Black women as healers
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Black Women As Healers: Challenging The Strong Black Woman Archetype

May 2, 2024

Freedom to well-being is a form of liberation for the Black community. An ode to the ancestors who were denied the privilege to explore healing. Oftentimes we don’t recognize the monumental confinement society has placed on the Black culture, merely because we are so accustomed to the pressure of systems not meant to benefit us. Our collective struggle has made us dig deep to find ways to free ourselves from the ignorance of societal programming and limiting beliefs about us as Black people. Stained in the stereotypes of a history rich in racism, these derogatory misinterpretations of our people are rooted in colonization and used to deteriorate our self-awareness. What is this well-being our community deserves to freely explore? Well-being is the state of being comfortable, healthy, happy, and successful. As Black women healers continue to rise to stand in their power, they’re faced with the ripples of karma through outdated ideologies and confronted with the “Strong Black Woman” archetype as they find ways to embrace the softness to show up for others while reclaiming their truth. 

Let’s look at the birthplace of civilization. “Our species emerged in Africa more than 300,000 years ago,” so Mama Africa birthed humanity. In the book God is a Black Woman, author, social psychologist and theologian Christena Cleveland PhD, expresses her disdain for the “whitemalegod” she was indoctrinated to worship. Cleveland details her personal journey of questioning her faith that brings her to embark on a 400-mile-long pilgrimage in France to discover “the Sacred Black Feminine,” including figures like the Black Madonna. In the Egyptian pantheon, Asuet or Isis is the first deity to give birth to a child through immaculate conception which later becomes depicted in the Christian story as the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mother Mary. The Black Madonna, was born from Auset “symbolizing the mother and child from the Ancient Egyptian myth.” She can be found in France, Spain, Russia, Jerusalem and other places. “Many images of the Black Madonna still exist today,” but at one time 450 were reported, mostly in Europe. So why has this significant figure and the image of the divine Black mother been suppressed? According to Cleavand, “The liberation of all Black women requires the dismantling of all systems of oppression–white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and more.”

Archetypes like the “Strong Black Woman” have created a double-edged sword, leading to hyper-independent sisters silently suffering from mental health issues like anxiety and depression while feeling obligated to over-accommodate or perform no matter their bandwidth. This glorified archetype depicts the proud Black woman who can withstand any hardships and persevere despite all odds to accomplish her goals. Applauding the resilience of the Strong Black Woman while it fails to understand the suffering and inner damage this title brings us. The lack of support that results from the systemic backlash of this archetype in a society that can’t sympathize with our pain. It results in an absence of compassion or empathy for Black women expressing our struggles, truth, and stories. Take Megan Thee Stallion for example. She was shot by Tory Lanez, who was convicted of assault. But Megan’s pain wasn’t accounted for by some industry artists. In 2022, Drake and 21 Savage bashed Megan for the State of California persecuting Lanez in their song “Circo Loco” where Drake raps “This bitch lie ‘bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion.” Fans retaliated in defense of Megan claiming the track was in poor taste. In an interview for The New York Times, Megan shared “Black women are still constantly disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life.”

Even though we carry it well, it doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy. As Black women take on the role of healer they are connecting to their divine inner mother, the nourishing provider and fierce feminine protector who embraces the soft girl era. Brittany Simone Anderson, a Clinical Yoga Therapist sharesFreedom to Well Being is our goddess-given right to thrive…I also believe it is our inheritance to thrive and be well.” However, the constraints of the Strong Black Woman and structural racism trickle into the wellness field and will require awareness to fully be released. As a medicine woman and healer for over a decade, I have been on a transformative journey to deprogram the stereotypes of my Blackness through the lens of Western colonization. Through my process, I birthed Akashic Remedies to hold space for others exploring ancestral healing. I have met many Black healers on the path of self-understanding, peeling back the layers of self-sabotaging thoughts planted by society, and false awareness of ourselves. Anderson adds “To be a person of color is to be abundant and health is an abundance that we all should have access to. We as a collective have been misled into believing we must work or earn our right to be well, safe, and happy.” 

I find myself and other Black women healers on a constant search to discover the gentle, peaceful, healed, and joyous parts of ourselves. To change the narrative of our strength and embrace the freedom of vulnerability, allowing space to open to healing and releasing the expectations woven into our reality. So, how can we combat the Strong Black Woman Archetype as healers while honoring our power and liberating the burden associated with our strength? Read below for a shortlist of things Black women can do on their wellness journey’s to liberate themselves.

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Remember to fill your cup first to replenish others in your wholeness and to avoid burnout! Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine, where you maintain self-compassion and keep up your spiritual hygiene. 
  • Know your bandwidth: Set boundaries and know when it is time to take a step back as a healer, to return to your inner healing journey. Learn to say NO without guilt. Honor that you can’t support everyone ALL the time!
  • ASK FOR HELP: Healers need support from fellow practitioners, allies, and the community to nourish them. Don’t be so independent in your field that you create a lonely island for yourself.  
  • Cultivate Self-Awareness: Understand yourself as a Black healer. Celebrate all aspects of yourself, including your strengths, vulnerabilities, and cultural heritage.

To my fellow Black healers, your gifts and medicine are needed now more than ever. Share your knowledge and experiences to empower others in your community to be an advocate for change. As Anderson puts it “true liberation is an understanding that not only is it inherently ours, but when it’s taken away from us it’s our responsibility to take it back.”