The truth is, the darker someone's skin tone, the more often they experience racism, hatred and bullying. When someone with dark skin posts a photo of themselves — especially one celebrating their body and their race — we live in a world where they may be subjected to intense hate for their skin color alone. Model Khoudia Diop knows this all too well, but she's hoping her presence online and in the modeling world might change that.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Khoudia opened up about the racism she's experienced, and exactly what it means for her future.
"I was teased a lot growing up, because of my skin tone," Khoudia, who was born in Senegal and moved to France, said. "By other kids, and now even online sometimes, people will make comments."
Instead of listening to the haters, Khoudia celebrates her skin tone all the time. Her Instagram handle @melaniin.goddess is a nod to her gorgeous complexion, and she tags all her photos with celebratory sayings like #blackgirlmagic, #blackgirlsrock, #melaninonfleek, and of course #flawless. By being proud about her skin, Khoudia told the Daily Mail she hopes other young girls will use her as a role model.
"Because of my dark, melanin rich complexion and because I want to inspire young girls and let them know that we are all goddesses inside and out," she said. "The message I have for my sisters is that how you look doesn't matter as long as you feel beautiful inside."
This is so important, especially since there are so many messages out there telling young black girls that light skin is more beautiful. From things like makeup brands not making tones for dark skin to more drastic messages like skin bleach advertisements, there are so many things telling black girls that having a lighter skin tone is ideal. That's not true, though, it's just one of so many silly ideas society pushes. What's most beautiful is being and loving yourself as you are. Khoudia is a great example of someone not listening to bullies by staying true to herself.
"Growing up, I faced it by confronting the bullies. As I grew, I learned to love myself more every day, and not pay attention to the negative people, which helped a lot," she said.
That's definitely easier said than done, but take Khoudia as your inspiration.
This post was originally published on Teen...
Black girls are lit! We are out here writing our own stories, taking control of our images and giving new multidimensional perspectives of what it means to be black and a woman in society. As trailblazers like Issa Rae, Jessica Williams and Lena Waithe are blowing up the simplistic depictions that have defined us through society, no longer are we relegated to stereotypical, one-dimensional narratives.
In the spirit of this particular brand of #blackgirlmagic, Lupita Nyong'o continuously annihilates stereotypes and stretching perceptions in real time. We can't seem to take our eyes off of her remarkable beauty and tremendous growth as an entertainer and humanitarian.
Let's take a look at the flawless evolution of the Kenyan-Mexican starlet.
1. The Making of Greatness
Lupita is the second born of six children to Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor turned politician and former Minister for Medical Services in the Kenyan government. Primed for excellence, it is no surprise that the Yale School of Drama and Hampshire College alumnus, who is fluent in four languages, has achieved so much in her career. She's just warming up.
2. Academy Award Winning Actress
Although Lupita was grinding as an actress, writer, producer and director since 2008, it was her Academy Award Winning role as Patsey in the 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave that catapulted her into superstardom. In 2015, the actress commanded the stage in the Broadway play Eclipsed for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for best actress. Her recent role in the 2016 Disney film, Queen of Katwe is already generating Oscar buzz.
3. Fashion and Beauty Icon
Once the world got a glimpse of her flawless radiance, Lupita quickly became a fashion and beauty icon winning a coveted advertising contract with Lancôme and gracing countless magazine covers including Essence and Vogue.
4. The Princess of Poise
Aside from casually slaying long held beauty standards and effortlessly nailing every red carpet, Lupita consistently exudes an elegance and poise far beyond her years.
5. She Keeps it 100
Given her Hollywood elite pedestal, it would have been easy for Lupita to bask in that flawlessly confident image but instead, she uses her platform to reveal personal struggles to inspire confidence in other girls. At the 7th Annual Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, Lupita addressed the issue of self-hate inflicted upon black girls who don't meet the mainstream standard of beauty, revealing that there was a time in her life when she "prayed for lighter skin."
6. Her Black is Beautiful
Lupita has spoken out on various occasions about the negative impact that the singular European beauty standard has on people of color. Tired though it may be, we all know that the stigma around complexion and colorism continue to persist. Lupita, in all of her radiant glory, changes those conversations, delivering messages of self-love to little black girls and boys all over the world. Lupita loves the kids.
7. Lupita Comes through for the Culture
Dancing with my people. @voguemagazine #OctoberIssue #bts with @mariotestino @tonnegood A video posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on Oct 8, 2016 at 1:50am PDT
As the Hollywood starlet solidifies her space in the industry, she continues to reveal her layers peeling back her squeaky clean image to expose the endearing personality we all knew was lurking behind that flawless smile. Oh, and did I mention, the girl drops bars!
8. Random fits of Unapologetic Fabulousness
And for no reason at all, here's #LupitaNyongo with a hula hoop, in heels, in the Vogue offices. pic.twitter.com/fnbuvCFKLP
— Andrew LaSane (@laptop_lasane) October 24, 2016
Once you unleash the magic, there's no reigning it in.
9. Lip Sync Battle Champ
Ahhh!!!! 🏆 #LipSyncBattle
A video posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:33pm PDT
Well damn Lupita. We...we had no idea. On Spike's Lip Sync Battle, Lupita's feminine prowess came full circle. Missed it? Watch it again, and again.
10. Blerd Queen
Doing the #SillySeal with my @QueenOfKatweMovie co-stars. #WerkItWednesday #Queening
A video posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:26am PDT
Whipping work in Marvel's upcoming Black Panther film Lupita is winning as a cult film goddess and emerging as the ultimate blerd queen.
11. Lupita is Winning!
One time for Ms. Nyong'o out here living her best life in all these glorious layers of excellence.
We see you Lupita!
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We love diversity, but it's not always represented in our mainstream mediums. “United we stand” is a popular American slogan that we hear quite often, but we don’t always finish the quote… “Divided we fall.”
Here at Blavity, we collaborate with all kinds of content creators from different backgrounds. We believe everyone’s experience is unique and everyone has a story to tell. We are black and do not apologize for it, but we also identify ourselves as American.
We asked the Creative Society to challenge the status quo and share all the reasons why we are America too.
Valerie Robinson (@unapologetic_us)
I am America too because this nation has been built off the backs of my ancestors. Hard work is engrained in our roots and we can rewrite the ending to our own stories. My contributions to society will one day create a legacy that will span generations as I make it a priority to revisit often what gems I wish to leave here on this earth and tackle generational curses. Although we are standing on the shoulders of giants, it is important to do our parts and not waste any of our God-given talents and the opportunities afforded to us. “The time is always right to do what is right.” I don’t take any of that, the paved paths or my unique voice for granted. If nothing else, I strive everyday to leave things BETTER than they were the day before.
“There is no such thing as I can’t, only I won’t… and that is unacceptable” - Anonymous
Rhonna Wade (@rhonnawade)
I am America too because my family came to America looking for the same opportunities others' families did. I know I am more than capable and able to contribute to the bettering of the society as a whole and I cannot not let those who are afraid of change stop me.
“We may not have it all together but together we have it all.” - Anonymous
Thomas C. Knox (@datewhileyouwait)
I am America too based on the Constitution and my freedom of speech. I am able to develop my own American dream, giving me the ability to reconstruct the values it’s built on. I can speak freely and create a journey that allows me to challenge right from wrong, which gives me the opportunity to inspire and encourage future generations to continue the work that those before us have done to build a unified nation.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” - Gandhi
Georgette Pierre (@georgette)
I am America too because my siblings and I were able to live better lives due to the sacrifices my parents made moving to this country. I’m able to do things and live things my parents never imagined possible or knew existed. For that, I am mindful of the mark that I leave on this world by seeking to live my purpose, doing my best to empower and speak up for those that may feel discriminated against. Also acknowledging my ancestors that came before me to make this life possible for myself and others.
“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” - Freya Star
Brandon E. Miller (@thatguybmills)
I am America too because my ancestors are firmly rooted in the foundation that supports America. Like vines, my family’s contributions are woven into the history that defines America. And I, like you, continue to plant the seeds that once cultivated, will feed tomorrow’s America. I have faith that the American Dream will be what it used to be; regardless of what we look like, where we come from, how we think or how we live.
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Anonymous
Alicia Davis (@cubiclesandcurls)
I am America too because my parents came to this country for a better life and to give me more opportunities. I've worked hard to get everything I have and then some -- a good education, a job I enjoy and extra satisfaction from side endeavors. My history is American history and my struggle was born and can only be addressed by America.
“Think globally, act locally” - Patrick Geddes
Jon Lowe (@jlowe594)
I am America too because I was born and raised here, but it goes beyond that. Being American is not just about your document papers, but more about how you live your life, how you fight for equal rights, how you contribute to making this country greater, and how you vote to secure our country’s future. I am an American, but I am also an African-American.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” - Mark Twain
I am America too because I was raised in the burbs, went to a high school that was less than 1% black, attended 99% black HBCU Morehouse College, went to Stanford University for grad school, love hip hop, folk music, alternative rock, and R&B, play basketball and acoustic guitar, and often ask what IPA the local bars have on tap. I am unapologetically black, and a complex fusion of cultures and diverse experiences that are uniquely American. I am America because I am diversity and diversity makes America what it is.
Quote: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” - Matthew 6:33
Nic (@niktrition + @thefleektox)
I am America too because I embrace that America is all that is the Western Hemisphere; cognizant that this expands beyond the boundaries of what has been established as the United States of America. Being American is not about boundaries and limitations, but about enlightenment formed through the experience of globalization. The same globalization that warranted its founding and continues to emancipate those shackled by limited opportunity and rights. I am America too.
“Think Globally, Act Locally” - Patrick Geddes
Marqueeda LaStar (@lastargotnext)
I am America too because we are a nation of individuals that love our communities and ride for our chosen tribes. We champion our freedom to live as we choose. To be both bold and darling. To never stop reaching, growing or evolving. We live enriched lives due to these choices, challenges, tireless dedication to self-improvement, building a better tomorrow and the resulting diversity of expression. Our differences compliment our common ground. In Tim Curry fashion, I ask, What is light without darkness? I live to completely realize and help others embrace the untapped power and potential that lies within our differences. I love my weird and yours.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lorde
So... What does America mean to YOU?
Spread the word. Post your own self-portrait on Twitter or Instagram and tell us why YOU are America too. Make sure to tag @Blavity using the hashtag #IAmAmericaToo.
Learn more about the Creative Society.
Talk more about this with us on Thursday, November 3rd at 12pm PT | 3pm ET on Twitter.
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My uncle from Canada called me. The first words out of his mouth were not “How are you doing? What’s going on in your life?” Instead, his start-up conversation question was, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” As if that was the most pressing and important piece of information that he needed to know in that moment. I rolled my eyes and replied, “It’s nice to hear from you too, uncle!” I can’t tell you how many well-meaning family members call me and ask me that question within the first minute of our conversation. Once they discover that I'm still very single, the disappointment in their voices is palpable. They then begin to offer me unsolicited advice and promise to pray that I meet someone soon.
In the Haitian culture, not being married or having a serious boyfriend by your mid-twenties is often looked upon negatively and people start to seriously worry on your behalf. I often joke and laugh about this situation with my friends and cousins because they can relate — they also have had to suffer through awkward conversations about their singleness.
Last year, I was in a serious relationship that ended suddenly. It took me some time to grieve the relationship and move forward with my life, but it happened. Although it was hard, I finally got to a place where I not only owned my singleness, I actually, dare I say it, enjoyed it.
However, even though I'm in this content place, I'm annoyed that being single carries with it a certain stigma, especially for black women. In fact, whenever black woman singleness is mentioned in the media, it’s deemed as a “crisis” and the “blame” is put on us. However, the 2010 U.S. Census showed that about 49 percent of black men ages fifteen and older were not married in comparison to about 46 percent of black women. As Author of The Sisters Are Alright, Tamara Winfrey Harris noted, “If discussion of the black marriage crisis were driven simply by concern that the black community had access to the societal and economic benefits of matrimony, then surely time devoted to dissecting the problems of unmarried black men would equal talk about unmarried black women.” But it’s not, and it’s black women who are told to fix themselves in order to be deemed more of marriage material.
But being single is not a problem. I repeat, being single is not a problem. It's most certainly not your problem or my problem; it’s their problem. I enjoy the freedom that I have and my newfound confidence. I don’t wait for others to give me permission to do something or to go somewhere, I give myself that permission.
Although I do want to get married one day, I'm not waiting until then to start being my best self and living my best life. That moment is already here — that moment is now.
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Serena Williams is, hands down, one of the greatest athletes of all time — with the most Grand Slam match wins EVER — not to mention one of the most influential people in the world. Yet, haters have still found a way to target her. But in a new interview with The Fader, she's opening up about how she deals with them — and it's one more reason she's the definition of goals.
"I’ve purposely tuned people out since I was 17," Serena tells The Fader. "At the time, it was basically newspapers and maybe a website article. Maybe if the web was up back then. Since the day I won the U.S. Open, my very first Grand Slam, I never read articles about myself. If I saw my name mentioned, I’d look away. I looked at the pictures, but that’s pretty much it. I didn’t want to get too cocky, and at the same time I didn’t want to have that negative energy. I don’t know why I did it, but I did it. Ever since then I’ve been really low-key."
Serena prescribes to the belief that living well begins with loving yourself — and the rest is just noise. "People have been talking about my body for a really long time," she says. "Good things, great things, negative things. People are entitled to have their opinions, but what matters most is how I feel about me, because that’s what’s going to permeate the room I’m sitting in. It’s going to make you feel that I have confidence in myself whether you like me or not, or you like the way I look or not, if I do. That’s the message I try to tell other women and in particular young girls. You have to love you, and if you don’t love you no one else will. And if you do love you, people will see that and they’ll love you too."
Head over to The Fader to read the rest of Serena's cover story.
This isn’t the first time Serena has talked about handling body shamers and loving her body. She recently told SELF that “I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me. Because I’m going to influence a girl who does look like me, and I want her to feel good about herself.”
And then, of course, who could forget her amazing response at a recent press conference to a reporter who said “there will be talk about you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time”? Serena’s response was absolutely perfect: "I prefer the words 'one of the greatest athletes of all time.'"
This post was originally published on Teen Vogue.
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Black women and girls sometimes live, work and grow up in areas that welcome neither our blackness nor our womanhood. But At The Well creates an environment for current 10th and 11th grade black girls to find themselves, each other, and a healing space to discuss their collective experiences.
The premise is simple – provide space and learning opportunities for black girls from all over the country to share their collective experience, to grow as leaders, and then send them back to their communities to make a difference using everything from test prep, to using academic papers on feminism in Beyonce’s Lemonade, to heart-to-heart conversations
The academy started in 2011 with a focus on academics after Rev. Jacqueline Glass, Founder, graduated from Princeton’s seminary program. She was inspired after noticing that her own daughter was gifted, but did not perform well on standardized tests. At The Well quickly evolved over the years to also include a focus on leadership, womanhood and culture. About 50 girls attend the program at Princeton University in July for two weeks every year. The program grew this year, and in 2017, At The Well will also operate at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Application requirements are listed on the website. The cost of the program is less than similar Ivy League programs, and scholarship options are available.
Blavity spoke with founder Rev. Jacqueline Glass and intern Melissa Lyken from At the Well to learn more.
Blavity: How did this program come about?
Jacqueline Glass: It was started as a mission to give back. We seek to empower young women to become effective leaders globally. We want them to make a difference in their community. They go back and advocate for themselves and their community.
B: Where are the girls coming from?
JG: They are coming from all different spaces. There were more girls from the upper middle class this past academy and one of the reasons is we lost one of our funders. We weren’t able to give the type of scholarships that we’ve given in the past. A lot of energy is going toward fund development so that we can reach the population we originally intended to reach. But we do get girls from all geographic locations and socio-economic backgrounds.
B: Your focus is to also bring together girls who may be the only, or one of very few, black girls in their school to talk about what it’s like to be in that environment and help build some sense of community there. What do the girls share about microagressions in their schools and how do you help them address it?
JG: Some of the girls expressed they’ve never been in a room with so many girls that look like themselves. We give them space to talk about it, to discuss it, to talk about what it is [microagression]. They may not know how to react to it or how to identify it. They may not know how to address it. We give them space to know they aren’t the only one. There is a commonality in their experience.
B: Melissa – you lead some of the heart-to-heart discussions for the girls. Tell me more about what the girls experience in their schools.
Melissa Lyken: They have so much to share with regards to some of the things that their classmates, their teammates and counselors have said to them. A few girls said their counselors outright called them the n-word. They really love the space to sit there and hold each other. Some of the girls are crying and someone will say something similar like that happened to me on my campus.
It’s really difficult when you’re in school and your very identity is being questioned. Your very personhood. It creates a community and a sisterhood that "I’m not alone." And they discuss what they can do about it when they go back to school...These spaces are definitely healing spaces and organizing spaces. We can talk about self-care and how to combat these issues.
B: What do you hope the legacy of this program will be for young girls?
JG: I hope to gather a sisterhood of dynamic girls that we help them believe in themselves and to think more highly in themselves. They don’t always see the promise in themselves that others see. My expectations that they are able to live the lives they envision for themselves. I came across a conversation at lunch three years ago between two girls. They were talking scientifically about how to reduce those cancer cells and that the cancer can be cured. That’s the type of legacy that I want to leave. That they have the space to be who they are. They need to know they are wonderfully and magnificently made.
I also had a chance to talk with Braxton, a high school student in Georgia and a former participant in the At The Well program. Braxton is heavily involved in school. She’s the current student body president, captain of the varsity track team and a member of other academic clubs in school. Braxton is starting a clothing company for women in male-dominated sports and followed up on her experience in the At The Well program by creating a mentorship group for girls at her school.
B: What do you love most about school?
Braxton: With the positions that I'm in, I have the ability to influence change, equality and fun in my community and my school.
B: What made you apply for this program even though you do attend a mostly black high school?
Braxton: I applied to expand my critical thinking. I wanted to learn more about myself and I wanted the chance to expand my thinking about women of color. In school, we only talk about issues that scrape the surface of black people. I wanted to dig deeper, and I got that at At The Well. Even though our demographics are majority black, we still struggle to make sure that everybody’s voice is heard.
B: What was your favorite aspect of this program?
Braxton: We had floor discussions. I learned a lot about myself and things I never imagined learning. Colorism, cultural appropriation, black hair and black love. I was able to share my experiences and we could talk about how we deal with racism and issues. Through this, I was able to connect with the experiences of other dark skinned women like myself. I also learned about things I never imagined enduring like the girls who are the only black person in their schools.
B: How was the work different than what you experience at school?
Braxton: The work they give you at school doesn’t always pertain to you. Like we had to analyze Lemonade. We didn’t mind that we had to read 20 articles that night because it related to us. One of our papers was a list asking us to identify examples of white supremacy. It’s the subtle things. It was mind blowing to me, because I didn’t think about it. It just seemed like stuff that happened every day. We wrote about different people that are like us...that look like us.
B: How did this program inspire you?
Braxton: Through the topics we discussed and learning different things about my history. I started my freshman and senior mentoring program called Black Girls United. There is a mentoring program at my school but it isn’t for people of color. Not purposefully, but that’s just how it is. I was struggling to figure out what we could talk about and what could connect us. At The Well helped me shape my program.
After completing the program, Braxton continues to use her experience to build up her mentoring program. She even won an award from the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Girls Who Rule the World foundation. Check out Braxton’s small business and mentorship program on Instagram @girls.got.game and @Black.Girls.United
Program like At The Well are essential to our community. If you're interested in supporting this program, applying, or finding out more, please visit At The Well or connect with At The Well on Facebook or Twitter .
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It's called the "safe route" for a reason. There's a system in place, and if you follow the rules, your chances of success — whatever that looks like for you — are all but guaranteed. But what if your dream doesn't fit the norm? What if checking the boxes doesn't work for you? For everyone out here in pursuit of a nonconventional path, one that makes people question your sanity and decision making, where do you draw the line between optimism and delusion? That's not a rhetorical question. I honestly don't know the answer, but I will say, for me at least, I can't be a skeptic. I refuse to allow any negative experience or collection thereof to dictate my outlook on life.
I will dream big, love hard and believe unapologetically — always.
I will not be a victim of apathy. Instead I choose to trust completely and lean not unto my own understanding. Experience has taught me that provision always meets me there as reward for my faith. So I intentionally elevate my expectations beyond my means to achieve them and build my plans strategically with a dependence on the supernatural to accomplish them.
I will risk delight over doubt every time. I will love like I’ve never known heartbreak and trust as if I’ve never been betrayed. I’ll give in spite of the potential for exploitation, a practice not to be mistaken for naivety, but born of the understanding that the recipient’s objective is none of my business. Malicious intent bares the consequence upon itself.
I will rebel against negative mindsets, allowing no manner of disappointment to rob me of optimism. I'll waste no energy on the disdain of the realist or the contempt of the pessimist, because I know that their mocking sarcasm is not without pragmatic justification. It’s just that I understand instinctively that distrust doesn’t protect me from hurt any more than complacency averts disappointment, and the habitual focus on the negative elevates evil above the divine and seems only to manifest the very outcome it seeks to avoid.
So, at the end of the day, I will not be a cynic. I won’t allow any judgment or limiting belief to infiltrate my attitude. Optimistic or delusional? Call it what you want, but I will continue to go hard, dream big and trust completely, cleansing any residue of self-doubt from my mentality.
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The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you’re constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for...
Many of us wake up early, get the kids ready for school, then head to work where we spend eight hours being the lesser paid (but equally intelligent) wing woman to a coworker (who is likely white, male or both). During lunch, the bestie calls to catch up on life and vent. After work, we come home to wait hand and foot on bae while making sure the kids are finishing their homework. While preparing dinner, we throw in that last load of laundry. By the time dinner is ready, it’s too late to go to the gym, so we feed ourselves with a laxative tea and sleep with a waist-cincher. After all, we’ve got to keep it right and tight for the viewing pleasure of others.
As black women, we do it all.
We are loving daughters, nurturing mothers, supportive partners, successful businesswomen, determined students and innovative entrepreneurs. But once we get home and the cape comes off, what happens to the burdens that are left for us to bear? Who is there to pick up our pieces when the madness of the world leaves us depleted of energy and hope? Finally, why are we afraid to admit when something just doesn’t feel right?
The stigma of a black woman being typecast as a certain character doesn’t have to be accurate. The truth is, many of the circumstances that cause us to neglect our mental health are because of systems put in place that never intended to assist us in the first place. Although addressing the stereotypes alone certainly will not cure any conditions, it's a necessary first step in figuring out the "why."
The stereotypes behind the stigma
Dating back to U.S. slavery, each plantation had Mammy: The black woman convinced that everyone else’s well-being mattered more than hers. The matriarch who suppresses her dreams to assist in fulfilling those of others around her, Mammy thrives on being the most obedient yet solid rock of a servant as possible. When it comes down to it, she’s clutch and people praise her for it. Behind closed doors however, her spirit is as equally worn out as her hands and feet. A tired life of failing to practice self-care causes her to become numb to her own desires.
Another popular stereotype within the black community is the Jezebel: Someone with an unhealthy appetite for lust and sex. As a child, perhaps, she was badly mistreated and abandoned by the paternal figure in her life. Because of this, she builds a mental wall as protection from any future chance of heartbreak. This complex leads her down an exhausting life path of finding love in all the wrong places. She has adapted to enduring mental — and sometimes physical — abuse from her partners. Over time, her sense of self-worth and purpose completely exit her soul.
Then there’s the modern day Sapphire: A black woman who wears a chip on her shoulder. She has a tendency of spewing hatred and bitterness, especially in relationships. She enjoys using aggression to bully and emasculate. She is deemed the ‘angry black woman’ to society. At home, she hates the person she has become, although she feels she has no control of her emotions.
While Hollywood chooses to tell one side of the story of the black woman, it rarely considers the state of her mental health.
Anxiety, mood, psychotic, eating, impulse control, personality, obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders impact millions of women in the black community. Scientific data wants us to believe that the mental health conversation is an all-encompassing umbrella that shouldn’t be race-specific due to a lack in evidence, when in fact, race might actually be the biggest factor. According to Mental Health America, 6.8 million African Americans have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and the number among black women in the U.S. is probably much greater than reported. The social stigma surrounding our community might turn some away from seeking the proper help. We are so used to displaying unwavering strength to the public that we only further separate ourselves from the idea of wholeness we strive to maintain.
Since childhood, we learn to consistently internalize certain feelings for the sake of those around us. We grew up watching the maternal figures in our family braving any and every potentially meltdown-worthy situation, from finances to illnesses. The cycle has continued and needs to stop. We don’t have to be defined by the stereotypes; it's possible to break through to the other side and achieve total peace of mind. By first acknowledging the stereotypes behind the stigma, we can begin an open dialogue. And from that point, we can choose to overcome our fears of weakness or vulnerability.
Yes, we are black women and we can do it all. But we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when we need it.
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I know if your grandmother or great auntie are anything like mine, you’ve heard them exclaim, “Chile, you just have to love some people from afar!” But we probably didn’t pay them any mind when they said this…we just think about their clever proverbs once we hit THAT situation. Why wait until we are in the situation before we take heed to their advice? It’s because we don’t want to accept the fact that maybe bae or your best friend or your grandparent needs to be loved from afar.
Loving someone up close
When you love someone up close, you can't help but see them for who they really are. There are no trick mirrors being held up in front of you, they can’t hide from who they truly are. Stuff gets real up close! You see all of their flaws, of course, but we’ve all been taught to look and love past those flaws. But what if those flaws affect you and your mental state of peace? Should we wrap them in the swaddling clothes of our love, adoration and grace, giving them chance after chance to prove the only thing they are capable of doing correctly is shattering our peace of mind? In the reassuring words of Bishop Bullwinkle, “HELL NAW to the naw, naw, naw!” Oh, don’t act like y’all forgot about him!
Peace of mind is EVERYTHING
I’m all about keeping the peace at all costs. I firmly advocate being the boss of all your relationships whenever possible. Nobody can love you like you can, boo! This isn’t saying that you still can’t love that person. If you love someone, I don’t think you ever stop loving them, the type of love you have for them changes. Your love for them becomes more impersonal. You should love them for the great memories you once had with them, how special they made you feel once upon a time. That should be when you start loving them from afar. Wish them well, pray for them, do whatever it is you have to do for yourself. I just need for you to love yourself more than you love them! Stop making excuses for their behavior. Yeah, some people change, but you should let them change without your assistance. Keep peering from afar if you want to. If they’ve changed, you’ll be able to see it from all the way up in the 600 level of the stadium.
What about loving family from afar?
If this is a family member, it’s a bit more challenging to love them from afar. But honey, when it comes to your well-being, be a little selfish. Loving a family member from afar can very much so be accomplished, you’re just going to have to establish boundaries of exactly how many meters away you want to love them. Limit your interactions with them, call on the holidays if you're comfortable with that, but never feel like you have to fake the funk to appease a family member.
If that person asks you why you seem so distant, don’t be afraid to tell them you love you more. They have to accept that fact, what are they going to do about it? They created this situation and have to live with the consequences. Leave the conversation at that and keep going about your business. They determined their presence in your life already, so now it’s time for you to fill that presence with something or someone new.
How do you love people from afar? Let us know in the comments below!
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