Black women, do you ever feel like you are fighting a racial and gender battle every time you face the world? Do you feel an obligation to present an image of strength and to suppress your emotions?
Black women have played a pivotal part in every movement marked in American history. For instance, black women were behind the Civil Rights Movement, Women's Liberation Movement, LGBTQ+ Movement, and now more than ever, the Black Lives Matter Movement.
I hope you were able to grasp the importance of the keywords used when describing the involvement of black women during these movements. Black women have been “behind” these movements both literally and metaphorically.
They have been the blood, sweat, and tears behind each of these movements; however, they are the last to be acknowledged, publicized, and thanked.
I ask myself, why is that? Black Superwoman Syndrome, a term I was not familiar with until my homegirl Paula shared with me, is a term that describes how black women face the world each day.
Feeling an obligation to present an image of strength
Feeling obligated to suppress emotions
Resistance to being vulnerable
Drive to success despite limited resources and access
Feeling an obligation to help others
This term is more than a way to discriminate against the racial and gender injustices that are faced in this country, it is also a direct target on the black woman’s physical and mental health. Dr. Amani M. Allen conducted a study on the effects of racial discrimination and its relation to chronic diseases. Allen (2018) found that there is a direct correlation that “racial discrimination alone can be detrimental to one's overall health”.
Before you describe black women as strong because they chose to stand up for injustice, feel uncomfortable because they expressed emotions in which you are not used to, ask them to be friendlier because they spoke to you the same way as they did to others, ask them to do something impossible with limited resources, ask them for help because you think they do not have their own struggles…
Do me a favor, DON’T! Then take some time and ask yourself why?