To respect is to look upon, so self-respect is a measure of how a person sees herself. It includes an emotional component, which is predominant in any gestalt view of a person. Self-respect is essential to personal health, growth and maturity.
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown, 2009).
- Langston Hughes, The Big Sea: An Autobiography (Hill and Wang, 1993).
- Robert Gordon, Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (Bloomsbury, 2013): about a form of music that promoted self-respect.
- Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations (Knopf, 2019): “ . . . even as she moves into the October of life, Morrison, quietly and without ceremony, lays another gem at our feet.”
- Grace Talusan, The Body Papers: A Memoir (Restless Books, 2019): “The sexual abuse started when she was 7 and ended when she was 13, after she waited for Tatang one evening and shoved him into the bedroom wall. Seeing the look of humiliation on his face, she knew that one form of torment was over: ‘My rage turned to joy.’”
- Melissa Febos, Girlhood: Essays (Bloomsburn Publishing, 2021): “The book is a feminist testament to survival: years of dehumanizing sex with boys and men, harassment by women, being stalked, drug addiction and what she describes as ‘a growing certainty about the ways in which I have collaborated in the mistreatment of my own body.'”
Jean-Michel Basquiat's surrealistic self-portraits suggest that he struggled with self-image and self-respect.
- untitled (Skull) (1984)
- Self-Portrait (1982)
- Boxer (1982)
- Self-Portrait as a Heel, Part Two (1982)
- Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict (1982)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Aretha Franklin, Respect
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, bwv 1008: (1) Prelude, (2) Allemande
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, bwv 1012: (4) Sarabande
Langston Hughes’ writing exudes a quiet but certain self-respect, influenced by his poor relationship with his father, of whom he said: "I had been thinking about my father and his strange dislike of his own people. I didn't understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much."
- Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage, 1995).
- Langston Hughes, The Ways of White Folks: Stories (Vintage, 1990).
- Langston Hughes, Short Stories: Collected Works, vol. 15 (University of Missouri Press, 2002).
- Langston Hughes, Not Without Laughter (1930), Hughes’ only novel, about a black boy’s awakening to the realities of life in a small Kansas town.
From the dark side:
- Abir Mukherjee, The Shadows of Men: A Novel (Pegasus Crime): “. . . there is a bitter aftertaste that lingers even more strongly, because the root of Banerjee’s discontent is the scourge of colonialist attitudes, and that cannot be washed away in a tidy resolution.”
Film and Stage
- Ghost World, a coming-of-age storycentering on two sarcastic teenage girls, one of whom draws attention from men while the other does not
- Umberto D, “the story of an old man’s struggle to keep from falling from poverty into shame”
- The Life of Oharu: reflections of a Japanese woman, whose self-image is defined by her livelihood of prostitution
- The Aparement, about a young man who learns to stand up for himself
- Pinocchio: on becominga “real boy”
- Boyz N The Hood, a flawed film with important thingsto say about self-respect
- Nebraska, about an elderly man whose life was clouded by alcohol and failure, and who obtains a little solace through his adult son’s grace and generosity
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Kenyan cultural music is unassuming yet assertive, conveying a sense of good feeling and internal assurance.
- Sam wa Kiambo
- Musaimo wa Njeri
- Queen Jane
- Sammy Irungu
- Joseph Kamaru
- Fundi Konde
- Daniel Owino Misiani
- Ayub Ogada
- Mighty King Kong
Leopold Weiss lute works:
- Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001-1006 (1720) (performances by Menuhin, Tetzlaff, Biondi, van der Ent, Bismuth, Fischer and Kavakos [1-3; 4-6])
- Widor, Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 13/4 (1872, rev. 1887)
- Lanzetti, Cello Sonatas
Consistent with his view of music in space and time, and the importance of giving space for silence, Roscoe Mitchell’s solo albums and live performances evoke the value of self-respect.
Books of poetry:
- Desiree C. Bailey, What Noise Against the Cane (Yale University Press, 2021) is “a lyrical and polyvocal exploration of what it means to fight for yourself”.