Not all black women are ‘strong and independent’

Please go and listen to ‘black girls don’t cry’ by Marverine Cole on BBC radio 4, she explores why some black women are more prone to anxiety and depression.

Link down below:

This stereotypical quote of the strong independent black woman has been overused in today’s media. How black females are being portrayed in the media contributes to how a young black woman sees herself and influences her behavior and actions.

Although this quote can be seen as positive, it can also harm a black woman’s general well being. Black women are ashamed or afraid to show any emotion because it may make them look weak. Black women believe in some way that they must appear to be strong because they don’t want to be seen as the emotional type.

Black women are being viewed as this pillar of hope for everybody else, those around them look to black women for reassurance and positivity, but black women fail to ask for help for themselves.

“conceptual entrapment by imagery”, represented as authentic in the media, meaning black women are almost trapped within that image of the strong independent woman, and they can’t seem to break this image that has chained them down for so long.
Both fiction and non-fiction help media consumers ‘make sense of the world— often the world that they only know through the media pseudo environment’. As Cavender (1999) writes: ‘Movies are entertainment. However, like other aspects of popular culture, movies, especially crime films, do more than entertain. They circulate ideologies—about good and evil, order and disorder— and images of masculinity and femininity’

In Afro/Carribean households, there is a lot of danger because nobody knows how to share their deep emotions. If any emotion is shown, such as crying, then this is looked down upon, so we learn to cry on the inside or in secret, where nobody can see our tears because we fear being vulnerable and we fear being judged.

The media can’t be the only factor to blame; generations of the trauma of black enslavement has been passed down. Black women were working in the plantations during the slave trade, just as much as the black men. Black women created this barrier, that they don’t need any help, they can work hard and do things for themselves. Mental health can be affected because doing things on your own can be a huge burden to bear, thus Black women carry the baggage of the hardships our ancestors felt on our shoulders daily.

According to the NHS Afro/Caribbean women are more likely than our white female counterparts to experience a common mental disorder, such as anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, depression, and self-harm.

Could it be said that black women who self harm feel like they’re not being seen?

Could this be a reflection on how we’re represented in the media? that there’s a lack of representation.

Social media such as youtube can be positive because real black women are putting themselves out there more and giving voice to those who are more afraid to speak.

The media and generations of slavery have shaped a black woman’s viewpoint on herself. Black women have been pigeonholed into this stereotypical box of ‘strong and independent’ but we are more than that, we are human. To be human is to have a heart. To have a heart is to have emotion.

It’s almost as if black women feel that they must wear this suit of armor daily to hid any emotion but on the inside, they are weeping.
Emotion can’t be bottled up for too long, we need to express how we feel to lighten the load that we carry.

Just a little poem I wrote:

Though I am strong, I am weak. I cry where nobody can see, I go to work smiling. I pretend to the world, but I have a voice, this world doesn’t want to hear… If I don’t speak then my thoughts may consume me.

One thought on “Not all black women are ‘strong and independent’

  1. Yes, I really agree with what you’re saying. I think people think of black women as being outside of the human experience which is so unhealthy for us. But hopefully we can get to the point where even if the world doesn’t have our backs, we can have each other’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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