I am a lover and supporter of podcasts - specifically black ones. As a recent HBCU graduate who's been in the professional (Caucasian) world for one year this month, podcasts centered around black culture serve as therapy for me mainly because they involve discussions to which others simply cannot relate.
One of my favorites since its debut in December 2016, is Black Girl Podcast (@blackgirlpod). Scottie Beam (@scottiebeam), Sapphira M (@sapphira_em) , Alysha P (AlyshaP819), Gia Peppers (@giapeppers), and Bex (@blvckdaria), are 20-something black women who crossed paths and became friends while working at the legendary station, HOT 97, and are individually taking the media industry by storm.
Their most recent episode involves the group opening up about a conversation that black women typically do not have. Aside from the fact that these women have built their personal brands, and are media moguls in their own right, they experience real tears, fears, frustrations, and struggles. They are human. But, like most of us, do not want to give into their humanness, and refuse to ask for help.
The transparency of these five women reminded me that there is something so beautifully powerful and liberating about the collective vulnerability of black women when it comes to our daily personal struggles.
When I toil with opening up about my personal problems and don’t want to ask anyone for help, I often refer back to an article written by Josie Pickens that was published a few years ago, and remains relevant today, titled “Depression and the Black Superwoman Syndrome”.
There’s one paragraph that continues to resonate with me. Pickens writes:
“The peculiar thing about doing the work to uplift others is, the world often forgets that the worker also needs uplifting, that the work becomes heavy, that frequently the work is being performed to soothe one’s own soul. And that when one lives even a small portion of her life publicly, that public too often expects perfection.”
In writing this article, Pickens was reflecting on the sudden suicide of For Brown Girls creator Karyn Brown. Someone who was seen as a beacon of light to others, maybe a shoulder to cry on, or even a symbol of strength for her brown sisters. Pickens says that she was also reminded of her own struggles with depression and anxiety that she has faced throughout her lifetime.
Black women have been the strength that has held families together for centuries.The black woman has always been the rock. And we are proud of that. But, is there such thing as being too strong?
It’s almost viewed as weak if we’re tired, anxious, or just plain sad. Oftentimes, seeing a therapist or a counselor is looked down upon. If you are a spiritual person like myself, it’s easy to pray about it and move on. But the reality is that mental illness is real, and the importance of mental health must be acknowledged and discussed. Sometimes it is okay to not be okay.
Do not suffer in silence. Write it down. Talk about it. Do something about it. But most importantly, ask about it. It’s fine to be your biggest critic, as long as you are your biggest advocate, too.
Black Girl Podcast is available for download on iTunes.