by Isaac Lomax, 17
A young black male, age 17, College-bound. And yet, I’m still expected to fall within the confines of society. Stereotypes serve as the crux of my existence as I struggle to survive in this world. Loving myself wasn’t something that I was expected to do, and somehow I gained the ability to do so. Lack of a father figure, broken home, poor grades: I fit the bill perfectly. I engaged in self-destructive behavior and my future looked bleak. After the loss of a loved one, my older sister’s words resonated within me. “To love others, you must love yourself”.
Love is one of the most tricky words in the english language. The essence of the word itself encompasses feelings from interpersonal affection to materialistic pleasure. To me, it’s considered a virtue, representing kindness, compassion, and affection towards oneself or others. To be radical is to change the nature of something from a fundamental basis. In a society where we all mirror each other as far as showing each other love, Radical love is hereby defined as loving yourself unconditionally. Not what you’ve done as a person, but who you represent. Self love is an act of radicalization.
While living in the oppressive status quo that has institutions in place against us such as the criminal justice system and immigration system , love has been taken out of the equation for the sake of vicious cycles of violence. I’ve had instances where I oftentimes do what others do just to fit in, like listening to the same music and playing sports. Radical love acts as a liberative tool, freeing us from mental bondage, i.e the status quo. As I write this post, i realize how bizarre this may seem to the everyday person. We have certain factors that also helps dictate our realities. Skin color, economic conditions, and living conditions tell us what we should like and dream for. Self-love is the uplifting tool that acts as our saviour, enabling us to transcend these conditions. In some cases, we are guided by our media, our family, our friends. Self love teaches one to make the decision to move beyond, as well as thinking on a broader spectrum and solving issues to help others. It negates the “-isms”, while promoting growth as an individual as well as a group. Once we are able to love ourselves, we can move forward as a society.