Being the Strong Black Woman is Mentally Exhausting & On top of that I’m a Mother

The topic of race has become so taboo in this country that, when it is brought up, people think you are playing victim or creating a division, that despite their ignorance to it, already existed. People repeatedly say, stop making everything about race, as if we wake up each day and say, “Oh, how can I throw my race into the mix today!”. It is insulting, to put it simply.

Recently, the subjects of “protecting our women” and “protecting our Black women” have began to circulate, not as if we didn’t matter before, but just on a larger platform. What angered me about this is that, I just didn’t understand why hundreds of years post slavery, we are still saying things like, “Protect our Black Women”.

I recently watched an episode of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Red Table Talk, where she talks about how she was much harder on her daughter Willow than her son Jaiden. She emphasized the importance of Willow being “on top of things”, because as a Black Woman, nothing would be easy for her. The sad reality is that, while by societal standards, women are looked at as being lower on the totem pole than men, black women are held even lower on that totem pole. White women at least have some form of inherited privilege, regardless of socioeconomic status, that still places them in a standing above Black women. It is appalling that in 2020, we are still having these conversations.

Everything from our hair, to our curves, to the way that we dress is subject to criticism and this overt need to seek approval. The irony of the criticism is that when you look around, our very image has influenced mainstream culture. Women are paying to achieve these curves that we have been judged for. Braids are now “cultural” when someone else wears them but “ghetto” when we do it. Dreadlocks are “artistic expression” but on us, they are nappy. Having big lips is something to be mocked for, but lip injections are ok, as long as the person getting them is not a Black woman.

The most exhausting part is that when we are not competing with women who do not look like us, we are competing with each other, as if all shades of Black women are not beautiful. We are competing and tearing each other down over whose hair is “good” and whose “more melanated”. Why is it so hard to love Black women for who they naturally are? Why do we have to prove that we are good enough to everyone around us? Then, while fighting everyone else, we have to then prepare our sons for the prejudice they will receive and our daughters for the criticisms that will be thrown their direction.

Black women are beautiful! Black women are intelligent! Black women are Royalty! Black women are magical! Black women are Strong! Black women are NOT just angry and full of attitudes! Black women are good mothers! Black women are phenomenal in every way!

People talk about the importance of realizing mental health red flags in the community, but fail to see how the racial prejudice in the world can impact mental health as well. One of my favorite episodes of “Lovecraft Country” is where Ruby turns herself white so for just one day, she can forget how mentally draining it is to walk around as a Black woman. She then realizes that there is power in her being a Black woman and that wanting to step on the other side of that privilege is not what she really wants. While we learn to love and find value in ourselves, we have to be strong enough to teach our black sons and daughters to also love and value themselves because society does not. My children go from the adorable kids at the park to target practice by the time they are 12 and I have to prepare them for that. While I in no way want to diminish the worries and stressors of mothers of all beautiful colors, it will never be on the level of a Black mother in America.

My brother once told a story of him and his girlfriend (who is Caucasian), being pulled over and the fear that went through his mind, of a young black boy driving at night with a White girl in his car. If my brother were White and his girlfriend were Black, do you think the same fear would have set in? The idea that on top of every other responsibility we have as women and as mothers, we also have to add on an extra lesson just because we are Black is tiresome. The negative stereotypes we have to fight on a daily and the assumptions we have to prove we don’t fit can take a toll that the outside eye cannot always see, because we HAVE TO BE STRONG.

There is this idea that being ourselves makes us less acceptable to those who do not look like us, but assimilating to fit a standard makes us “not black enough” to those that do. We carry so much on our backs and no one is running to lift that weight off. I don’t know how many times I have said to my children’s father, “I don’t want to be a stereotype and neither will our children” or “You are acting just the way people believe we are”. It’s so tiresome attempting to keep up, while slowly losing yourself in the process. You start to question, “Why am I seeking your approval? Is my Black not good enough for you?”.

The reality is, Being a Black woman is not really that mentally exhausting. I love who I am, what I look like, every curve, every dimple, every sway of my hips, and everything that makes me, ME! So again, I tell myself…

Black women are beautiful! Black women are intelligent! Black women are Royalty! Black women are magical! Black women are Strong! Black women are NOT just angry and full of attitudes! Black women are good mothers! Black women are phenomenal in every way!

Being a Black women is not exhausting. Trying to be anything but the Beautiful, Magical, Strong, Phenomenal, Intelligent, and Royal Black woman that I AM, is what is exhausting. If I can teach my kids to love and value their Blackness, then I have done my job as their mother.

12 replies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s