All Articles Tagged "strong black woman"
Despite making headlines for being “most likely to be [every terrible thing known to man]“, it turns out Black women are the least likely to commit suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the suicide rate among white men was 25.96 per 100,000 from 2005 to 2009 and, by comparison, the rate for black women was less than three suicides per 100,000.
As we reported before, according to the Government Executive, Veterans Affairs officials are studying the uniquely supportive culture of black women believing that might provide a key to addressing the spike in suicides occurring in the armed forces. They are hoping to re-create elements of black female culture that may help stop military veterans from killing themselves.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Black women don’t struggle with mental health issues, but according to Good Therapy, a sense of belonging might be the reason Black women do not often commit suicide:
The stigma that is associated with mental health problems may be disguising the real number of African Americans at risk for suicide. Research on suicide has been focused in many directions to assess the contributing factors. One area of research that has not been examined fully is the relationship between suicide and reasons for living among African-American women.
To address this gap, Jalika C. Street of the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University led a study that looked at how racial regard, which describes people’s sense of belonging to their race, influenced suicidal behavior in a sample of 82 African-American women with a history of at least one suicide attempt. She also assessed how racial regard and reasons for living worked together to affect future suicide attempts. Street used the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity and the Reasons for Living Inventory scales in her study.
Street discovered that the women who reported deep racial regard and felt positively associated with their African-American identity reported being more committed to living and felt a stronger sense of purpose than those with little racial regard. Racial identity alone, in the absence of racial regard, did not increase a woman’s willingness to live. These findings shed some light on how private racial association and sense of commitment affect psychological well-being in African-American women. It has been suggested that private racial regard is linked to mental health issues, such as self-esteem and depression, in other culturally diverse samples, but this study is the first to elucidate a link between racial regard, desire for living, and suicidal ideation and behavior in this sample; the practical implications of these findings could be significant if applied in a clinical setting. “In other words, private racial regard may be considered a coping resource that is important to capitalize upon in designing and implementing culturally informed interventions,” said Street.
We know that our friendships are important, but it seems having good thoughts toward our race and others of the same race can be a factor in decreasing the likelihood of committing suicide. However, these researchers did point out that suicide still poses a major problem for the culture at large. Some experts believe that the low rates of suicide do not accurately reflect suicidal ideation (or thoughts of suicide) among African-Americans because many members of African-American communities perceive disclosure as a sign of weakness.
While we can definitely be glad that Black women aren’t killing themselves in high numbers, if even one feels she needs to end her life, that is one too many.
Are you surprised by their reasoning for black women being the least likely to commit suicide?
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Most times when we find out that researchers are going to be studying some facet of black women we cringe. Especially since as of late those studies have revolved around two things—why are we all overweight and why are we all single. Yeah, we’re over it. But a new Veterans Affairs study is actually looking to examine something that black women are doing right in order to help other ethnic groups who aren’t faring so well. Amazing, right?
That being said, the good news this week is: We support one another more than any other culture!
How do we know this? Well, the government has been examining the fact that suicides among U.S. military members have spiked this year to an average of one suicide a day which is an 18 percent increase over last year and the highest rate so far during a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the government doesn’t break down military suicides according to race, when you look at the general population, African American women have the lowest suicide rate of any group, while white men have the highest. Seems pretty odd for a double minority to be handling life better than the one’s born into the highest rank of society, right? The Department of Veterans Affairs thinks so too which is why they’re looking into how black women’s network of social support can be applied to military personnel and curb these deaths.
Jan Kemp, the Veterans Affairs mental health director for suicide prevention, told Government Executive magazine:
“The sense of community among [black women] and the … built-in support that they get from each other is something we’re paying a lot of attention to, and trying to find ways to emulate. I think often that veterans and men don’t have that same sort of personal support, and we have to build that for them.”
The Grio points out that recent studies like those from the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation have brought our supportive nature to the forefront, showing how we rely on one another and our own sense of self-worth to still feel beautiful and powerful and loved despite expanded waist bands, low net worth, and even social stereotypes and racism, and we encourage other black women to feel the same.
Sophia Nelson, author of Black Woman Redefined, told the Grio there are two main reasons why black women have a lower suicide rate and hold up so well against the odds:
“Black women are considered the most loyal faith-based group in the country,” she said. “It’s really black women’s coping mechanism. Black people go to church at the highest rate in this country, black women being the largest portion of that group.”
The other reason is steeped more in our history in America.
“The strength of black women harkens back to slavery, but that strength is not just physical — it’s also spiritual. It has evolved,” she added. “We have been through slavery, Jim Crow, and suffered the social injuries of being both black and female. I would argue that black women, because of the horror we have endured — that puts you in a very unique situation. Their strength and their spirituality is what saved them — because of their history. It’s kind of like being a marathon runner. You build up your endurance over time.”
As much as we don’t like to have to have to carry the image of the strong black woman on our backs all the time, this research shows it’s something that’s already in most of us anyway. Kudos to us for having each other’s backs and our own!
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The word victim has a unique connotation to it. In some ways it places total blame on an outside source for one’s circumstances while in others it implies weakness—something no black woman wants to be associated with. When we look at the headlines about black women that catch our attention, they’re often sensational and allow little room for understanding—like Amber Cole. Or we’re not present at all because we seemingly don’t matter—these are the countless black women you don’t hear went missing until their bodies pop up and the case turns from missing person to homicide.
But do we allow any room for black women as victims ourselves? In many comments overheard in public or read online, there’s usually an attitude of “what is she crying about,” or “girl, get over it,” “move on,” “let it go,” “It’s not that serious,” attached to stories about black women who are facing circumstances that may seem trivial to us but are overbearing to them, and deserve some ounce of sympathy.
It’s never good to portray yourself as a victim for the sake of pity but it’s also not healthy to not allow yourself to have weak moments. As much as we say we hate the “strong black woman” stereotype, we sometimes enforce it ourselves by not allowing any explanation for our circumstances other than “why did you let that happen to yourself.” Wallowing in sorrow with a “the world is against me” type attitude doesn’t do you any favors either, but it’s important to find a space somewhere in the middle where you don’t beat yourself or every other women up for moments of weakness without shifting to the other end of the spectrum and feeling like you’re on the verge of self-destruction.
I can remember talking to a woman about some issues I was having once while holding back tears, and as she talked to me about how I shouldn’t be ashamed to cry and asked why I was forcing myself not to, and telling me X, Y, and Z wasn’t my fault, all I could think was, I wish she would stop talking to me like some stay-at-home white mother crying in the middle of her living room surrounded by toys because she can’t clean up the house and cook dinner all before her husband comes home from work. In other words, I didn’t want to be seen as helpless and weak because that’s what crying and admission of feeling defeated meant to me.
White women pretty much have that whole victim thing figured out quite well no matter what position they’re in in society and what circumstances they’re facing. While I don’t think black women want to be seen in that way by any means, I do think we have to cut ourselves a little slack because that’s they only way the rest of society will begin to. It’s also part of helping the rest of the world see that, yes our stories are that serious, and no, we can’t just move on. The world needs to recognize that we don’t bring every hardship in our lives on ourselves, and that we deserve compassion too, and I think that attitude shift has to start with us.
Do you think society allows black women to be victims? Do you think black women allow other black women to feel like victims? Should they?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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How do you label someone a confident or cocky person? Common sense should tell you. Other times, situations may reveal the difference between a narcissist and someone who knows who they are. For instance, your friend may be trying to engage you in conversation and share their opinions; that’s self-assureness, another may go the extra mile to prove that they’re smarter than you! This is a prime example of an arrogant person. Going forward, here are some signals to differentiate between the two:
Take a look: Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Over the last few years there has been a continuous backlash against the notion of a Strong Black Woman (SBW). A number of blog posts, articles and books calling for the death of the Strong Black Woman. Most of it has been in response to the media putting black women under a microscope pointing out our so-called issues. If we have not been scrutinized about our inability to get married, keep savings beyond five dollars, and other lifestyle choices, then we are ostracized for being loud, obnoxious and overall drama queens.
Even though the media had contributed to the objectification of the black woman and her strength, the real hostile response has come from within the black community itself. Both men and women believe that the trademark of a SBW is nothing more than a well-crafted myth—that as long as black women keep up this false notion of strength, we somehow cosign on all the abuse, ingratitude, exploitation, and under-appreciation we receive from the rest of society.
But why should black women have to denounce their attribute of strength just to fight against oppression or to reject unfair attacks and characterizations to her individuality?
When people generally think of strength, they tend to think of physical strength and strong personalities, which is typically attributed to men. However, strength can also mean being mentally and emotionally strong too. Yet, regardless of the definition, being strong doesn’t make a woman any less feminine.
Can black women be bitter at times? Sure, but who in the black community isn’t bitter at times? During the days of slavery, the black woman had to work long and hard in the fields alongside her black brothers, or play the “mammy” to white kids or be the “massa’s” sex toy. After slavery, she, just like black men, had to bury her pain in order to take care of the home and children—mostly by herself. In various civil rights and black pride movements, she had to totally disregard her own needs for the greater good of the community. Even today, she has to balance the demands placed on her between pursuing her education, building her career and taking care of her family. Ultimately, it’s the SBW that must sacrifice her own needs and desires to fulfill the needs of other individuals.
Though there is a great emotional and physical cost to being a SBW, we also have a great ability to move on and forward, despite all the setbacks and challenges. Do black women need a support system and to set boundaries from time to time? Sure, but I also don’t think we need to reject displaying our strength. Like any other woman on the planet, black women should understand that her strength is also the embodiment of femininity. It’s not the term (Strong Black Woman) that needs to change, but how we further subjugate the experience of black women that should be modified.
In the heart of a woman, you’ll find two things: love, and more love. Even when that woman’s having a bad hair day or struggling with her 1980′s wardrobe, she is filled with love. Even when she’s the lone voice of reason in an all-male board meeting, she is filled with love. When she’s stereotyped, misjudged or mischaracterized, her heart still forges ahead with love. In good times and bad, with good shoes and bad, whether basked in high fashion or struggling with low moments, this woman’s heart keeps racing, pacing with love. This woman is you, your sister, your mother, your role model, your wife, your friend, your girlfriend, your cousin, your First Lady. Her mind has traveled everywhere, her eyes have wondered everything, her beauty has affected everyone and her thoughts have turned the world around its axis: we listen to her thoughts and collect them here. And, we fondly call her “Madame Noire.”