Black women have the unique task of dealing with the daily struggles of school or work, all while facing larger systems of societal oppression. Because of this, it is vital that we take care of ourselves—not out of selfishness or self-indulgence, but as an act of self-preservation. Self-care isn’t just limited to taking relaxing baths with lush bath bombs and meditating or doing yoga. An important component of self-care is learning when to say no and learning when and how to stand up for yourself. This means that it’s important we recognize our rights and never allow anyone to shame us into silence about the issues that we must face on a day to day basis. Here are five things that dark-skinned black women should never have to apologize for:
1. Being Angry
One of the most frustrating parts of being a black woman—especially a dark skinned black woman—is having to deal with constant messages from the people around us and mainstream media, about how our hair textures, bodies and features are simply not good enough. For years’ black women were consistently ridiculed for our big lips, while our cornrows and dreadlocks were considered unkempt and “ghetto”. Yet, on white women, big lips and hairstyles that are traditionally worn by black women are not only trendy, but can be a catalyst for a career in beauty or music. Moreover, black women also have to fend off insensitive, misogynistic comments from both black men and non-black men who seem to enjoy mocking our facial features, skin tones, hair types, weight and attitudes.
Black women have many reasons to be angry at the world and if you need to, take time to scream into a pillow, cry in the shower, talk out your anger with understanding friends, or speak to a professional counsellor. However, it’s also helpful to remember that while your anger is completely understandable and justified (and you have the right to deal with it as you choose) remaining in a place of anger and resentment, will only put your sense of worth, self-esteem and mental health at risk. After you’ve allowed yourself to feel anger, make sure to focus on doing activities that you enjoy and spend time with positive, affirmative people who will help you carve a safe space for yourself in this fundamentally flawed society.