“I’m a super girl and I’m here to save the world, but I wanna know who’s gonna save me?” Nobody. I finally took a major step and decided that my health and well-being would come first. Shonda Rhimes had her Year of Yes. This is my year of no. No to being everything to everyone but me. No to being the black superwoman. No to being the family fixer. No nurturing men who still don’t appreciate a strong black woman. No to men who say that I am intimidating. No to women who don’t support the sisterhood in all of its colors. No to “can you work for free” – be it legal pro bono or freelance writing. No to feeling guilty for once putting myself first.
The black woman’s syndrome is a blessing and a curse. We bear the weight of the world on our shoulders. If another person calls me strong, I will punch them. I am strong not because I want to be, but I have no other choice. I do not have the luxury of being vulnerable, a damsel in distress or a dumb blonde. I must do everything a guy can do, support the fragile ego of black men that want it all but not my sass, the envy of other women (love my hips, butt, and lips) but don’t want the degradation and objection that comes from that. Black women been holding it down, but no one praises our efforts. We’ve been voting for what’s right even when we don’t benefit from it for a lifetime. Yet, there is no “pantsuit nation” acknowledgment of our struggle and commitment to social justice. In the words of Sojourner Truth, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?”
People are talking about a day without women. How about a day without black women? It hurts my heart to see black men without reservation publicly degrade and talk against black women. Whatever happened to “Respect and Protect the Black Woman?” In the words of Tupac, “Since we all came from a woman, Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman, I wonder why we take from our women, Why we rape our women, do we hate our women? I think it’s time to heal our women, be real to our women, So will the real men get up.” Shout out to the black men that are taking a public stand for black women like LaKeith Stanfield and Kofi Siriboe.
It is reasonable to examine how the role of Superwoman might be a double-edged sword for the health of this group–an asset and a vulnerability. African American women have been acclaimed for their strength (vis-à-vis resilience, fortitude, and perseverance) in the face of societal and personal challenges. This has been viewed as a positive character trait or asset that has contributed to survival among the African American population. It stands to reason that without this survival mechanism, African Americans might not have endured tremendous historical hardships. Nevertheless, Romero has stated that, “an overused asset that develops uncritically without ongoing evaluation and attention to changing needs and demands runs the risk of becoming a liability.” Perhaps there is a price to the Superwoman role. The legacy of strength in the face of stress among African American women might have something to do with the current health disparities that African American women face. – Superwoman Schema by Cheryl L. Woods-Giscombe
Call me an angry black woman. I don’t care. But research has shown that the Black Superwoman syndrome is killing us. I did not need a study to prove that. My physical health has deteriorated being everything to everybody. My well is dry, yet people continue to make requests of me because I’m strong and I apparently can do anything. A friend said, “You’ve invested so much in other people and I’m afraid that for many of them you will never get an ROI (return on investment). Time to put that energy in yourself.” I must take hold of the reins of my life before I literally fall apart.
I am starting to meet people with an interest in my entrepreneurial endeavors and I am so emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically exhausted that I don’t have the energy to invest in me. After 40 years, I deserve to treat myself with as much care, concern, and passion that I have treated others. If my body is a temple, right now it is a ruin. I must rebuild this temple.
Off I go in the world to find some peace and tranquility. To find a reason to hope. To find me. To find joy in living. To renew my faith in humanity. To save me from being superwoman. I am throwing off the cape, superwoman be damned. I can’t save the world while I fall to pieces.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem