As Black women, we’re tasked with doing so much in the workplace, at home and for the community at large. Many of us proudly take on the “strong Black woman” identity, which suggests we can bear the weight of the world on our shoulders and not break a sweat. But Taraji P. Henson is here to explain why this mantra can actually be damaging to our long-term mental health.
During an ESSENCE Wellness House segment presented by Ford called “Black Women in the Workplace,” the award-winning actress left us with an “amen”-worthy response about why the superwoman complex is damaging for Black women.
“It came as a thing to empower us,” she says. “But then, as years go on, we’ve been ignored because of that very statement. It dehumanized us, our pain; it belittles our tears. We’re supposed to be able to watch our brothers, sons and fathers be murdered in the streets. But we can take it because we’re ‘strong.’ We can deal with it. And that’s just not true. I have issues with titles like that and ‘black girl magic’ because we’re not fairies. We don’t magically rebound from our pain. We hurt and suffer just like others.”
Henson goes on to say that the stereotype that Black women can withstand anything leads to larger societal issues, like discrimination in emergency rooms and deadly experiences in the maternal ward. Ultimately, Henson wants Black women to know that “real strength is in vulnerability.”
Watch the empowering clip below.