Rooting for the Underdog

By: Ke’Ana Lampkins

In most inspirational movies, the main character is someone who has gone through a series of unfortunate events and endured great lengths of pain and struggle.

Most times the main character is someone who has overcome great lengths of pain and hurt. It would be easy for this character to lament, even wallow over the struggle and frustration in their lives. And for a moment or two they usually do, but never for long. Examples of this underdog, if you will, would be Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness, Gabourey Sidibe in Precious, Stephan James from If Beale Street Could Talk, all of the leading ladies from Hidden Figures and For Colored Girls and my personal favorite Salli Richardson from Antwone Fisher. There are way more examples than those of which I gave.

In all of these examples, the lead character faced some type of tragedy, injustice, adversity, assault, abuse, or discrimination. None of these characters, some of which are true stories, are superheroes. They did have moments of weakness, where they felt they couldn’t accomplish the goal at hand, or that they couldn’t go on after facing their trials. Or in some situations that they could even overcome their adversities in the first place.

But one thing all these characters had in common is perseverance. No one is saying that life will be easy. And no one is certainly saying that you won’t get tired. But if you gain the perspective on life that you are a victim it will become difficult to become a victor. In all of these individuals, they had to overcome their tragedies in their minds first. They had to overcome or even avoid the victim mindset that is tempting to settle in when facing trials specific to injustice and abuse.

It is a certain helplessness that arises from the pain of the situation. You can be so moved with grief that it can become possible to remove yourself from your life where you feel you are merely a bystander and have no power over your future or your situation. In other words, you can start to feel that the world is against you, or start to believe that your life is doomed.

Think about how these movies would end if the character decided to allow themselves to be engulfed by their grief, by their sadness, or even by their defeat. What if Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happiness) had stayed down in his feelings of inadequacy? What if he had not had enough tenacity to learn the trade of being a broker? We can ask these same questions for every movie we love with an underdog.

I do think it’s important to point out that in every one of these stories they had support. Whether it was a family or friend or encouraged them or even a therapist or a social worker who helped them work through the pain. This is not work that you need to do alone. Sometimes you can receive adequate support through family and friends. But oftentimes we need more professional support when working through baggage and past hurts and how they impact us.

Black Girl, you are the underdog. You are the star of your movie, of your story. You may be feeling down, you may be feeling like the world is not on your side. But whatever you are fighting for, keeping fighting. The world needs your gift, your talent, your life. Feel the pain, don’t ignore it, but don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the pain. Use the pain to fight back and to become something greater than even you can imagine. Don’t give up, and don’t give in. You matter.

Ke’Ana Lampkins is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC. Ke’Ana is a Christian, wife, and mother dedicated to empowering young girls and women through counseling, mentorship, and education. Connect with her on Instagram @Beautifully_Yanni

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