I’m sure you’ve heard that black women are resilient and self-confident women that can hold it down even in the worst of circumstances. You’ve read poll after poll showing that black women rate themselves high on the hotness scale. That means we have amazing levels of self-love. Well, doesn’t it? Doesn’t high self-esteem do wonders for our ability to handle stress? If the answer is yes then something isn’t adding up. Recently, I explored an eye-opening and peer reviewed article showing that black women were in fact not handling stress very well. In other words, black women may be growing old gracefully on the outside but we’re growing old tragically on the inside. Black DOES crack. Take a look at this alarming quote:
Moreover, by age 30, black women exhibit greater risk of having high allostatic load scores than black men or than white men or women. This risk gap increases through midlife and is most severe among black women who are poor.
I’ll translate and simplify it for you: Black women experience more stressful “wear and tear” on their bodies than black men, white men, white women, and probably everyone else. It’s even worse if she’s poor. The compelling reason given was that black women were exposed to higher amounts of stress than white women. It doesn’t take a PhD to notice that. Stressors such as racial discrimination, financial problems, multiple caregiving roles, etc were aging black women biologically over seven years faster than white women. That’s because white women don’t experience such stress as often. In addition, young black women suffer from hypertension at higher rates than young white women. We don’t even have to leave it at hypertension. Our horrific rate of obesity is evidence all by itself. AGAIN, BLACK DOES INDEED CRACK.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you how bad, fat, or how much of an excuse maker you are. This society is tough on black women as it is so you don’t need me adding insult to injury. I AM going to ask you to stop and think about what you can do to beat the stress and live well. As painful as it is to hear, stressors such as poverty and racism aren’t going anywhere so we must figure out ways to overcome them.
It’s not enough that black doesn’t crack on the outside because wrinkles and gray hair won’t kill us. How can we keep “the black” from cracking on the inside?