This I Believe

Lorraine - Woodbridge, Virginia
Entered on April 16, 2007

“I Define Me!”

by Lorraine Morris Cole

One of the most reported media stories of late has been the Don Imus controversy. With his derogatory remarks he added a fuel to the fire that is racism in our United States of America. Yet, I know that I am not a “nappy headed ho.” Nor were his words accepted by the proud and poised women of the Rutgers University Championship Basketball Team. Simply put, I believe that Don Imus can only define himself. No one can define me.

I think there is a lesson in this for women and minorities. Racism and sexism are still very real issues in our society. Sometimes it lies dormant and some of us are lulled into a false sense of security. Then it appears again to rear its ugly head.

I was not surprised by the comments because I am very familiar with the Imus and his “shock jock” material. I have listened to him on occasion, simply because I like to know how people think. I have always found him offensive. Yet, to remain nonhypocritical, I won’t try to define him. It’s not my job. But, I do have the right to form an opinion of him based on his comments.

I am a proud and educated Black woman. I am accomplished in my profession. I have a loving family, great friends and beautiful children. I am a good person. I am also imperfect with flaws and insecurities. Yet, I know who I am and feel really comfortable and in tune enough with myself to make a self-assessment.

I can’t take full credit for my high self-esteem. Like Sidney Poitier so eloquently states of his parents in his great new book, The Measure of a Man, I too grew up with parents who never allowed me to see myself as “less than” who I am. What a great gift! No derogatory remark can take that away from me.

Many of the people defining Black women have no idea who we are. I have had the pleasure of spending this life surrounded by wonderful black women. My love for them prompted me to co-author a book about us. Work It, Girl! The Black Woman’s Guide to Professional Success will be available to readers in September. For my co-author, Pamela McBride and I, it has been a labor of love. We have enjoyed chronicling the accomplishments of women who range from teachers to corporate CEOs. I think the common thread in our interactions with these women is that they all demonstrated a “sense of self” that isn’t a product of someone else’s definition.

I believe we all must define ourselves and not let others do it for us!

Word Count: 444