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Black Women in America

I think we’ve already faced it. We continue to be hit with it every single day in some capacity. Whether or not these are personal experiences or if this is secondary trauma, black women hold a very unique space and narrative in American history. Black women are the most unprotected, devalued, and disregarded group of people in America. The notion continues to be validated every single day. Whether you’re a black councilwoman inappropriately ridiculed for your appearance when you decide to wear “fake eyelashes” or if you have been publicly demonized for courageously sharing your experiences of being a victim of domestic violence until proof shows you being beaten by a rap mogul in the hallway on a hotel camera.

History dictates a narrative of beaten, bruised, and fragility for the black woman. What she really is; speaking from experience, is strong, resilient, and quite frankly, she’s tired. The black woman is tired of the microagressions, the blatant disrespect, and being looked over for whatever reason your white great grandpa in congress comes up with tomorrow. This tremendously takes a toll on our mental health, consistently having us second guessing our competency and efficacies. Here are a few ways I encourage my black women clients to combat being held at such a poor standard in America.

1.     Go to therapy. This will never not be a thing for us. Therapy serves many purposes to include, creating safe spaces to process, breakdown, be vulnerable, heal, and grow, amongst other things. Therapy should be part of your self-care routine whether you attend on a weekly basis, or you have successfully graduated to maintenance sessions on a monthly basis. At some point in your life, therapy is warranted to minimally be a sounding board for life stage changes that happen to 100% of people. Historically, people have associated going to therapy as being for the weak, for those who have something “wrong” with them. Therapy is designed, if done right, to empower, release hurt and trauma, and to help create emotionally aware, well-rounded people. This is especially needed for the black woman. Going to therapy is a must.

2.     Confront. This is another way of teaching people how to treat you. If someone mispronounces your name, correct them every single time. If they ask you for an alternative name you may go by, do not oblige. If someone invades your personal space by touching your hair without any kind of permission, address it. Heck, if they even ask to touch your hair because they are intrigued, let them know why that is highly inappropriate and it goes against your personal boundaries. If you feel you were passed over for an opportunity or are being unfairly treated in comparison to your white counterparts because of your physical appearance, speak up! Whatever the disparaging offenses are against you, confront it every single time. Be sure to advocate for yourself and with the discomfort it may come with, process it with your therapist.

3.     Be confident even if you do not always feel confident. Being a black woman is rewarding and a lot of times, it is stressful. Being in spaces with other back women who share in similar experiences and plights, will help encourage you to be confident in who you naturally are. But what about when you are in spaces with people who do not all look like you, or who do not all share similar cultural experiences?  Being in these spaces may make you feel uncomfortable but the more you step into these spaces, the more you build your confidence. Even if you feel unsure of yourself in certain rooms, “don’t let them see you sweat”. Even if you may be second guessing your competency, measuring your worth in that moment against what you perceive to be true about other people in that room who may not look like you, hold your head high and just do the thing. Obviously, you were placed in that room for a reason, so this is your chance to own it and prove your worth to no one else but yourself. Going to therapy will also help build your confidence in these spaces.

Being black in America can be exhausting. Being a black woman in America is a struggle I know too well. I also know that being a black woman is “lit”. It has many rewards, so much so that unfortunately, we too experience cultural appropriation. Although the wrong way to go about it, I would say that is simply an inappropriate way to compliment us on our many talents and gifts. Nonetheless, with all this greatness, we have to be sure to take care of ourselves in such a complicated and unforgiven nation that has historically wanted to see us fail. Be intentional.

-by Chelsea Glover-Jordan

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