The 'Strong Black Woman' trope... is far more harmful to them than many of us stop to consider.

-JeCorey Holder

by JeCorey Holder 

The erasure of mental illnesses in Black people is real. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard folks go on about how they aren’t “allowed” to acknowledge things like clinical depression, anxiety, or different neurological states such as autism.  

I have witnessed Black elders unfairly dismiss such things as “white people issues”. The acknowledgement that a Black person has a mental disorder or intellectual disability is often seen as a mark of weakness, and these instances of neurodivergence are often seen things that can simply be “prayed away”.

This kind of blatant disregard impacts Black women in a specific and significant way.

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The mental anguish of Black women is far too often thrown into the back-seat in favor of the “Strong Black Woman” trope, and it is far more harmful to them than many of us stop to consider.

Between microaggressions, outright abuse, disrespect, our downright volatile sociopolitical climate, and potential mental health issues, Black women are constantly expected to shoulder so much weight that is emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, and even financially draining. And we still demand their emotional labor.

No matter how many times you praise a Black woman for being “strong” and “sassy”, chances are that all this white supremacy, patriarchy, misogynoir, and gaslighting shit is really getting to her, and it has been for quite some time.  

While it is true that many of these Black women are, indeed, strong, that does not mean they are invulnerable. That does not mean their strength is infinite. That does not mean that their strength is absolute. That does not mean that Black women aren’t exhausted.

Give them the courtesy of acknowledging their suffering, and give them the room they need to get away from your “Strong Black Woman” image and just be human.

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Gamer, geek, and social activist. JeCorey Holder has been weaving tapestries of shade and fury since the early 2000’s. Pro-LGBTQ, pro-black, and pro intersectional feminism, he is full of feelings and opinions that try to call out and tear down the oppressive status quo