Today is the day! It’s an important day-a significant day, and it marks one day of, wellness. For once, and during this time, people are coming together to honor a very important form of health, which has been too often ignored. There have been stereotypes and taboos, which have been associated with the very terms-mental health. Yet, as the world of becoming more open to the topic, the topic is becoming even more comfortable, with each and every moment.
World Mental Health Day 2021! Celebrated throughout every corner of the globe, the day takes on a different meaning for each individual, community, culture, and nation. During this time, humanity is granted the opportunity to check in with their personal wellness story. Knock. Knock. Have you minded your mental health today? It’s an important question. However, in the context of the hectic day and vibes, people ignore and take mental health for granted. Why is it ignored? What do people have to hide?
Issues pertaining to mental health takes on different meanings and purposes. For starters, the culture matters. Society shapes how people (and particular demographics) are permitted to connect with their mental health. And, that’s where it gets interesting, Ladies and Gentlemen. Afterall, mental health impacts people in different ways. There are myriad issues, which arise to the table. It takes on the form of race, gender, age, socio-economic status, nationality, and the list goes on. That’s where personal testimony comes on.
In Black American communities, the topic of mental health had been a stigma, for quite some time. Since the ending of slavery in the United States of America, there has been this hidden silence when it comes to addressing mental health (and wellness) with our communities. It’s painful because such meant a silent suffering. Staying strong in the midst of one’s emotional pain and turmoil. One of the most disgusting and inhumane comments, which has been projected against the Black American psyche is “get over it.” Get over slavery. Get over injustice. Get over. Get over. Get over. Forget about the holistic and emotional work, that is needed in the healing from PTSD and generational traumas and behaviors (inherited from slavery), just get over it. Really? Hmm. Another problem with such a statement is that it is ignorant of the fact of Black Americans having done, just that.
After the institution of slavery, Black American people technically “got over it” and moved forward with our lives. Building businesses. Establishing our own communities. Chasing dreams and building more. Yes. We did it all. Even surviving domestic terrorism. And still, the depth of healing went, unresolved. From generation to generation, the aura of the “strong, Black woman” had been passed down. Hypermasculinized depictions of Black American men were rampant. Then, there was the draining and exploitation of our energies. Frankly speaking, that can be far worse. Let’s explore a little further.
From personal experiences, and discussions with other Black American women, this notion of carrying the entire world on our shoulders-without any help-has been played on for centuries. Even more, there are individuals who become offended (and shocked) when Black American women refuse to adopt such a role. “The nerve of them. Who do they think they are to take care of themselves?” It’s the traditional racist and sexist thinking that the femininity and humanity of Black American women should not be taken seriously. Right? “Afterall, how dare they think they have a right to marriage, affection, gentility, and to be treated with the manner of sensitivity as other women. They should know their place and be the dumping grounds for other people’s insecurities, low self-esteem, and personal shortcomings.” As ugly (and hidden) as these sentiments are, they are still present in the minds and hearts of those wanting to continue making them a reality. Somehow, different sectors within US society do not want to let go of the maid trodden, Mammy image, which has plagued the identity of Black American women and girls. Presenting Black American women as undeserving or “unneeding” of love, affection, and protection-especially, from her own culture of men-are prevalent images in society. The taunts and teasing from women outside of the community, in “taking” Black American men from Black American communities have also taken place, are other forms of microagressions and silent violence. Yet, regardless as to whether people want to hold onto these stigmas, or not, a great movement of Black American women and girls is taking place. It’s a movement dedicated to self-care, self-worth, and self-love. It is definitely in the atmosphere, and it’s growing, accordingly.
As a Black American woman (and maiden), personal experiences have led me to understand the necessity for boundaries; and the protection of one’s energies. Earlier, it had been noted about the exploitation of Black American women’s energies and spaces. There are individuals, who feel entitled to it. They feel entitled to exploit this feminine energy, and become aggressive when doing so. What’s even more atrocious is that such persons do not reciprocate the energy back. Energy drainers and depletors at its finest. Yes. Spiritual and emotional barriers are needed. They should be established, unapologetically. Forget about the explanations and proving to people that one is just in one’s thinking. None of that is needed. Emotional and mental walls are not always a bad thing. Sometimes, they can be a powerful tool in protecting one’s Being from negative and toxic individuals; especially, those sneaky individuals, who prey on a person’s open-mindedness (and outgoingness) for the purposes of gaining access to them to do harm.
Micro-agressions and silent sneakiness have often been projected on Black American women and girls. While it is aggressive energy and violence, it is painted as “cute” or “not meaning any harm.” And yet, when Black American women rebuke this nasty nice energy, they are painted as “violent” or “aggressive.” These provocations (in addition to the taunts of feeling as if one is getting away with it) are prevalent. And yet, Black American women are expected to quickly forgive and tolerate such nasty behavior. Forget about taking responsibility for their own behaviors, and working to right their wrongs. Seemingly, it’s always Black American women’s role to “handle the mistakes of other people.” Knock. Knock. It’s a new day and a new time.
For today’s Mental Health Day 2021, protection of one’s mental state is more than an action. It’s a natural right. For Black American women, specifically, if people wanted you to open up to them, they should have behaved better. Period. Enough said. They should have accepted your humanity and womanhood, without the intentions of ill will. Lastly, it is not your responsibility to “fix them,” or teach then of their wrongdoings, when they know the forms of toxicity, which has been projected against your very existence. There is a plethora of literature and resources, which addresses the her/history of violence, toxicity, and microagressions against Black American women and girlhood. Protect your energies and weed out toxic people, who are not supporting your holistic journey. No explanations. No apologies. No buts about it.
Knock. Knock. Black American Maidens and community. Have you nourished and protected your mental health, today? ?