This I Believe

Lorraine - Woodbridge, Virginia
Entered on April 16, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

“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