When It Hits Home…
An article entitled “5 Things White Women do That Black Women Can’t Get Away With" came across my dash and, of course, I had to click-and-see. When I read through it, none of the content was surprising but what did kind of catch me off guard was how the last point clicked for me. Something I’ve been living with but never fully identified. This one short piece solves a lot of the mystery that has been my life in ways that would take all day for me to explore and delve into here. But I’m sharing because I know I’m not alone.
Black Women Are Not Expected to be Emotionally Vulnerable
Black women’s resilience dates back to the dawn of humanity and it was called upon during the painful history of enslavement and racial oppression, where they were subjected to abuse, violation and exploitation. Black women learned to survive dehumanizing conditions by becoming skilled in the balancing act of appeasing her slave master by complying with his demands, while still making sacrifices to meet the needs of those who were dependent upon her.
Researchers have suggested that the cultural expectation of fortitude in African-American women fuels the myth of the “strong Black woman,” which compels her to push for unrealistic levels of self-sacrifice, self-denial and ensuing emotional distress. White women have not had to bear this cultural burden.
Dana Stringer argues in her EURweb article, “Hidden Dangers of Being A ‘Strong Black Woman,” that because Black women are not permitted to be transparent about their personal suffering, the internalizing of pain, disappointment and unmet needs have greatly contributed to the “anxiety, stress, fatigue, anger, uptightness, irritability, insomnia, overeating, addiction, shame, guilt and depression” that so many of them suffer. This poses one of the greatest threats to their health and overall quality of life.”