Overcoming the fear of judgement - how to walk into a desegregated school
Okay so check this girl out. Her name is Elizabeth Eckford. She's one of nine black students who attended the first desegregated high school in Little Rock Arkansas.
Look at her face and look at the faces of the people around her.
She was literally surrounded by an angry mob of students and parents trying to block her from entering the school. The situation was so out of control they had to call in the National Guard. The National Guard, guys!
When I read social media comments about this event, people seem to think that desegregating schools was about satisfying black people's desire to go to school with white people. But don't be ridiculous. Look at the photo. Do you think this girl looks strong and determined to study with the people surrounding her? No!
Elizabeth just wanted to study.
For decades black communities fought to get access to books and resources for their schools - the same resources that the government handed out to white schools every year. That's it. But every single request was denied. Turns out separate but equal wasn't equal at all. If black students had any chance of competing with the rest of the world, they were gonna have to gain access to the same stuff. And it just so happened that all the stuff was at white schools...
Look at the picture again. Elizabeth looks calm and confident, right?. How the heck is she managing to deal with all the hate? All the judgement?
If I was with her, this is what I would have told her:
Their judgement is more about them than it is about you.
When someone's judging you, pay attention. Is what they're saying true? If it's not, pay even closer attention 'cause they're telling you something about themselves. Other people’s actions and words often tell you something about THEM, it usually has nothing to do with you.
Use hate to your advantage.
Hate is a direct result of fear. People spew hate when they perceive you as a threat. Pinpoint what you think they're threatened by and find a way to capitalize on it.
The judgement is real, but don’t use it as an excuse to fail.
Throughout life, people will say and do mean things to get you to give up. That’s not an excuse to stop trying. It’s just an opportunity for you to ask yourself why you’re trying in the first place, and use that as your motivation to keep going.
Hold your head up high and acknowledge that other people’s judgement really hurts.
You’re gonna see and hear hateful things all throughout your life. Don’t bother saying “I don’t care what people think”. Cause you do. Everyone cares what other people think. But there’s a difference between caring what other people think and letting what other people think completely define you. You define you.
Good luck. You’re badass!