Tag Archives: family support

For My Father, I hope you can read

There is so much damage that can be done to a child who does not have the right tools as he/she grows.

Sometimes we have all the material things, a traditional family (mom, dad and child), one parent (a mom or a dad) or an adoptive parent (strangers who become your own flesh and blood) to help mold us into the person we are today.

The reality is there is a child somewhere who does not have any of these things.

The effects of an absentee parent can never be ignored. I am grateful enough to never had a biological father in my life and came out without any ‘daddy issues,’ as psychiatrists and people like to put it.

I had a grandfather who loved me as much as he loved his own children. An uncle, who every time he was around treated me like a daughter and not like a niece. A few random men who made it their duties to care for me emotionally and financially as if I were their child.

Maybe all of this saved me and for that I am thankful.

But daddy I have a few questions that have been boggling my mind:

  • what did I ever do for you to think I do not deserve to have you as a part of my life?
  • why do you think it was ok to not give me your love?
  • why do we have no bond, even though I tried to create one when I was older?
  • why is it so easy to go about your day without thinking of me?
  • why was is it so easy to take care of all the women in your life but not me?
  • why did we live minutes apart but you never showed up unless you were being paid to deliver sand at my house?
  • why did you be a father to my sister but not to me?
  • why did you not be a father to my other sister who is living with your parents but you are a father to another child who was born around the same time? Are we both excluded from your life because we have things in common?
  • why did it take a strange lady to encourage you to make me a part of your life?
  • why did you let my mom struggle even though you could afford to care for me financially?
  • why did you left your responsibility up to other men?
  • why did you had to let my aunts and uncle had to help my mom financially?
  • do you ever remember that you have a child who is existing in some part of the world?
  • why is it so weird that I do not think of you? Is it because you also do not think of me?

This is for my father and I hope you can read.

The Black Woman and The Weight on her Shoulders

There is so much stigma when it comes on to the expectation of who the black woman should be. For those who are black and a woman, if someone should ask you to describe who you are as a black woman, what would you say? I am sure that some of the words that you would use are: strong, powerful, beautiful, sexy, subservient, angry and resilient.

Angela Neal- Barrett (PhD) sums up the renowned characteristics of a black woman as being ‘The Strong Black Woman,” “The Angry Black Woman” and “The Jezebel/Video Vixen.” The first two adjectives are pretty straightforward. The latter may not be so plain sailing but for those who do not know it describes the black woman as a sexual being.

But are we only those things? Are we only capable of being those things? Why should it be rewarding to only be those things? Most importantly, why should we be ashamed to be vulnerable, depressed and speak about the burdensome circumstances that we have endured?

In fact, there are many studies that have conclude that black women are underrepresented in regards to addressing their mental health issues.

Today, I will no longer neglect the fact that many black women are suffering mentally.

As a black woman, have you ever wondered how it is so easy to sit with all of your friends and speak about your toxic relationship, about the man you are keeping who belongs to someone else or even the girl you are planning to attack?

It is, however, not so easy to sit and express to ALL of your same friends the things that keep you up at nights. To share with them how powerless, depressed and anxious you feel.

And someone somewhere may be saying, why do you have to bare it all to your friends. What about your family? The heart-wrenching truth is that while as a black person we say and act on the premise of family before others or family being everything, we are the first to hide our self-loathing and struggles from our family.

We do this because we are scared of their judgment. We do this because we fear how it may affect their perception of us. We do this because we are afraid that instead of advice we are given ultimatums.

Worse, if you are from a Caribbean background like myself, some of the first responses after self-expression to friends and family are usually nothing is wrong with you or why are you so dramatic or, the one I hate the most, there is someone somewhere who is going through worse situations than you.

Support like these will definitely push a turtle back in its shell.

In todays world, we have to be more mindful of the silent cry from our ‘strong,’ ‘angry’ and ‘sexual’ black women. Do not sweep the cry for help under our rugs because we think nothing should be too stressful for our friends, our mothers or our daughters. Society’s expectations of us have indeed cast a shadow on how in touch we are with our ‘negative’ emotions. But this definitely does not mean that we cannot try to start making a difference.

The most alarming thing in writing this article, is the discovery of the lack of evidence to support the topic of mental health in regards to Caribbean black women. I am sure somebody has done some research. But clearly it is so limited to the point that a search on google will take countless hours before you find a single article.

Of course, our solution does not lie in research. It lies with us. We have to start accepting that as a black woman we are not only confined to being strong, angry and sexual. We have to know that there is nothing wrong with addressing our personal struggles. We have to remove the negative stigma that is associated with seeking professional help that can save us from self-loathing and self-harm. We have to do this in order to remove the weight from our shoulders.

We should try and start today. Do it for ourselves. Do it for our children and our children’s children. I know it may sound cliche but we need to do this so that one day we may be able to break the racial and generational cycle.