Lisa Respers France, CNN, August 1, 2021
The other day I shared a meme that stoked a lot of emotion.
In it, there are pictures of three superstar athletes — tennis player Naomi Osaka, gymnast Simone Biles and track and field sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson — along with a sign that reads, “Y’all Not Gone Stress Us Out — Black Women Everywhere.”
They are women of color (Osaka has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father while Biles and Richardson are African American) and have made headlines recently due to decisions they made to support their mental health.
All three also have something in common which I very much understand — the struggle women of color face in exercising self-care.
As I wrote in the caption of the meme I shared on Instagram, it’s hard being a Black woman.
“We are supposed to save relationships, families, elections, communities, democracy and basically the world all while exhibiting “black girl magic,” but y’all mad when we save ourselves?” I wrote. “Welcome to a new day.”
The heavy load is made worse by the fact that as Black women, we are not socialized to give as much care to ourselves as we are expected to give to others.
Black women are literally expected to be super women, from heading households to serving as emotional support for White people who want to be allies, but need our help figuring out how to get there.
A 2018 study titled “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images” from Morgan State University in Baltimore examined how they must navigate both racism and sexism in order to become champions.
Both Osaka and Biles dropped out of competitions, they said, to protect their mental health and Richardson was disqualified from competing after testing positive for cannabis.
All are sending a clear message: They are taking care of themselves.
So call it dropping out, quitting or even breaking the rules if you want. What I call it is winning.