strong black woman
I feel as though there’s this common ideology passed through generations of black females that tells of the strength, dignity, and perseverance in the midst of chaos and adversity that is buried in each of us and is unleashed just when we need it most.
We bend, not break.
Depression is nothing but the Devil.
“Mental Health” is a term for white people who blow their brains out.
Therapy is for those who lack faith in God.
We never give up.
Blah blah blah…
While I’m in my graduate school studies and as I learn more and more about psychology, I am astonished to find so many articles that study this stigma that women of color are taught to uphold. As a woman of color myself, I had already been wondering why we put so much pressure on ourselves to be super-humans in the face of fear and hardship.
There are many places in which I’ve found the following information, whether it be online, scholarly journal articles, experiments and personal experiences. Because of this, not everything will be cited and I encourage those who would like more detail to either research this for themselves or contact me and I will try to find the exact sources again for you!
Basically, during the slave trade, black people were stripped of the essence of their very beings. I won’t go into too much detail here as we’ve had to have this same conversation since 4th grade history class and just as I’m sure white people are tired of hearing about it, I too tire of being ignored when I beat a dead horse.
Anyway, with the destruction of the self, black women tried to hold onto this ideology that no matter what it is we face, we will ultimately come out alive and thriving. “Flowers who grow without water” we are called. If your man leaves you for a white woman, it’s simply because he is not strong enough to be with his own kind. If you are depressed, this is a trick of the Enemy as he tries to get you to focus on yourself instead of the Lord. If you ask for help outside of the church, you are allowing spirits into your home and you are outwardly showing your lack of faith in God.
This is what we are taught.
I praise God for my mother who had sense.
My mother also taught me and my sisters to be strong black women, but in a very rational, realistic and holistic way. We are all Christians: I have accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. It is because of this I understand that while the Lord is with us through all things, good and bad, I also understand that we are meant to help one another and we are not meant to be alone.
One good example is a joke that I remember being told one Sunday service many years ago. Some of you may already know it, but for those that don’t here it goes:
There was once a man who was drowning in the middle of the ocean. He thrashed and kicked at the waves, struggling to keep his head above water. Not long was he out there before a boat passed by carrying some fishermen. The men asked the drowning man if he was alright and offered to toss him a life jacket, to which the man refused, saying “No, I’ll be fine. God is going to save me!” The fishermen were hesitant, but continued on their journey. Two more times this would happen: a boat with worried passengers aboard offered to help the man who was clearly drowning. Two more times he would assure them: “Do not worry. The Lord will save me.” Eventually, the man did drown. Upon reaching heaven and speaking to God, the man asked Him, “Lord! Why didn’t you save me?” Disappointed, the Lord replied, “I…I sent you 3 boats!”
What does this story mean? Well to me, it means that the Lord is willing to help us. He if we ask with our child-like faith, He will hear our pleas and extend a helping hand. However, this doesn’t mean that the blessing or help or assurance we ask for is going to come in the way we expect.
Perhaps the drowning man was expecting for the seas to split or for a giant hand to swoop down from heaven. Can God do this? Sure! Does it mean He will? Well, no.
In the same sense, to the black women who truly believe that prayer and prettily colored Bible verses will be enough to battle depression, you are wrong.
To the black women who turn to substances alone to cure their anxiety: sis, it won’t help.
And to the black women who feel shame for not having ever aspect of her life together: you may be a black woman, but you are a woman.
There is no shame in crying. There is no shame in saying you need a minute. There is no shame in depression and anxiety. There is no shame in not having everything figured/planned out. There is no shame in not being perfect.
If you ain’t Jesus, you ain’t perfect. It’s okay.
Be a black woman who is strong enough to admit when she has a problem; the one who finds strength in her humility and honesty. We were made in His image. That doesn’t mean that we are on the same level as Him.
My name is Julia Lauren. I’m a recovering people-pleaser who suffers from severe anxiety and moderate to severe depression. I feel at times that I wasted the last 24 years of my life and yet I simultaneously feel as though I’m going somewhere- if only I knew where that somewhere was. (I hope it’s France or Japan) I can’t stand secrets or lying and yet I forgive them anyway. I’m a hopeless romantic who is afraid of ending up alone and sometimes I forget just how big God is and whether He remembers me or not. I’m still in love with a man who I’m almost completely certain no longer cares for me at all…it’s been over 3 years now, too. I let my past haunt me in the graveyard that is my mind and soul and I simultaneously know that I am not who I was a year ago, two years ago or a decade ago.
My name is Julia Lauren. I am a strong black woman.