Recently, I attended Black Girl in Om’s Self-Care Sunday and words cannot describe how wonderful it felt to be surrounded by women of color at various stages of our wellness journey. Simply put, it was everything I never knew I needed.
While in downward dog, I took a peek though my legs and looked back at all of the black and brown feet and hands behind me. The beauty of it nearly brought me to happy tears. I’m so used to being the “only chocolate chip in the cookie” as my mom would say, but this was the first time I was in a yoga class where the other students looked like me and that was powerful.
At the end of the yoga flow and guided meditation, we stood in a circle and shared what we were taking away from the session and someone said, “It’s okay not to be okay.” In my small group, we discussed the trope of the “strong Black woman” and how it can be more harmful than helpful.
As Jesse Williams said so eloquently during his acceptance speech at the 2016 BET Awards, “just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Whenever I think about the “strong Black woman” stereotype, I can’t help but remember Karyn Washington, the founder of For Brown Girls and the #DarkSkinRedLip Project. I’d never met Karyn in real life, but we followed each other on social media and I happily supported her work. So when I heard that she’d committed suicide in April 2014, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
How could someone who exuded such high self-esteem and self-confidence have taken her own life? We’ll never know. But what I do know is that there is strength in vulnerability. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to let go. It’s okay to not be okay.