Self-Esteem in the African-American Community

Let’s get real deep about something that I believe is unique to the African-American experience. This is around a message that we as black Americans receive from our parents, caregivers, and other adults in our lives. The message is “You have to work 10x’s harder than any white person to get ahead”. Now this message has many variations but the gist of it, is that in order to get ahead and succeed you have to work hard and be the best. Wrapped up inside this message, is the more subtler message that struggling or fighting is apart of life.  More to the point is the expectation that even when you move ahead that you still will not be seen as good enough.  Although the message is supposed to be uplifting and there to help African-Americans understand the reality of our experience in America, it can also play with a person’s self-esteem.

I don’t know if other minorities have similar talks with their children but this is a message most of us black folks hear our whole lives. It can feel empowering, to succeed when everything is stacked against you. To know you’ve worked 10x’s harder and you have something to show for it. Yet often times, you still feel an emptiness, hollow inside. There’s still a piece of you that questions your value or your worth. You might even feel guilt about the material goods you have when comparing yourself to others who have less. 

Having to work so hard all the time, in the face of micro-aggressions, overt and covert racism is exhausting. It takes a toll on the mind and body. The hypervigilance of it all, always being on guard, high levels stress, lead to physical and mental health problems.  So where can you turn when you are tired of fighting? To get to a place where you can eel happy and content in your life with what we have done and achieved? To truly have high self-esteem, feel high value in yourself, love and nurture yourself?


Here are some ways to boost your self-esteem when you are struggling:

1. Take a moment and reflect upon your accomplishments. Create a list if need be but really hone in on what your goals were, the steps you took to make them and why you felt they were important to you.

2. With your list of accomplishments, read through them and check in with how you feel about them. Allow yourself to feel pride in what you have done. 

3. With your list of achievements then take a look at your character traits. The special gifts you have that make you, you. 

4. Create an Affirmation that highlights your strengths. 

5. Say your affirmations daily, while looking in the mirror if need be. 

Self-esteem really is the core to everything. It’s one’s identity and how they feel about this. It’s your beliefs and values. Self-esteem also dictates the decisions you make, most notably in relationships with others. When you’re constantly climbing the mountain, even with a destination in sight or even when you reach the top, you may feel emptiness, guilt and shame. But with the right tools and a subtle shift in mindset this can change. You can feel happy, proud, whole, etc being who you are and achieving the goals you have set for yourself. 

These are just a few strategies, tips, and recommendations! I hope you found this post helpful! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

Thank you for taking the time to read. Remember sharing is caring, so share if you found this helpful!

Until we connect again,


If you have any questions or would like to talk to learn more about Relational Trauma Therapy, feel free to reach out any time by visiting my contact page.

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Chana Ceasar

Chana Ceasar

Hi I'm Chana and I am a licensed therapist specializing in treating sexual abuse and other traumas. Whether you are pregnant survivor, a parent of a survivor or an adult survivor of sexual abuse or complex trauma I am here to support you on your healing so you can love yourself, find your empowered voice, and have the relationships you desire.

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