlantic slave trade. America is hesitant to take accountability for its history of crimes on black folk which still effect us today.
It’s pretty difficult to cultivate the will to chase dreams that are under represented in social media. All while indulging in trauma porn.
Social media culture, romanticizes 9–5 jobs as though socialization is not a key to the factor in our world view.
In his 1969 study, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A census, Phillip Curtin placed the number of blacks transported across the ocean at 8 million.
According to Digital history, during the 1850’s- African Americans typically work six days a week for at least ten hours a day. FOR FREE. If not free, a subpar minimum wage that was not sufficient enough to buy the freedom of one family.
However, working on larger plantations took a copious amount of effort and skill. Slave masters typically relied on slaves for carpentry work, bricklaying, Blackman work, tanning, tailoring, butcher work, masonry, cabinet making, metal work, and silver work. Slaves did not just plant cotton, hemp, and tobacco. Their skills were exploited for the sake of capitalism, the same way many peoples skills are neglected by a 9–5 job paying minimum wage.
Essentially, we have two fundamental choices in this economy that has proven to thrive based on efficiency, not equality nor equity . Those options are 1. work for yourself. Or 2. Work for someone else. Sometimes people do both. History shows us why many have chosen to default to latter.
Explore Your Own Values
Value- a persons principals or standards or behaviors; ones judgement of what is important in life.
rooted in the latin word “ valere ” which means, be strong, be well; be of value, be worth.
Ethic — moral principals that govern a persons behavior or the conducting of an activity.
Knowing what we want to be is inspiring in of itself. Suffering is unavoidable in the pursuit of desires. This is one of the four noble truths found at the core of Buddism.
. Life is suffering
. Suffering arises from attachment to desire
. Suffering ceases when attachments to desire ceases
. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the four noble truths
It is important to carefully consider your values for several reasons:
1.They free your mind from:
self seeking motives
2. Values and morals guide your energy toward zestful living. Giving you an edge on resistance stopping you from doing something meaningful
3. Being mindful of basic values can motivate you to practice constructive dissatisfaction while motivates you to improve the quality of your work.
4. High values and some success meeting these goals one necessary for high self esteem.
5. Self professed values that aren’t utilized are worthless and a waste of energy. Not living up to what is said can come across as phony.
Thus been said, manifesting your growth is more than solving problems. They key is learning to embody what is truly valuable to you, achieving the best version of you.
However, just because you achieve these goals does not mean you will develop a a moral world view.
As Stevin Covey, the author of highly effective people, points out, many people set goals and strive for years to achieve one after another, only to discover when they get to the end goals that they didn’t want to go there.
He says “ no one on their death bed ever complains that they should have spent more time in the office. “
In a new book, first thing first, covey says everyone & every family should have a well thought out “ mission statement “, a set of values, or a guiding philosophy of life. At the end of life, intimate relationships & how you have dealt with others are the things that count.
As a country have we become more moral since the transatlantic slave trade?
I’ll leave you to answer that one in the comment section at the end of the post.
For black people, history can be undone. We’re here, even though we didn’t ask to be.
You can however, decide the basic goals & ethical principals that will direct your life day by day, moment by moment. That way the cycle of economic dependency can end to a better future for your children.
Make a practical plan of action. f#*k the rest
There are a handful of avoidable challenged & problems, when turning visions to reality. Making a plan of action is your best bet. If you haven’t heard, “ failing to plan is planning to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin.
Have your creative and personal goals written down & planned out in steps will give you a reason to stay motivated and committed throughout the project. With an active plan, you can even track your progress as you move toward your goal. But first, lets take a look at how we can define an end goal using the smart method,
Smart — Well defined & clear
Measurable — Making sure progress can be tracked
Attainable — realistic & achievable
Relevant — align with your other goals
Timely — has a finishing date
Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you bump into longer more complicated task, simplify them by breaking them down into smaller ones that are easier to execute & manage without adding too much worry to your day.
Find out what is essential and prioritize your daily task. Consider time, energy, and resources required for each one. However your priorities may change, that’s ok. Stay focused on the task at hand.
Milestones can be perceived as small goals leading up to the big one that drives you to get up in the morning and get to it. Its best not to set your mile stones too far apart, that way you don’t lose motivation. Two weeks is ideal.
If you don’t have the resources available for your goals- that’s ok. First make a plan to obtain them and pursue it relentlessly by any means necessary. I would recommend downloading the apps digit and acorn, they are useful for saving money.
Visualize your dream. I previously wrote a blog post on how to visualize something, go check that out if you’re interested. If not, that’s ok.
Am I winning the race in the pursuit of my dreams? Only time will tell. Until then. Run black boy run