The words “Strong”, “Black” and “Woman” are used both as a compliment, and, if you’re a fan of the book “Too Heavy a Yoke” by Chanequa Walker-Barnes, as a warning.
The compliment is given to African-American women who are Caretakers, Nurturers, and Healers. From the beginning of time, she’s honored others and denied herself – as a group, they’ve tried so hard to be what others want and need. We – for I am one of you – lose sight of our own gifts and needs, confuse our identities, and bury our goals.
The warning is included because the majority of the African-American women described by the term often don’t understand or notice the negative effects of living out the stereotype until it’s almost too late. We often neglect personal needs to take care of others. Family, friends, co-workers – the list goes on and on. We are legendary – caregivers of extraordinary strength and emotion, who also are expected to suffer without complaint and suppress anything that contradicts the image we project.
We ignore or dismiss symptoms of physical distress – we overwork and experience stress-related health consequences:
- Lack of sleep and / or lack of quality sleep
- Emotional and Binge eating that helps accumulate excess weight and it’s attendant health consequences
- Smoking as a stress reliever, with deadly consequences (heart disease, respiratory problems, cancer)
We equate love with self-sacrifice, self-denial and self-abrogation – invalidating and nullifying our own experiences and creating a dangerous environment. We believe we are less important, less valuable, and less essential that other human beings.
We’ve been taught that self-denial is more virtuous and desirable than egocentricity, that humility is more desirable than pride, and all of this combines to trap and imprison Black / African-American women in an endless cycle where we must prove our self-worth – through the suffering and the silence.
It’s time for that to change!
It’s time to take the non-working definition of the StrongBlackWoman and expose it for what it is – a LIE.
It’s time that StrongBlackWomen be empowered to know, express and value their authentic selves – free to be who they are and to embrace themselves in all their unique and wonderful fullness – including anger, joy, vulnerability and even frailty.
We need to admit we can’t do it all, that we need others.
We need to be free to live into our divine gifts and exercise those gifts without apology on behalf of ourselves and others.
We need to release the unrealistic expectations of emotional strength and regulation.
We need to release the learned habit of caring for others at the expense of our own needs.
We need to reclaim freedom of choice and CHOOSE whether we want to embody the StrongBlackWoman…or NOT.
If you are ready to release the StrongBlackWoman archetype and all the aspects of it that do not serve you…
If you are ready to learn about methods of healthy and do-able self-care…
Then come along with me on this journey, and we’ll learn more about StrongBlackWomen and how they came to be, what we can keep and what we can release from that archetype, and how to live healthier, less stressful lives while celebrating all that we are.
Take the next step HERE.