The “strong black woman” is a stereotype that’s as pervasive in media as it is in real life. But this superwoman syndrome could be adversely affecting black women’s health.
Put Down Your Cape: Solving the Black Superwoman Syndrome
How to practice self-care in a world that shows us otherwise\
We live in dire times where racial friction, political pressure and racial socialization equally remind us just how uncomfortable it is being a Black in American.
Sorrowfully, turbulent times don’t always foster unity. In the case of the Black community at the height of obvious madness and distress, we have never been more united and divided than we are now.
For every commitment to collaborate, protect and empower one another, there is an opposite conversation happening. This dialogue is often crude and biting and positions Black men and women as opponents more than companions. Black women are vocally infuriated with Black men. Black men are continuously frustrated with Black women. It appears as if we are publicly attacking each other for sport. Both parties are out for blood and neither team is willing to lay off the defense. This makes it nearly impossible to hear the authentic messages being presented.
We are more focused on winning the debate than we are on learning how to resolve the problem.
The lack of concern around how to produce loving, yet radical change continues to breed misunderstandings among the Black man and woman. This common misunderstanding has left Black women wearing the scarlet letter of “A” for angry. Our disconnected dialogue has contributed to Black women being branded as being resentful, vulgar and irate. The most discouraging part about being labeled “angry” is that it completely disregards the plight of Black women.
Pressuring women to dismiss what we feel downplays our experiences. These very events are often the source of our emotional sternness. We must stop ignoring how taxing it is to be a Black woman in America. We are not indignant, we are exhausted.
Black women have a lengthy history of secretly carrying the burden of traumatic and harmful experiences from childhood into adulthood and from generation to generation. Yet, we are always pushed to be resilient and to survive in silence. The mentality that Black women are naturally strong and should continue to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps with a smile is harmful.
Yes, we are survivors, but we shouldn’t have to constantly be at war to prove that we can’t be defeated. This warrior mindset makes it complicated for Black women to lower out defenses. Every day feels like a fight and we must always be prepared. The question arises, who protects the Black woman?
We are often left trying to rescue ourselves with little to no aid. The, “strong Black woman” narrative is both empowering and devastating. Black women are reared to believe that we have superhero attributes. Our special power? The ability to take on the weight of the world and not fold. Black women are not only tending to their homes, raising our children and overworking to provide, but we are also attempting to defend our divinity in a society that considers us to be less than.
It is draining being a Black woman. Our exhaustion and stress is often perceived as anger. It is hard to feel sheltered in this world and that cultivates fear. We must always be prepared for the worst. That heightened level of defensiveness leaves little room for the free spirited and energy that is often recognized and praised when expressed by women of other races.
Without assuming the role of damsel in distress, Black women simply want someone to save Superwoman.
However, if no one ever comes to the rescue, it is vital that the Black woman learns how to save herself.
Give Yourself the Love You Extend to Others
You ask a woman what she loves about herself and often she will have an outpour of admiration for everyone in her life. Why? Because we are trained to believe that noble women sacrifice it all for others. While there is beauty in giving yourself to charity, at no point should you relinquish so much of who you are to others to the point where you are depleted. Without internal compassion and dedicated time for restoration, you will continuously push yourself to the brink of insanity. Make self-love a priority. Reserve the means and the time to pamper yourself. Give yourself the things you desperately need in order recharge and refocus.
Refuse to Rationalize Unhealthy Relationships
The idea that life is innately going to include pain and suffering is a damaging belief that we must be committed to releasing. Black women stomach entirely too much. We allow uninspiring and toxic people, habits, experiences and energy to take refuge in our spirits. We must break our need to justify mistreatment. A vital element of self-care is refusing to condone negativity. Your life has undeniable worth and until that is acknowledged, uncaring souls will physically and mental invade your holy space.
Be Willing to Feel
Our fortitude should not be defined by our ability to withstand an immense amount of pain and suffering without breaking. We have to eradicate every ideology that supports the idea that strength is being emotionally blocked. We barricade our vulnerable side and refuse to be emotionally free. Positive self-regard is the ability to open yourself up and experience your feelings while exchanging with others in an enriching way.
Growth is Intentional
Self-love is the process of intentionally directing energy towards your advancement. It is not natural, but cultivated through labor. When you are defining your ideal life, you should ensure that you are not dismissing your personal goals and dreams for the sake of advancing others. There is a way to meet the expectations and demands of your home life and still give yourself permission to pursue your own selfish endeavors.
Save Your Sister
We have a duty as Black women to empower one another, but it is imperative that you put your gas mask on first. You must save yourself before you attempt to save others. When you get to a destination where you are emotionally and mentally out of harm’s way, decide how to go back and rescue your sisters. Life changing knowledge should be in constant rotation between Black women, so if you have information that can help revive and replenish the spirit and mind of a woman, share it willingly.
Jazz Keyes is a clinical psychologist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @jazzkeyes.