I do not remember the first day I stopped believing in myself.
In fact, I am quite certain many of us cannot trace our dance with inferiority to a single tune.
Those of us who struggle to root our inferiority complex within a single moment recognize that it was not a single event but, rather, a series of moments that, together, conspired to extract every grain of confidence and assurance from our bodies.
Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat.” -Jesus of Nazareth
I do not remember the moment I ceased to believe I could conquer the world.
Perhaps it occured on a playground filled with classmates who sneered and pointed out the off-brand label on my t-shirt and the fact that my teeth were stained brown.
Could it have been the moment I realized as a child that my home could not serve as a proper respite from the troubles of this world?
Could it be that I was born into a world that was intentionally constructed in the demonic hope that I would never find beauty, power, or divinity encapsulated in the catacombs of my racialized frame?
“You should ask yourself who taught you to hate
being who God made you?” -Malcolm X
While I cannot remember the precise moment I began longing for someone else to stare back at me in a mirror, I most definitely can identify the consequences of living a life riddled with self-doubt and plagued by perpetual fear.
The consequences include sojourning the world convinced I was an imposter who was under the constant threat of being exposed as ignorant, ugly, and devoid of sacred worth.
For some, being besieged by constant feelings of inferiority mean they cannot see anything within themselves worth esteeming. For others, the technologies of inferiority deployed on our lives are not summoned to tell us we are nothing; they are sent to tell us that no matter how great we may become, there will always be something greater that we are not. And it is that elusive greater-than that will always preclude us from the peace we’ve struggled our whole lives to obtain.
“I’ll tell you what Freedom is to me.
No fear!” –Nina Simone
As I set my face like a flint before 2018, I now realize that I have hidden the beast of inferiority within the dampened bowels of my conscience for far too long. Though I have fed it well throughout the years, I know that my future is predicated on me summoning the requisite courage to, once and for all, bid it sweet adieu.
I must fight the compulsion to become a bondservant to inferiority with the knowledge that my ancestors did not war against devils seen and unseen only to behold their son being converted by toxic delusions.
I must be aware of the prayers my elders prayed over me long before I ever christened the earth with an inaugural cry.
I must dare to live in the beautiful, dark, prepossessing glory of my purpose knowing that
I possess the blood of a people who
and lived fiercely
despite the fact they were forced to reside in the
region of the shadow of death.
For me to allow the voice of inferiority to have the last word is nothing less than a sin against the Holy Ghost.
I want to see myself in 2018
-James Howard Hill, Jr.
James is a doctoral student in American Religions at Northwestern University where he is currently studying the intersection of religion, popular culture, necropolitics, and race in the Americas and throughout Atlantic geographies (Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas). He is also an avid Golden Girls fan and a connoisseur of 90’s R&B, Black films, and sitcoms.
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