Jo Rhett (jorhett) wrote,
Jo Rhett

How belief in yourself is framed by other's expectations of you.

Far too often I have conversations with people where the other person feels that they have been given no special privilege, that any other person could be just as successful as they were. These people invariably grew up with middle-class or better backgrounds. They were surrounded by successful people who expected them to be successful. They truly have no idea how much this contributed to their success.

I came from a very different background. My friends and I lived in the ghetto. We were surrounded by different beliefs--nobody believed in our success. We all saw our parents slaving away at two or three jobs and just barely holding on. We saw belief in our coming fall reflected in the eyes of every person we interacted with.

Ta-Nehisi finally put to it words, in the intelligent and beautiful manner only he can:

What your country tells you it thinks of you has real meaning. If you see people around you acquiring college degrees and rising only to work as Pullman porters or in the Post Office, while in other communities men become rich, you take a certain message from this. If you see your father being ripped off in the sharecropping fields of Mississippi, you take a certain message about your own prospects. If the preponderance of men in your life are under the supervision of the state, you take some sense of how your country regards you.

Ta-Nehisi is mostly speaking about how race plays into this, but he has spoken often about how racism and classism are interwoven in this country. Each of these will play into how others perceive you, and the mirror through which you are taught to see yourself. His entire article is worth reading, and can be found at

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