Earlier this week I had a conversation with one of my girlfriends about how to confidently walk into Black womanhood and navigating criticism within our own community.
Oftentimes we perceive Black womanhood as a “struggle” which can hinder our ability to grow and evolve.
Personally, I felt the hurt in my friends voice as she described the negative reactions she received from loved ones for getting a new position after leaving her old one.
She and I were both puzzled as to why anyone would criticize her for trying to avoid “the struggle?”
We must first understand what, “the struggle” actually means from a critical Black perspective.
The struggle is a burden placed on Black women to be strong and never take breaks, to endure emotional traumas such as inequality, racial injustice, and sexual violence while suffering through it in silence.
But this is nothing new in fact since the era of slavery, the dominant view of Black women has been that “they should be workers, a view that contributed to their devaluation as mothers with caregiving needs at home.”
Not only are we expected to be overworked and devalued as women but we are constantly getting asked to perform to make others feel comfortable.
We strive to be the best employee, the best partner, the best friend, the best daughter but why can’t we be the best for ourselves?
If we don’t comply in social settings by smiling and greeting people who don’t acknowledge us first then we are labeled as “rude” or “not friendly.”
Likewise if we are too performative and bold then we are told to, “dial it back.”
These contradicting attitudes and beliefs can leave us feeling exhausted and powerless.
Another issue we face is when we come across a friend or relative who believes that if we’re not “struggling enough” to make ends meet at a young age we are abnormal.
This can be detrimental to our mental fortitude and physical health as well.
I think it’s time to stop performing for others and liberate ourselves from the struggle.
Suffering is not always necessary for growth.
You can learn every life lesson you need to know while having a good time in the process.
Rather than expecting Black women to suffer by embodying strength at all times and giving us no room for mistakes or growth, we should encourage Black female liberation.
Let’s normalize not glorifying “the struggle” for Black women.
I don’t have all the answers but I do know one thing.
We need to take action so that Black women don‘t feel obligated to isolate themselves from family, friends, and their communities.
I know because I’ve been there, I thought isolation was the answer to my problems but it actually created more.
Isolation can make it extremely difficult or to keep a job, juggle the emotional responsibilities of adulthood, and foster intimate relationships.
Instead if we can collectively encourage Black women to liberate themselves from the burden of, “the struggle” by asking for help and seeking treatment, this can instill better health and wellness within our community.
It all starts with us and we must give our Black girls access to the language and resources to build and maintain their personal wellbeing.
What other aspects of ”the struggle“ are you experiencing?
How can we normalize Black women liberation?
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