I am not a strong Black woman. It feels really liberating to write that sentence down as I rarely have chances to say it in my everyday life. Yesterday I went shopping. I was carrying a bag I had from another store and immediately felt on edge as soon as I walked in. Why? As a Black person I know I am automatically being watched by security, and feel uneasy when shopping inside any store. Being followed by security is a normal experience for Black people. Normal as in it always happens to us and has been apart of our lives since childhood, which did not make me stronger, but instead gave me massive anxiety. When I walked into the store carrying a bag from another store I felt scared, and when I walked out having not bought anything I slowed my pace down because I didn’t want anyone to think I had stolen something. I am not a strong Black woman.
While my mother was dying from cancer I took care of her. I would go to work in the morning, and directly to my parents house at night to care for her, which included spending the night on her really hard days. For four months I smiled at work for the teachers, parents and kids, while simultaneously crying in my office bathroom in-between office visits. I couldn’t eat and my five-two frame became extremely frail. My emotional and mental state had gotten so bad that my size four jeans were falling off my waist. One coworker noticed. She had lost her father to cancer some years before. My coworker would bring me into her classroom and cry with me at lunch. She would bring me food and make me sit with her and eat. The front office and administrative staff knew what was going on in my life and never once showed me the care my coworker did.
After my mothers passing I became caretaker to my father who has a myriad of health issues. In 2019 his heart stopped and I watched the ICU team try several times to shock his dead body back to life; they did. He lived and I help. From doctor visits, emergency room stays, hospitalizations, grocery and medication pickup, nightly reminder calls to take meds and everything in-between…I help. My father and I have a strained relationship, but I am still there every day to take care of him. Once, while speaking to my cousin I commented about the toll all of this had been taking on me and he responded with, “Yeah, but you were built for this. You’re strong.” When I told him I was never given an option not to be strong he said, “I don’t believe that.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Black women most people don’t. They believe we were built for this…whatever “this” is but honestly, no one was built for this. I am not a strong Black woman.Continue reading