By Coshandra Dillard
On Saturday morning, dozens of black women gathered for Coffee and Conversation —an event powered by Ebony Fowler’s Lush Group— to talk candidly about issues that affect them the most: finding support and inspiration, self-care, mental health, and living freely.
The gathering displayed the power of sisterhood.
A common thread among black women has always been the need to strike a balance: balance motherhood with personal ambitions; navigate corporate America while also embracing blackness; and holding the family together but letting go of the proverbial superwoman cape.
Last year, I wrote about the harms of adopting the “strong black woman” trope. I explained that the need to be unshakable and unbreakable leads to the deterioration of our mental and physical health.
In the spirit of that piece, I’ve broken down the top five take-aways from Saturday’s event, which reminded those in attendance that it’s OK to expose vulnerabilities and reach out for help.
1. Listen to black women. Listen to grievances. Ask her if she’s OK, wait for the answer and offer help if she isn’t. Take her serious and follow-up if she shows symptoms of despair, depression or physical illness. Learn about the #YouOkSis movement here.
2. Trust black women.
Black women have a knack for being intuitive and wise, so heed her advice, especially is she’s experienced what you are currently going through. Also, believe her when she reports violence and/or discrimination against her.
3. Stop shaming black women.
Black women are not a monolith. We have varying views, experiences, and perceptions. We can’t divide ourselves along outdated conforming lines. There is enough space for both an Ayesha Curry and a Cardi B. Let every woman live and be free to express her authentic self.
4. Support black women.
When black women put their minds together, things happen. Black women are influencers, innovators, educators, nurturers, yet often receive little credit or praise for their accomplishments. Malcolm X said it best: “The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
Support her ventures, her vision, and her efforts. If you support a black woman, chances are, you’re supporting an entire family and impacting an entire community.
5. Heal black women.
In the busyness of life, women, particularly mothers, tend to care for others before herself. Her concerns are often on the back burner. Take time to practice self-care, and make sure other black women are doing the same. Don’t let stigma keep you from admitting you need help or getting therapy.