I’m sure most of you have seen Jesse Williams’s powerful acceptance speech after winning the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards on Sunday (6/26/16). He made two statements that I want to address in this post and both speak to the experiences of black women.
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real”
#BlackGirlMagic has been a wonderful; it empowers black women to embrace our power, beauty, strength, and ability to make something out of nothing. It is inspiring to look through the #BlackGirlMagic Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook posts and feel affirmed and inspired by other black women and proud of being a black woman. And, what William’s captured in his speech was the importance of recognizing that being magical does not make us any less real. As black women we bleed, hurt, feel pain, get anxious, depressed, and stressed like all other humans. “Don’t air your dirty laundry” has been a prevailing directive in the black community. This mandate was aimed at countering the negative portrayals of black people in order to help prevent violence and discrimination against us. However, we are still being treated poorly and continue to be portrayed in dehumanizing ways. One negative consequence of believing it is unacceptable to show signs of vulnerability or suffering is that some of us have internalized ideas that experiencing depression, anxiety, mood swings, etc. means that we are weak or worthless. In response, we feel shame about the difficult aspects of our human experience and are less likely to seek the help and support we need.
I felt emotionally distressed while watching Confirmation, which re-tells the story of the hearing on Anita Hill’s accusations that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. I was angered while watching the all-white, all male, senate judiciary committee imply that Hill’s story was untrue because she did not express a formal complaint sooner. I cringed at seeing black women protesting Anita Hill because we have been socialized to protect and support our black men, even at the cost of the well being of ourselves and our sisters. I was frustrated with the implication that because some people had positive experiences with Clarence Thomas, this meant that there was no way he could do something harmful. Overall, I was saddened as I was reminded of how common it is for sexual harassment to be dismissed as insignificant and how often we as women are forced to grin and bear it in order to keep our jobs, our reputations, and ourselves safe. Continue reading “Confirmation: Lessons about Sexual Harassment from Anita Hill’s Story”→
Being at the intersection of blackness and womanhood comes with unique stressors and pressures. One important step towards positive mental health is acknowledging the things that make life more difficult for us and then engaging in coping strategies to address this stress. This post will share an overview of unique challenges that black women contend with; many of these topics will be explored in depth in future blog posts. I grouped these stressors into a few common categories and include suggested coping mechanisms. Continue reading “Black Women and Stress”→