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How to Accept Help (if You’re Black)

Your education and your life are yours alone. What was given to you, in terms of encouragement and sacrifice, was probably given out of love in order for you to move forward in your life. Your suffering helps no one. It is up to you as an adult to decide how you want use your opportunities to make a contribution to your family and your community. Living for your unique vision of your future does not make you selfish. It makes you realistic, because it is the only sustainable way to live.

2. See That Helpers Like Helping

People attracted to the Helper positions, in which their job is to offer support and guidance, tend to be self-selecting. In other words, generally Helpers are people who like to help. As a professor and mentor, knowing I’ve been a small part of a student’s success in realizing their dream is a great feeling. By accepting help, you are allowing someone else to enjoy being a generous and empowering person.

1. Allow Opportunities to Produce More Opportunities

Each opportunity you have is mostly important because it is a path to greater opportunities. A great high school is a stepping stone to a well-resourced college, which can lead to an internationally known MFA program, etc. Anyone who refuses help increases the likelihood of ruining not just one chance, but all of the other chances that might flow from that one. Taking advantage of the support available to us maximizes future opportunities and our ability to create opportunities for others. Of course we can learn from failure. But we can do a lot more with success.

This April at Progressive Pupil, we celebrate Health and Wellness and have a special series on Afro-Asian Solidarity. Both topics illuminate how powerful we can be when we work together and accept the support we need.


Yours in Solidarity,


Robin J. Hayes, PhD

Principal Organizer


3 thoughts on “How to Accept Help (if You’re Black)

  1. An interesting topic. This is definitely significant because it speaks on a struggle that is not black and white, and at the same time is extremely applicable in the student’s everyday lives. Rather than speaking about a rule that must be changed or a concrete issue, it speaks about a problem that cannot be solved so simply.

  2. Unfortunately, a lot of things in this post rings true. Many of my African American peers do not seek help for their issues (at school or work) because 1. They don’t think that will get it because they are black 2. They don’t think there is help for them that exists 3. African Americans are taught that they have to be as independent as possible because relying on others who are not like us is weak/a mistake. A lot of the time these things are true. But, as it was stated in the blog, everybody needs help now and then. African Americans can still be independent and ask for a helping hand. Hopefully, more individuals in the African American community can learn this lesson and utilize whatever resources they can find or have available to them.

  3. I can only speak for the population I work with.. Which is disconnected youth between 18-24 living in Bushwick/Bed-Stuy (majority of them black). I have noticed that my youth simply don’t know that help exists because their whole life has been an obstacle that they don’t even know their are options out there for them. However, when my youth are aware that their are other options they are resistant because they don’t trust it. “Why should I try? It was never there before. It won’t work.. Nothing ever turns out the way it should.” It’s really heart breaking… Especially for a mentor such as myself that works with about 120 youth a year, and only a quarter of them learn that they don’t have to be 100% independent and asking for help is OKAY.

    A lot of this has to do with trust… The lack of it that these youth have….

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