Iyanla Vanzant on Shedding Self-Hate

The self-help guru talks about reality star Evelyn Lozada and the common challenges that women face.

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After one of the Lifeclass shows, which aired once a week for six weeks, she said to me, "You know, you really need your own show." And I said, "Really? You know, I'm OK." And she said, "No, you need your own show." That was it. So we started working on the concept [of this new show] last year.

IV: What I've noticed with people of color is that they don't know the truth of who they are. They don't have an authentic experience or an authentic sense of themselves.

We wear masks, titles and labels. And we don't know how to be people. We know how to be doctors, lawyers, mothers, girlfriends and boyfriends, but we don't know how to be vulnerable, joy-filled, peace-filled people and give other people permission to do the same thing. I don't limit that to African Americans. That's a human condition.

TR: What about black youths? What's your take on what's going on with them?

IV: The adults in the African-American community, we abandoned our children a long time ago. Trayvon Martin is just one of the many. And when I say abandoned, I mean the interests and the needs of our family. So we stopped paying attention to what was going on with our children in school.

We didn't make noise when the community centers were taken away, and we did nothing when we started seeing how they're portraying our young women half-naked on videos. And we silenced [the ones like] C. Delores Tucker [who spoke against it] for free enterprise.

TR: How do you change that?

IV: [When] we remember how to be people [it will change]. People serve one another, take care of and look out for one another. That's what people do at their basic core. We become people in the midst of tragedy.

We remembered on 9/11 and during [Hurricane] Katrina that we were people. We became people during those times because they reminded us that we're all connected, none of us is immune, and what happens to you matters to me. And until we can remember that, until I can look at you and say, "I'm not my sister's keeper, I am my sister." Until we get that, we're going to keep dying.

TR: You work a lot with mothers and daughters. What are some of the biggest challenges they face?