Rock My Soul is about self-esteem in the African-American community. I’m not African-American and therefore some of the points she makes in her book do not apply to me, though they were interesting to read about. The main point the book makes is that, as a group, blacks have internalized so much negativity and falsehoods, dating back from slavery times, and also compounded by media images (especially eurocentric ones which paint any black features and characteristics as bad) that self-esteem is very low. Of course low self-esteem leads to a host of problems in society, and they are seen in the black family, in relationships between black men and women, and so on, so it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed.
A quote that really stood out to me went as follows: ” Any African-American who watches television for more than a few hours a week is daily ingesting toxic representations and poisonous pedagogy. Yet the ingestion of constant propaganda that teaches black people self-hate has become so much the norm that it is rarely questioned.”
And finally, to end with a great quote from Toni Cade Bambara: “We often overestimate the degree to which exploitative behaviour has been normalized and the degree to which we’re internalized these norms. It takes, then, a commitment to an acutely self-conscious practice to be able to think and behave better than we’ve been taught.”
– Toni Bambara