I’ve long reflected upon the unseen, inequitable experiences that Black women often talk about — sometimes in whispers and sometimes in lawsuits. These experiences are all macro- and microaggressions that shouldn’t happen yet happen over and over again.
As a Black, biracial therapist, educator, and anti-racist activist myself, I have come to recognize that these experiences are a result of Black women existing at the intersectionality of sexism and racism. All of it institutionalized, invisible, and a remnant of slavery.
The human toll of these stressors is immeasurable. Our minds, bodies, souls, success, wealth, and health rise and fall depending upon how other people treat us. We are not in control even though we try to be. Yet we cope. On one hand, one of the strengths of being a Black woman is that it allows me — allows us — to be seen as the cornerstone of the family, community, and society. On the other hand, this type of stress and expectation inevitably causes chronic exhaustion and the onset of physical and mental illnesses.
I work daily to see and acknowledge Black women in all of our glory and sometimes in our pain. Therapy helps. More money helps. Better health care helps. Better schools help. Less racism helps too. Until we achieve all these things? I see you, sista.
In everyday life, I see you…
1. To the Black woman who is struggling with depression but does not have time to seek care, I see you.
2. To the Black woman who was told by a teacher when she was little that she would never amount to anything but now you are successful, I see you.
3. To the Black woman who has internalized that she is not beautiful because she does not meet the Eurocentric views of beauty, I see you.
4. To the Black woman who is now in one of the most educated groups of people in the nation yet is constantly overlooked for high-level positions, I see you.
5. To the Black woman who had great health insurance, goes to the doctor, and has to be a fierce advocate for herself in order to get quality medical care, I see you.
6. To the Black woman who has the courage to go to a therapist and then is told she is exaggerating the racist experiences she has encountered, I see you.
7. To the Black woman who goes shopping for fun and is followed around the store because she looks suspicious, I see you.
8. To the Black woman who tirelessly volunteers in her community to help other kids and families in need, I see you.
9. To the Black woman who knows she shouldn’t but still puts in a lot of emotional labor in order to explain racism to her White friends and colleagues, I see you.
10. To the Black woman who worked really hard and has a high credit score but is still turned down for the bank loan to buy a house, I see you.
11. To the Black woman who has no choice but to use what little free time she has left to march and advocate for Black lives, I see you.
12. To the Black woman who gives the only money she has left to help others desperately in need, I see you.
13. To the Black woman who has been sexually assaulted and not believed, I see you.
14. To the Black woman who is told she just needs to straighten her natural hair and she will be pretty, I see you.
15. To the Black woman who is told she “is attractive for a Black woman,” I see you.
While with your family, I see you…
16. To the Black woman who has to consistently be vigilant and advocate for her Black babies at school, I see you.
17. To the Black woman who finds herself spending hours tutoring her children to catch them up to grade level because they are enrolled in a failing school and she can’t afford private education, I see you.
18. To the Black woman who fights against all odds to give her kids access to a good education, I see you.
19. To the Black woman who sends her child to a predominantly White school in hopes that her child could have access to a high-quality education but then has her child negatively labeled at that school, I see you.
20. To the Black woman who not only takes care of her immediate family but also cares for her mother and other family members, I see you.
21. To the Black woman who takes in her brother’s kids because her brother is a victim of the new Jim Crow system, I see you.
22. To the Black woman who is worried every day that her sons will be perceived as a threat and hurt by police, I see you.
23. To the Black woman who loses her daughter to gun violence, I see you.
24. To the Black woman who moves to a predominantly White neighborhood in hopes that the area would provide good housing, nice parks, and a decent school for her family but is always questioned about whether or not she lives there, I see you.
25. To the Black woman whose son has been wrongly incarcerated because he is accused of possessing marijuana but hears her White colleagues joke about their marijuana smoking days, I see you.
26. To the Black woman who wants to relocate her family but struggles to find a new neighborhood with good, quality schools that is not racist, I see you.
27. To the Black woman whose daughter was kidnapped but never had her daughter’s story make the news and was told, “Your daughter must have run away,” I see you.
While at work, I see you…
28. To the Black woman who endures institutionalized racism and sexism on a daily basis while at work for fear of losing her job, I see you.
29. To the Black woman who has to change her given name on her resume so that she can even be considered for the position, I see you.
30. To the Black woman who works harder than most of her co-workers but never gets the recognition she deserves, I see you.
31. To the Black woman who works 50 or more hours a week at minimum wage and yet is called a welfare queen, I see you.
32. To the Black woman who isn’t allowed to share her true feelings or opinions in the workplace for fear of being perceived as angry, I see you.
33. To the Black woman who wants to open her own business but faces institutional racism every step of the way, I see you.
34. To the Black woman who is always asked to be on the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee at work, I see you.
35. To the Black woman whose brilliant idea shared in a meeting is overlooked but moments later watches the same idea presented by her White, male colleague be warmly embraced, I see you.
36. To the Black woman who is exhausted and tired but cannot afford to take a vacation because her job does not give her benefits, I see you.
37. To the Black woman who works by nurturing and caring for other people’s children and, as a result, spends more time with them than her own children, I see you.
38. To the Black woman who works tirelessly as an essential worker during the pandemic and exposes herself and her family to Covid-19, I see you.
39. To the Black woman who goes back to work two weeks after she has given birth because she is not entitled to paid maternity leave, I see you.
40. To the Black woman who is told that she needs to change her hairstyle to look professional, I see you.
41. To the Black woman who does not get a day of rest because she has to work seven days a week, I see you.
42. To the Black woman who has to train her new boss because she is much more qualified than her supervisor, I see you.
43. To the Black woman who is good enough to be an adjunct but somehow never qualifies for the full-time position, I see you.
44. To the Black woman who teaches and pours countless additional hours of labor into her Black students because she’s one of the only Black teachers at the institution, I see you.
45. To the Black woman who has to code-switch on a daily basis, I see you.
In everything, I see you….
46. To the Black woman who has been invisible for so long…
47. To the Black woman whom everyone can always depend on…
48. To the Black woman who never gets to rest or heal…
49. To the Black woman who sacrifices herself…
50. To the Black woman who persists in spite of everything, know that your struggle is being seen, heard, and believed. Know that this is not your fault. Shake off the blame, shake off internalizing that you are not worthy. For you are more than worthy. Know that this has been a burden that has been put on you and that you deserve more. The systems in which we exist have chosen to put us in this place. In this era of discussions about anti-racism and equity, we need to demand change, we need to demand more, we need to demand equity. Damn it—we deserve it!
I’ve heard your stories, I believe your stories, and I see you. Really, I see you. We all deserve more. And as a Black woman therapist, I am here to tell you that while we can’t all fix these issues by ourselves, we can certainly talk about them and acknowledge the invisible man-hours we put in so that one day, perhaps we will be in a position to finally embrace a solution that fully embraces us back.