To Be Female and Black: Their Mental Health in Today's Time
"As a black woman, I can't ever stop thinking about racism. It's not a choice; it's my reality. I think about the murder of black people every morning; When I wake up, when I leave my house, and when I jog around white neighborhoods." Natachi Onwuamaegbu's unfiltered article is a glimpse of what it's like as black women in America.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE MENTAL HEALTH OF BLACK WOMEN
7.5 million African Americans are diagnosed with a mental health issue. Black women are twice the reported numbers than black men. To be female and black means you're most likely to be discriminated against. Blatant or internalized racism, sexism, violence, and police brutality are classified to be the 'black women's common struggles.' These are underlying factors that can lead to a mental health issue.
1 - BLATANT AND INTERNALIZED RACISM
The slavery and abuse of Black men and women throughout the 17th and 18th centuries may seem distant. Despite that, its effect is primarily recognized as a factor that's still at play among black women and men. Family-related stress and social stress because of racism affects black women and their mental health daily; trauma can be passed down.
Racism exists when you see other people in a different racial cluster as someone 'below' you. It can be blatant or internalized.
One of the black women interviewed by Maura Cheeks, explained how she was traveling with her coworkers when she read about a police officer killing a person of color. This made her cry alone in her hotel bed and she mentioned it on a group chat with her coworkers. That same day, the conversation she initiated was passively dismissed and the focus was on a Hollywood couple that had broken up. No one checked on her well-being and she felt isolated.
Passive and blatant racism can cause internalized racism. This is a struggle felt by black women and men. Because of how they are made to feel about themselves, they form resentment toward themselves. This leads them to 'code-switch'; where they embrace the language and culture dominant around them. They eventually switch to their most authentic self when around black women and men.
While the prior situation is a form of passive racism, there are blatant forms. Racism can escalate into different types of violent acts. This can abruptly form violence, police brutality, and mostly for black women, sexual assault.
Ursula Burns, through her research, discovered that zero Black women are in charge of a Fortune 500 company. Her team figured out that it's merely because of race and gender.
Sexism is one of the factors that affect black women and their mental health. As white males largely dominate fortune 500 companies, your ideas get shut down as a woman and as a person of color. Unless you have someone known on your side, you won't be dealt with seriously.
Another research supported the struggle of black women in the workplace. It concluded that black women are extremely financially affected because of the combined gender wage gap and the racial wage gap. Black women have to work for two years without work leaves just to be able to earn what their white male counterparts are earning.
BLACK WOMEN AND THEIR MENTAL HEALTH
Black women are exposed to extreme situations that cause stress. From sexism to racism and violence, there's no unknown cause why black women experience mental health issues. That's why mental health agencies should give black women support.
Black women and men usually have untreated mental disorders because mental health services are too costly. With the systemic racism and sexism thrown at black women, they are forced to choose between putting food on their table or getting treatment for their mental problems. That should never be the case.
If you're female and black, you deserve to get affordable mental health treatment. You deserve to be given mental health support sufficient enough to help you recover.
If these words resonate with you, some agencies are dedicated to help you out. Your mental health should be a priority. Here are some agencies that can support you: