Vid of the Week: Lupita Nyong'o

You may have seen or heard about Lupita winning an Oscar this past Sunday and her great speech. What you may not have seen or heard about yet is her earlier speech when honoured by Black Women in Hollywood for Best Breakthrough Performance of 2013. Check it out!!

Lupita bravely describes her experience of 'self-loathing' and 'self-hatred". This is a common experience among those who feel that culturally accepted beauty does not look like them. These are feelings that have been expressed many times by people who do not see their culture or colour represented in the media or being celebrated. Persons actually come to despise their colour and culture because they feel inferior. Correction, they are MADE TO feel inferior by the standards that get held up in front of their eyes every day.

This experience gets magnified and multiplied when it is done with direct intent and purpose. In the case of Native North Americans, residential schools in Canada were still in existence into the 90s where the message was clear; "Your culture is inferior! Your language is inferior! Your religion in inferior! You are inferior!" The response of many is to believe the lies and begin to hate themselves, their culture, their colour etc... This is power of being told that you are 'bad' by nature of your culture and skin, while another is 'good' because of the nature of theirs.

This story also EXACTLY mirrors stories I have heard from many in the LGBTQ community. "I prayed to God every night that I would wake up and that my attraction to people of the same gender as me would be gone." They would wake up the next morning, and the attraction would still be there, and they would agonize about it. "WHY AM I THIS WAY?" "WHY CAN'T I BE NORMAL?" " GOD MUST HATE ME TO CURSE ME AND REFUSE TO CURE ME!" People learn to hate themselves, despise themselves because they become the target of rejection and ridicule and people who flat-out say, "There is something wrong with you!"

This is why it is so important for us to continue to fight against the standards that get held up as 'acceptable' or 'beautiful'. Any belief that we express through action or word that makes someone else despise themselves because of something that they did not choose and cannot change is an action or word of FEAR and not LOVE! Any action or word that makes someone else despise themselves because of whatever it is that makes them different from you/me/us/any cultural norm, is an action or word of FEAR and not LOVE!

You may think, "Well what about harmful things?" What about an addiction that someone has? What about a tendency towards violence or abuse? To that I respond, that making someone HATE and DESPISE themselves, even over addiction, or violence, or abuse is not going to create a healthy and healing pathway forward where transformation may occur.

Really, though, what I am talking about is creating that NEW WAY FORWARD TOGETHER! Where we recognize the beauty in all. All cultures, all shapes, sizes, shades and sexes. Where all are given the opportunity to be celebrated and to see others who look something like us get celebrated too! We need to turn our culture from one of exclusivity to one of celebration of ALL! Turn our culture from one that with a small, diminished concept of beauty, to one that is whole and large and draws people in.

Thank you Lupita for your vulnerability and courage!! Thank you for giving us another story that can help us find that better way forward together!

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