If you breath air, have access to the internet (even if it’s at your local library), watch TV, read blogs, newspapers and are socially conscious in general, you are bound to have a ‘role model‘. Yes, role models are the nouveau thing now. If you don’t have a role model, you don’t belong to this ‘role model’ starved generation!
Dictionary.com defines a ‘role model’ as = (noun) a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
While the definition is crystal clear what a role model is, there is a major disconnect/misunderstanding with today’s generation/youth as to who a role model is. Growing up, my role models were my parents and a few people in authority who rose to their position despite opposition. These were individual who were doing well for themselves and had impacted society for generations to come. Society had not yet infringed upon the ‘role model franchise’ while I was growing up!
In today’s society, a cat, dog, pedophile could be labeled as a ‘role model’. What baffles me is where we missed the mark. It would seem an injustice in today’s society if one does not have a ‘role model’.
What happened to us as a people that made us desperate to align ourselves with every and anyone as ‘role models’?
If I were to list who I believe are role models for me, my list would consist of the following people:
- Madam C.J. Walker – the inventor/creator of beauty products for black women!
- Sojourner Truth – a women’s rights activist and abolitionist!
- Oprah – major contender in providing a platform for women of color to have a voice in mainstream America, among other accomplishments!
- Antonin Holy – Chemist/creator of Truvada (drug to prevent infection of HIV/AIDS)!
- Martin Luther King, Jr. – Political Activist partly responsible for the equality of races and segregation abolishment!
- Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Jim Crow – Anti-segregation/equal rights activists’!
- Bill Gates – a revolutionary software designer!
- Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the internet!
Each of the people I have listed, have created a legacy/platform for generations to come that have either secured the freedom of people, given people a voice, provided women with tools to beautify themselves with, and most importantly those things they created, fought for, are still currently in practice (relevant) in today’s society.
My understanding of a role model is one who fights for the rights of humanity, creates a voice/platform for humanity to express themselves, creates a tool all of humanity can benefit from.
My list, is of course much longer that the one listed, but the sole purpose is to provide an example of who I consider a role model and why.
I cannot and will never understand how an individual who has written a song that could be forgotten in a few years, classified a fashionista, appears on a reality TV show or the like be a role model to and for our young generation.
How has what they’ve created impacted society? How will it impact society 100 years from now? Does what they do or have done even have an impact?
Too many parents are failing in their roles are guardians and it has affected our youth in particular. I’m on social networks a lot due to researching content for KolorBlind Magazine, and I am in awe at the amount of tweets that read:
“You’re my role mode. I want to be like you when I grow up.”
“You’re my everything. I would die if you re-tweeted me.”
“I’m about to lose my mind. I can’t believe I’m chatting with you. I love you. You’re my role model.”
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong in admiring a person’s strength, courage, drive and persistence, I believe a lot of our youth do not understand the difference between admiration for a cause, admiration for longevity in a particular craft and the definition of a role model.
After professing their love for certain individuals, I’m always amused when said individual has a run-in with the law, or a major scandal is exposed and the so-called ‘role model wannabes’ feel betrayed. They are usually extremely taken with the event of things. I begin to question within me why they are so upset and disappointed. After all, this is your role model….the person you want to grow up to be!
I’m sure you are picturing several people in your minds who fit the ‘role-model’ description and who society has elevated on a golden pedestal to only fall flat on their face when they reveal their true selves.
Where did the obsession with role models come from? Why do people feel the need to idolize regular people?
I for one understand the importance of being motivated by people and circumstances. It has helped create a lot of things that would ordinarily not exist. It has helped propel people into moving forward. But we must stop with the ‘false elevation’ of certain individuals. 70% of the people who have been tagged ‘role models’ are not role models!
They have not created anything useful to humanity. Whatever it is they are currently doing most likely will have no effect 20 years from now not to talk of the next 100 years. They are not revolutionaries! They are not inventors! They are not political activists! They are merely people who have excelled in a particular craft and are somewhat good in their profession.
This is a ‘disease’ that has infiltrated our society and is affecting our youth. When someone says a rapper is their role model (I have nothing against rappers or against anyone’s craft), are you implying that your lifelong dream is to not finish school so you can rap? Has education suddenly lost its impact and meaning?
Without education, President Barack Obama would not be in the White House or hold a major public officiating role in government. Our youth grow up idolizing people whom if they ever considered running for public office, wouldn’t make it past their street.
How can we rectify this? I am not against those who work tirelessly in their craft, I admire their persistence and talent. I will not however idolize them. I can only admire and respect their craft.
This is an open-ended article, please feel free to share your thoughts.
- picking a role model… (myhrlife.com)
- MMA: Top 10 Role Models in the Sport Today (bleacherreport.com)
- 3 New Female Role Models (straykatstrut.wordpress.com)
- ‘Beyoncé is role model for my daughters’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The tendency of imitating others we admire plays a great role in our perception of life (syberian.org)