I recently stumbled across an article that was in Ebony magazine that was four years old but still very relevant. The author shared her thoughts on the question “Are black women killing themselves to be strong?” Wow! After reading the question, I knew immediately what this article was going to discuss. Are we killing ourselves by masking our weaknesses and flaws by proving to be strong? As I sat down to write this blog, it was quite natural for me to think about my life, my mother’s life, my sister’s and countless friends all who share the same common theme “we have to be strong because we have no other choice”. I’m not sure if this idea of the Black super woman cane from slavery when we witnessed our families being ripped apart from us and we felt powerless; or maybe it was during the Jim Crow era where Black women were violently raped as a form of domination and oppression; or maybe it is the current state of the Black woman that despite how many college degrees adorn on your wall, the credentials and accolades, we still are not viewed as good enough smart enough or worthy enough to hold certain positions or earn the credit and merit for accomplishments. A prime example of this has been seen in the world of social media in which rapper Lil Kim posted pictures of herself in which she looks like a white female. In the article in Essence magazine, Lil Kim shared that she has struggled with self-esteem issues and that “being a regular Black girl wasn’t good enough” so the next best thing is to change yourself into a white woman because that is more acceptable and Black men love you more if you’re white.
While little is probably known about where this title derived from, what is known is that Black women are literally killing themselves to be strong, perfect, unbothered, and powerful. Black women often struggle with suffering from severe mental health issues with trying to hold up this “Superwoman image”. Depression and anxiety rates among Black women tend to be 50% higher than those of Caucasian women. So what is this Super Woman image? It is the image to remain strong despite being afraid to acknowledge our fears, struggles, weaknesses, personal deficits, insecurities and pain. It is the image of feeling like we HAVE TO DO IT ALL… attending school, working full-time and part-time, being care-givers to our family and friends, raising kids all while trying not to neglect our own needs (which are often neglected anyway). Is it wrong for wanting to be strong and still very capable of maintaining balance and order in our lives? No. Being strong brings a sense of self-confidence and pride; however as women we also have to be able to know when enough is enough and to learn to say “No” and to practice self- care. What this conveys is that we are normal, we are human and that it is perfectly ok to not have to be the one who is always nurturing and comforting. Too many Black women are dying to be strong and battling serious mental and physical issues along the way. That it is ok to lean on others for support and encouragement; we cannot always do it all. Even Superhero’s have to put the cape down at times.sometime we have to realize