Women are badasses. Even though men are at the top of the food chain, because of patriarchy, we really run this shit and keep the world turning. My favorite women, of course, are black women; I am one, as is my mother, my closest friends, and most women I look up to. Black women have always been sprinkled with a little extra badass-ery but we prefer to call it #BlackGirlMagic. Our beautiful, wonderful, magical selves have been the backbone of our communities since forever! We care for our men and children. We take care of our parents or anyone else in need. We’re the shoulder to cry on, the listening ear, and we do it all with a smile on our face! As black women we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves when it comes to mental and physical health because we are too busy taking care of others. And that all ends today!
For as long as I can remember, whenever black women were to be praised (which is hardly ever *eye roll*) the adjective used most frequently to describe us was “strong.” Not chest press 250 pounds “strong” but more like possessing great fortitude. There’s a toughness about us that allows us to endure even in the most difficult of circumstances. Not only do we endure, but we’re expected to rise from the ashes unscathed and bring our communities out of the flames with us. We take on the pain and stress of everyone else and do it quietly but at what cost?
There’s a very famous quote in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God from Nanny, the grandmother of the main character, where she explains how black women are consistently stepped on by society and their own men. She says:
"Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see."
From that time until this, nothing has changed for we are still the mules of the world. We have made ourselves responsible for the physical, mental, and emotional labor of the world. We fight both sexism and racism daily. Some of us even deal with colorism at the hands of our own people. We battle the ills of society all while trying to keep our personal lives intact and it is e x h a u s t i n g.
Listen, I love us for real (word to Mo’Nique) but my sisters, we’ve got to stop. For centuries our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers have been carrying the load and I’m here today to let you know it’s okay to put it down. We are not Superwoman. That’s not a role we have to play even if we were cast against our will. There is nothing wrong with being a strong woman but let it be because that’s what you want. There’s a difference in being strong because you need to be and being strong because you’re made to be.
I have spent 25 years of my life molding myself into this stereotype. I have worn it as a badge of honor. I learned from my mother that there’s no time for pity parties because life moves on and so should we. I cannot blame her because this is what we as black women of every generation have been taught. So, I’ve held things in. I haven’t cried. I’ve suffered. I haven’t taken the necessary time to process traumas and now all my chickens have come home to roost. I now find myself having to unlearn these unhealthy behaviors at 26-years-old. I’m learning the beauty in vulnerability. I’ve discarded my armor and I’ve laid my weapons down for the sake of saving myself for once.
I want to say to anyone who has taken their time to read this, it’s okay to save yourself. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first when it comes to your needs and your mental health. They say you can’t pour into anything or anyone if your cup is empty. You also can’t pour if your cup is cracked and beginning to leak. Before you crack and especially before you break, I encourage you to take off the cape, fold it, and store it away. We’ve all got to do a better job at healing ourselves and I declare that it starts right here today.
Take these words and be blessed, beloved.
Audreyonna Sequale is a 26-year-old who is living, learning, and documenting all the lessons in between. She began blogging in December 2017 in hopes that her experiences would resonate with others and encourage them to live their truths.
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