The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
Why you shouldn’t let what you look like hold you back in life
I’m, by way of pure statistics, one of the top writers on Medium. I make a six-figure living as an author and blogger. Millions of people read my work each year.
Oh yeah, I also happen to be black.
Let me tell you some other facts about me — facts that most people would call disqualifiers to living a successful life:
- I was on felony probation for five years
- I’ve been arrested multiple times
- Even though I came from a middle-class upbringing, I ran my life into the ground and had to rebuild from the position of being a broke felon black male working a labor job at $10/hr
According to many people in society, that’s where my story should end. I mean, look at my demographic — the black male.
Does my category have a significantly high rate of failure and problems in life? Yes.
Are there systemic reasons why this happens? Duh.
Do forces outside of your control, particularly what you look like, shape a part of your life? Obviously.
But why does that mean we should aim lower by default?
I was never raised with low expectations. It didn’t matter what I looked like, success what just expected of me.
My mom grew up in Milwaukee, WI, which is still the most segregated city in the united states, smack dab in the middle of the period of deep racism — anyone who claims things are getting worse now…is just not very smart.
She grew up in a bad neighborhood. A neighborhood most progressive people literally wouldn’t walk down. Her mom was illiterate. Her dad worked a labor job. Yet, somehow, she managed to graduate. I’ve told the story before her dad’s solution to fighting an uphill battle as a little black girl — he got her a library card and told her to read every single book in the library. Problem solved.
Here’s a quote from that article:
I was never raised to be a victim by either of my parents. They wanted to see us do better. Going…