Emergency Post: How ‘Holding it Down’ is Killing You

We’re the only women in America who are PRAISED for working like slavery is still legal, while raising children virtually alone with no support, told by our parents, extended family and friends that we need to get an education and support ourselves, not out of self-actualization, BUT out of PURE FEAR. Our parents tell us to be self-sufficient, because you can bet you’ll have to go life alone, meet someone long enough to procreate with, then eventually said person goes POOF! for a variety of reasons (proven; so don’t even bother trying to dispute it). We’re also told that while we do EVERYTHING, we should let our men lead, whether he works or not, is abusive or not, lazy or not, a cheater or not, and terrible business man or not, or a baby-mamma creator or not.

And now (and probably always) all this stress is taking a physical toll on our bodies. They even have a name for it: Sojourner syndrome.


Despite improvements in many aspects of health, African American women experience early onset of disease and disability and increased mortality because of health disparities. African American women experience stress and health disadvantages because of the interaction and multiplicative effects of race, gender, class, and age. Sojourner Syndrome is an illustrative and symbolic representation that describes the multiple roles and social identities of African American women on the basis of historical referents and adaptive behaviors that fostered survival and resilience under oppressive circumstances. Adaptive behaviors also precipitated health risks due to chronic active coping. Weathering describes the cumulative health impact of persistent stress and chronic active coping that contributes to early health deterioration and increased morbidity, disability, and mortality in African American women. An emancipatory knowing nursing perspective provides a viewpoint from which to examine social injustices that create conditions for the excessive health burdens experienced by African American women and to frame nursing actions that create opportunities to promote health and eliminate health disparities.

What the cuss is it going to take for us to realize that we are being duped, hoodwinked, sold down the river, beguiled, cheated and tricked out of our RIGHT to be feminine? I’m seriously spitting nails at my Mac right now, because “The Black Woman’s Burden” (aka Sojourner syndrome) is not new. It has ALWAYS been a matter of our very survival to take on so much. And then, during the late 1960’s the culture shift turned against what some folks called the matriarchy-led black society, and said it was now time for the men to lead–regardless of whether or not they were equipped enough to do so.

Now, I’m not against a man taking the lead. Especially if he’s bringing in the dough, makes good decisions–first for himself, then for me and his family– isn’t foolhardy and wants to spend our life’s savings on some ill-researched business venture. In other words, I’ll let you lead if you DESERVE TO BE FOLLOWED. Period; end of sentence.

Wake up. Just…wake up.

Black ladies, don’t think I’m giving you a pass. You must empower yourself and understand that you don’t have to passively WAIT for any old piece of man to show interest in you, then accept whatever scraps he gives you. And there is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING, wrong with choosing a mate who is financially capable to supporting you at least temporarily while you bear his children WITHIN wedlock. Every other race of women teaches their girls to do this. Animals INSTINCTIVELY know this.

Some of us need some serious de-programming. You CAN choose. You have a RIGHT to be loved by a emotionally healthy man. It is not gold-digging to want someone who is educated and gainfully employed. It is not your burden to help him raise his 50-11 kids out of wedlock. You are not a bitch. You are not a trick. You are not a ho. You are a woman. A WOMAN.

Special thanks to Eliss for bringing this study to my attention.


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