Monday, March 31, 2008

Being "strong" can kill you

I just started Terrie Williams new, must-read book "Black Pain" that tackles the taboo topic of blacks and depression, and how our inability to recognize our psychological pain and unwillingness to seek help is killing us.

Black Pain identifies emotional pain — which uniquely and profoundly affects the black experience — as the root of lashing out through desperate acts of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, workaholism, and addiction to shopping, gambling, and sex. Few realize these destructive acts are symptoms of our inner sorrow.

Black people are dying. Everywhere we turn, in the faces we see and the headlines we read, we feel in our gut that something is wrong, but we don't know what it is. It's time to recognize it and work through our trauma. More...
As I read Williams' chapter on black women and our psychological traumas, I seethed a little more over all those people who were shocked, SHOCKED by the anger of the black community as voiced by Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I was also reminded of this poem, which most of you have no doubt seen before, but it never hurts to be reminded that Superwoman is fictional and trying to be "strong" all the time can kill you.

The Strong Black Woman is Dead
by Laini Mataka

The strong black woman is dead

The strong black woman is dead...on August 15, 1999 at 11:15 p.m. while struggling with the reality of being a human instead of a myth, the strong black woman passed away.

Medical sources say she died of natural causes, but those who knew her know she died from being silent when she should have been screaming, smiling when she should have been raging, from being sick and not wanting anyone to know because her pain might inconvenience them.

She died from an overdose of other people clinging to her when she didn't have enough energy for herself. She died from loving men who didn't love themselves, and only offer her a crippled reflection. She died from raising children alone and for not being able to do a complete job. She died from the lies her grandmother told her mother, and her mother told her about life, men and racism.

She died from being sexually abused as a child and having to take that truth everywhere she went, everyday of her life, exchanging the humiliation for guilt and back again.
She died from being battered by someone who claimed to love her. And she allowed the battering to go on, to show she loved him too.

She died from asphyxiation, coughing up blood from secrets she kept trying to burn away instead of allowing herself the kind of nervous breakdown she was entitled to, but only white girls could afford.

She died from being responsible, because she was the last rung on the ladder and there was no one under her she could dump on. The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the multiple births of her children she never really wanted, but was forced to have by the strangling morality of those around her. She died from being a mother at 15, a grandmother at 30 and an ancestor at 45.

She died from being dragged down and sat upon by un-evolved women posing as sisters. She died from pretending the life she was living was a Kodak moment instead of a 20th century, post slavery nightmare!

She died from tolerating Mr. Pitiful just to have a man around the house. She died from lack of orgasms because she never learned what made her body happy and no one took the time to teach her, and sometimes when she found arms that were tender, she died because they belonged to the same gender.

She died from sacrificing herself for everybody and everything when what she really wanted to do was be a singer, a dancer, or some magnificent other.

She died from lies of omission because she didn't want to bring the black man down, she died from race memories of being snatched and raped, snatched and sold and snatched and bred, snatched and whipped and snatched and worked to death.

She died from tributes from her counterparts who should have been matching her efforts instead of showering her with dead words and empty songs, she died from myths that would not allow her to show weakness without being chastised by the lazy and the hazy.

She died from hiding her real feelings until they became hard and bitter enough to invade her womb and breast like angry tumors. She died from always lifting something from heavy boxes to refrigerators.

The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the punishments received from being honest about life, racism and men. She died from being called a bit-h for being verbal, a dyke for being assertive and a ***** for picking her own lovers. She died from never being enough of what men wanted, or being too much for the men she wanted.

She died from being too black and died again for not being black enough. She died from castration every time somebody thought of her as only a woman, or less than a man.
She died from being mis-informed about her mind, her body and the extent of her royal capabilities.

She died from knees pressed to close together because respect was never part of the foreplay that was being shoved at her.

She died from loneliness in birthing rooms and loneliness in abortion centers, she died of shock in courtrooms where she sat, alone, watching her children being legally lynched.

She died in bathrooms with her veins busting open with self-hatred and neglect. She died in her mind, fighting life, racism, and men while her body was carted away and stashed in a human warehouse for the spiritually mutilated, and sometimes when she refused to die, when she just refused to give in, she was killed by the lethal images of blonde hair, blue eyes and flat butts, rejected by the O.J.'s, the Quincy's and the Poitiers.

Sometimes, she was stomped to death by racism and sexism, executed by hi-tech ignorance while she carried the family in her belly, the community on her head, and the race on her back!

The strong silent, talking black woman is dead!!!!!!!!! Or is she still alive and kicking???????????? I know I'm still here.

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