As an African American young lady, I was taught that you can have emotions, but nobody else should see them. Crying shows weakness not only in the black community but in our society. That is why black men or men, in general, can’t show emotion. It isn’t manly to cry, but women don’t have that stereotype. Women are supposed to be emotional, but black women aren’t allowed that casualty. I ran across a picture on Facebook that had me thinking. It stated:
“My first Tattoo: A Short Tale: When my sister was a toddler she threw a terrible temper tantrum and threw herself onto the floor crying. My father picked her up and set her firmly on her feet and said, “you can cry, but you gone cry standing up.” Since my father’s passing, this story has been resonating with me. He is a man who believed in the power of emotion and vulnerability. Sometimes life deals you some Sh** and you need to cry about it and that’s okay but do it on your feet.”
In the black community, women tend to have this Independent black woman complex. You know, that, “I’m a strong independent woman that don’t need no man!” line that you hear spewing from the mouths of black women all the time. It was taught as a defense mechanism against a society that doesn’t consider women equals, but really don’t consider black women equals. This complex teaches you to never let other people see your emotions, don’t take help (or what is seen as pity), and to have your own. Although this complex helps women get through society, it causes a lot of depression and anxiety that weighs on black women. The responsibility that is held with being the strong independent woman sometimes get too heavy to carry and you just want to break down.
The Breaking Down Stage
The breaking down stage is where the depression and anxiety come in. I hate reading things that spit statistics at you, but just to get an idea, I looked up the rates of depression in the community of African American women. Huff Post writer Nia Hamm stated, “Although some figures vary based on the study, depression affects between 17-20 million Americans a year. Data from a study published by the Center for Disease Control — the CDC — found that women (4 percent vs. 2.7 percent of men) and African-Americans (4 percent) are significantly more likely to report major depression than whites (3.1 percent).” These statistics show you that black women are begging and crying for help on the inside but will never let you know.
Now, the whole point of this discussion is to show you the correct way to view be a strong independent woman. You can be strong and be vulnerable! You can cry and still put people in their place if need be. You can receive help and not think of it as pity. If you are going to cry for all the women in the world, cry standing up. Men, if you are going to cry, don’t do it to yourself. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable as well. A woman who can say you are not manly for showing emotion is one who does not understand how all humans work.
Breaking Down The Barrier
In order to break down this barrier, you have to know that you can be strong and be vulnerable like I stated before. This complex affects our relationships with people because we don’t want them to see that side of us, but you’re allowed to let them see that side of you. I wrote in a paper for my black women’s health class that stated, ” I had to teach myself that when I am upset then I’m allowed to grieve whatever situation that made me upset. My holding stuff in trying to be “strong” made me question my reasoning for even being on this earth at one point… every time I feel like I’m going to cry, I know that I can’t show everybody those emotions, because some people are just to ignorant to know that it’s not weakness, it’s human.” For the sake of your sanity, you are allowed to grieve situations that make you upset. For many years women had to stay silent, but now it is the time to speak up for yourself and the black community. Strength isn’t just defined as something physical. Strength isn’t defined as someone who is emotionless. Strength is knowing that you have fallen down but you’re not going stay down forever. You can cry, but you gone cry standing up.
Thank you for tuning in to my blog. Hopefully, you could relate to this in some aspect. It was power for me to write and hopefully, it is powerful to read! You guys have a great weekend and week next week.