A successful African American businessman stand on top of graph arrow using his telescope looking how high he is.
Cover Image © Visual Generation

My Black Perspective #20: Potential

As diversity in America continues to shift, one has to wonder about the future potential of the growing minority population. While I’m only speaking from the Black perspective on this topic, I can’t help but feel like what I’m going to say in this post (very quickly, might I add) applies across the board to some degree.

(Public) Black Self-Esteem Has Changed

Based on what I’ve learned about Black History and my own family history, Black People have always been a proud group of people. The issue, however, was that Black pride wasn’t so welcomed in the public. Everything a Black person did in fact was, at some point, met with open aggression and scrutiny from outside of (and sometimes from within) their race if it rose too high above their station. As all of this was happening – I’d imagine the self-esteem of Black People overall took a hit in the public eye. Proud at home, but doing what was needed to survive when not at home (e.g. swallowing pride) became routine.

And while some would rightfully argue that the forms of aggression and scrutiny toward Black People I mentioned in the previous paragraph still exist today, I’d say it is to a far greater, and less blatant, degree.

You see, Black People didn’t quit. And they passed down a vital secret through the generations that I think a recent-ish article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes very succinctly…

“Our research suggests that success in the face of systemic discrimination often begins with affirming one’s own potential. When people believe in their ability to grow, they make decisions that reflect this conviction, such as investing in their potential, focusing on their unique strengths, and discovering new paths to success and fulfillment that align with their core values and leadership goals.”

HBR: “Success Comes from Affirming Your Potential” (Nov 2019)

Black parents continued to encourage their kids potential, even if the world didn’t.

I think that action, plus a change in public sentiment toward minority achievement (very reflective of the changing demography of the U.S.) has created a perfect storm that more than allows Black pride and perseverance to be on full display. Some may say that it’s even encouraged now.

What This Means for Black Potential

In a nutshell, pride is tied to boldness in my eyes. Once one is allowed to take (a healthy amount) pride in ones work and interests, potential flourishes because you have the boldness to pursue some degree of mastery. I really don’t think Black People had this opportunity before in America like they do now. That is just my opinion, but I really do feel like – based on everything I’ve read and been told – that potential was suppressed and discouraged by the non-Black (read: White) public in the past. A lot has changed.

So… to put Black Potential in perspective… I want you to do the following:

Imagine the most skilled Black athletes or entertainers you can think of (LeBron, Beyoncé, etc.) Think of their talent. Now, imagine that talent in any field a Black person pursues (encouraged or not).

That’s what I think is coming. Historically, Black People have been more than allowed to rise in the realms of sports and entertainment by America. It was so “ok”, that now Black athletes are prevalent and dominant in leagues such as the NBA and NFL; Black entertainers regularly run pop charts and their musical stylings are emulated all around the world by people of many different races. This is great, and I’m not saying these things with any intention of reducing the accomplishments in those fields. But, now we’re encouraged to do more.

I think we’ll see the fruits of this cultural shift more and more as time goes on. More Black artists, thinkers, women in STEM, company leaders, medical professionals, politicians, tech mavens, teachers, organization representatives, lawyers & judges, designers, and so on.

A group of well-dressed young Black professional going down stairs together.

The ranks in fields all over will begin to look a little more colorful as years advance. I feel like I’m a part of this great dawn of potential, and I hope many others do as well (not just Black People).

I’ve spent the last few posts covering how Black People, as a collective group, are objectively at the bottom of a lot of economic measures in the United States. Well, when you’re down at your lowest lows – there’s kind of nowhere else to go but up. No better time to “go get it” than the present.

The future will tell whether I’m right or wrong.

Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Visual Generation (Shutterstock)
– Body Image © UfaBizPhoto (Shutterstock)

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Created by Alex Volkov