You’ve either met or heard about them. Narcissistic lovers, overly belligerent law enforcement officers, ruthless business people, physically abusive mates, vindictive discussion group administrators, horrific employers and the list continues.
The iron-fisted behavior of these maladjusted types have a number of influences, including capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. These influences also include (often traumatic) childhood and other life experiences.
In the interest of providing some relief from such tyrants and in preventing new ones from developing, I offer the following for your consideration.
Parents: Hug and patiently reassure your children. Refuse to coddle them or dismiss their indiscretions and shortcomings. Discipline them without crushing their bodies or spirits. Tell and show them how valuable they are.
Teachers: Empower your students with skills and knowledge and give them a sense of infinite possibilities.
Peers: Don’t tease, bully ridicule or brutalize them. Don’t break their hearts, embarrass them or reject their romantic intentions too harshly.
Elders: Teach them humility, discipline, forgiveness and empathy. Knowledge of their history and culture wouldn’t hurt either.
Coaches: Teach them how to win and lose with dignity and give them some playing time even if they suck. Remind them that winning or conquering others is not the greatest objective, but mastering themselves.
…Or else he or she may grow up to be become a petty adults riddled with insecurity, vindictiveness, and deep feelings of inadequacy who need constant praise to fill bottomless inner voids.
They may grow up needy, weak, argumentative, violent and bitter.
They may enter professions, relationships, community groups and other spaces not to serve and empower, but to exert control and dominance over others and attempt to inflict on them the pain they’ve endured all their lives.
Such individuals exist in our communities, in high and low places, creating chaos, hostility and ugly vibrations around them because they feel weak and insignificant but overcompensate with posturing, insulting rhetoric, bravado, punitive behavior and pettiness with others.
Never forget that empowered people empower others, while hurt people, HURT… PEOPLE.
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment.
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.