Do you ever de-valued just because you are a helper?

NBA player LeBron James answers questions duri...
NBA player LeBron James answers questions during a press conference after a preseason practice session Sept. 28, 2010, at the Aderholt Fitness Center at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The Miami Heat used the fitness center for their week-long training camp. James is a forward for the Heat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was in a brief discussion in the Black Nerds Facebook group that started out talking about  rude black women with advanced degrees. Since I work with several black women with advanced degrees, I spoke up. I also noticed a comment in the thread about how worthless it would be to spend $50,000 on a social work degree. I countered by talking about the value of social work in the many places where it is practiced. And my opponent countered with dollars and cents. Helpers in this society are not valued. To which I responded that shows an imbalance in our values.

Why are soldiers risking their lives paid a pittance of what LeBron James receives? Who contributes more to our society? Thousands of people are paying to wear LeBron’s Miami Heat jersey and no one is wearing the dog tags of last week’s wounded soldiers. You cannot buy a Teacher of the Year Bobblehead Doll. Somewhere, everyone has been touched by those of us in the helping professions. We teach, bandage your wounds, talk with you when you despair and comfort the afflicted. We are not STEM but in a lot of ways we provide the stem of life. We are helpers.

This society undervalues women and helpers by paying us less than we deserve. As a man I have tended to join female dominated professions probably because I was often at odds with our nation’s values. Jobs at home not wars abroad, as my cat would say. African-Americans are probably under-represented in the helping professions. When we need social work, therapy or a number of other helpers, we usually have to go to someone of a different background than our own. That’s not bad in and of itself but it helps to know where someone else has been in or to assist them. I hope that we will have veterans becoming therapists. I would like to see a young bright African-American male become inspired to want to become a psychologist. At a time when black people are disappearing from the work force, we need to be getting the tools that college degrees can provide. It’s not just a degree, it’s a whole network of opportunity. Reach out and help your fellow humans.



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