Let’s face it…the health and wellness of black women is not a priority of the society that we live in. Black women face the intersection of gender and race minority (double minority). If you are an immigrant, such as myself, you stand in the center of a 3-way minority junction. The term “intersectionalilty” highlights intersections such as these very well for people of color. Health and wellness for black women is an area that is sorely needs more support.
So, in this month – May – we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States and parts of the Caribbean. Many of us will be heading out to seek out the perfect Mother’s Day presents, scheduling our Mother’s Day specials (brunches, dinners, massages, etc), and generally obsessing about the perfect Mother’s Day for our loved ones. So, as a mother myself, and surrounded by my own mother and mother-in-law, of course, I will be doing the same!
Of course, I had to join the Mother’s Day festivities. What can we say about mothers? They are awesome. We know there are mothers who have this name in roles only. But we have to give thanks for the women in our lives that love us unconditionally and support us. Most of these precious women tend to care for everyone but themselves. Society has taught women that caring for themselves is selfish and inglorious. But, we are here to dispel that myth and remind all the mothers out there that taking time for yourselves is essential to practicing proper mental health. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Period.
Image courtesy of Kimberlé’s Twitter
The term intersectionality, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and scholar, describes the overlap of social group categorizations (race, gender, social class, etc) and its relationships to systems of oppression and discrimination.
The term intersectionality as it relates to mental health is important as the term can help minority groups describe our experiences as we navigate our social and political worlds. As Kimberlé noted in her TedTalk, when we are unable to name an issue, we are unable to fix the issue.
I first became familiar with the ‘black love’ term when the Obamas became the first family of the US. I didn’t fully understand the need to have a specific term to describe a black couple. The Obamas and the Carters have become the gold standard of black relationships in the US. Maybe that’s because of the preoccupation with social media and the need to find role models that we can identify with. This creates a certain amount of pressure to adhere to a society-approved relationship model as well as completely undermining those relationships that exists outside of the spotlight and have managed to thrive.
In college, I learnt who I could be. I have had sisters all my life, but I had never experienced sisterhood. My first day of classes, I think in my first class too, I met her. Krystal Jackson is the sister I never had. I learnt the differences between sisters and sisterhood.
I learnt that I could step outside of my comfort zone. I began to learn to redefine friendship and relationships. I learnt that friendship is a relationship. A lesson that many people still do not understand. I began to evaluate the friendships in my life. As time went on, I realized I started cutting people out because we no longer had similar interests or values, and frankly because for some, I no longer needed to hold on to them. I think that’s another issue we experience. We have friendships or other relationships that have served us but we can’t let go when it’s time to move on. I learnt that relationships have a role. They are either moving you forward or moving you backward. They do not standstill. I became a woman in my friendship with Krystal. True sisterhood challenges you, protects you, gives you space to grow, mirrors yourself back to you, helps you to build character, and teaches you how to love and support unselfishly. We learn that we can succeed together through honest communication. This is not to say, it’s not difficult, because of course it is extremely uncomfortable and can hurt sometimes, but when you experience the joys that comes after, you rest assured knowing that you are becoming the woman that you want to be.