What's Love got to do With it?
Love is the key to a better world, but making the choice to love others can be the hardest thing to do in life. Why should you care about someone else’s well-being, let alone their happiness, when as a Black girl your own life is so darn complex and often brings a lot of daily pressures? It took you so long to get to a place where you’re confident and accepting of yourself. It took so much work to acknowledge that you’re a queen. Shouldn’t it be all about you now? Ugh. Should you even bother with those folks who won’t even try to understand the difference between “Black lives matter,” “Black lives also matter,” and “All lives matter”?
Is there really a point in being selfless, in getting involved in causes that have nothing to do with you? There is. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the light of destructive selfishness.” - Dr. Martin Luther King
Without love you cannot change the world. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman
Be aware. You have your own problems, your own fears and insecurities, and you always have to take care of yourself first. You have to find a balance between taking care of you—and taking care of others. For example, if you were starving, you would have to feed yourself before you could feed anyone else. But if you have enough, why not share? Besides, life can get busy. It’s important not to get lost in the spiral of things happening—it will keep you from being aware of the world and its difficulties: Only when you’re fully in sync with the world around you can you improve it, and, at the same time, breathe new meaning into other people’s lives and into your own. Your actions have a much longer lifespan than you might think: they live in the short, medium and long term. A selfish action that is repeated every day in the short term will ultimately have a long-term consequence. Don’t be indifferent to other people—work for a better world!
Listen. Love starts with listening to what people have to say and getting to know them. Actually listen. Don’t just pretend to listen while thinking about something else. Give others the opportunity to express themselves, to share their worries or an exciting story—even if you don’t like it. If you tend to monopolize the conversation, you’ll be unable to know how others feel. By being constantly concerned about your own problems and your own ideas, you will have neither the time nor the energy to be selfless.
Keep your feelings in check. Indifference, or even cruelty, has no place among altruists. Enjoy seeing others happy. As you find your own happiness in the happiness of others, you are more likely to seek out more ways to be selfless. Be positive and kind. Becoming selfless is impossible without positivity! Avoid being pessimistic or fatalistic; it keeps you from giving of yourself. Positivity is essential in understanding others; kindness also goes hand in hand with understanding and will give you the ability to forgive and move on. Get rid of negative assumptions, and choose instead neutrality, diplomacy—or passion!
Empathize. Be sensitive both to the joys but also to the sorrows of those around you. Being selfless involves being able to see past your personal issues and be empathetic, even to people you’ve never met. Empathy and altruism are inseparable. If you understand someone else’s feelings, you will be more likely to show altruism toward that person. You could also develop empathy for people you’ve never met. Practice putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you were faced with their problems, how would you feel? How would you like to be treated? When you have a lot of empathy, you easily put yourself in the place of the other, you more easily feel what they feel, you share your emotions. Compassion is an innate feeling in response to the suffering of the other, it is a deep reaction that comes from the heart. The more empathy we have, the more we are able to feel compassion.
Show solidarity. While everything might be going right for you, this might not necessarily be the case for those around you. Make it your moral duty to live in solidarity with others. If you know someone close to you is going through a difficult time, find out how you can best support them. Cultivate a desire to help others by asking them, for example, how you could make yourself useful to them.
Act selflessly. Helping without expecting anything in return is not an easy task. We live in a society that rewards good deeds—with recognition, for example. Acting selflessly requires a little training: you can start by making an anonymous and generous donation to an association, for instance. You’ll get nothing in return except the happiness of having been able to help. Be altruistic, even when no one realizes you’re doing it. Have you ever felt a thrill of happiness in making someone happy? Some people wonder if it is possible to be genuinely selfless, since selfless acts can actually create a lot of pleasure. That good feeling you get when you do something selfless is a signal that you’re doing something right. Doing kind things is supposed to feel good. Think of how you feel when you do something cruel. You probably feel a little sick and sad inside. That’s your body telling you that your actions are harmful. But rather than focusing on whether selflessness isn’t actually selfishness, learn to appreciate the happiness of helping others. Altruistic people do not act with kindness and generosity because they’re waiting for their merit to be recognized. They do it because it is the right thing to do, and because they are happy to be able to help others when they can.
As you can see, love has everything to do with it! So starting today, go out there and live your love out.
-- A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.
M.J. is the author of Badass Black Girl, a daily dose of affirmations for Black Girls
“You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” ―“Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book
#1 Gift Idea in Teen & Young Adult Cultural Heritage Biographies, Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers
Affirmations for strong, fearless Black girls. Wisdom from Badass Black female trailblazers who accomplished remarkable things in literature, entertainment, education, STEM, business, military and government services, politics and law, activism, sports, spirituality, and more.
Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. In this journal designed for teenage Black girls, MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes. By reflecting on these topics, you will confront the issues that can hold you back from living your best life and discovering your Black girl bliss.
Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help you nurture creativity, positive self-awareness and Black girl bliss. This journal honors the strength and spirit of Black girls.
Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek to inspire and ignite discussion. You are growing up in a world that tries to tell you how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages you to fight the flow and determine for yourself who you want to be.
Badass Black Girl helps you to:
Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations
Learn more about yourself through insightful journaling
Become comfortable and confident in your authentic self