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Inspiration

This Video Is A Reminder That Safe Spaces & Vulnerability Are Key To Our Collective Healing

Recently, Candice Brathwaite-Aboderin posted an IG reel sharing a vulnerable moment she experienced at the dentist's and how she deeply appreciated the care her doctor provided. As I watched Brathwaite-Aboderin’s tears roll down her face, it brought back an almost identical moment I had at the dentist roughly a year ago. The numbing gel they used didn’t work the way it should have, and the pain of the following injection was truly unbearable.


Though I’m not one who’s normally afraid of the dentist, that moment in my doctor’s chair triggered a flood of emotions from various instances throughout my life when I was in pain but wasn’t allowed to express those feelings. Just as Brathwaite-Aboderin’s dentist, mine wiped my tears and was very comforting at that moment, which further shocked my system because, as a Black woman, that’s not the response I’m used to receiving when I’m in pain.

When I later discussed this moment with my therapist, I explained to her that I didn’t even realize I needed to be comforted in such a way because I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t something I was ever going to receive.

Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, licensed psychologist and founder of Therapy for Black Girls, says, “For so long society has told us that as Black women we have to hold it all together and rarely show emotion that I think it has left many of us out of touch with our feelings which is why we can be so taken aback when we experience genuine acts of kindness and care.”

Brathwaite-Aboderin shared a similar sentiment in her caption, “We are so accustomed to watching Black women in defense mode or having to challenge and fight for themselves that when we see raw emotion from them, it often highlights the lack of humanity we decide to give them.”

“We are so accustomed to watching Black women in defense mode or having to challenge and fight for themselves that when we see raw emotion from them, it often highlights the lack of humanity we decide to give them.”

I speak to the lack of humanity Black women are allotted by society through conversations centered around misogynoir and the variety of ways it manifests in our lives, whether that be through domestic violence, the way Black women are vilified for being their authentic selves, or how our vulnerability is an act of resistance against the systemic racism, and sexism Black women face daily.

Yet, a piece of this conversational puzzle that is often missing is how do we, as Black women, find and maintain spaces of safety in a world that often expects us to be superheroes?

Rhonda Richards-Smith, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and wellness expert, says “The more Black women engage in therapy and community healing spaces, the more comfortable we become with sharing our vulnerabilities, fears and needs with those we are closest to.” Richards-Smith continues, “As we embrace our humanity, we gain a greater understanding that we are more than deserving of having our wants, needs, and desires met.”

Black women are collectively beginning to metaphorically take off our capes and share the reality that we’re not always okay. In a recent clip shared from Selling Sunset, Amanza Smith and Chelsea Lazkani share a vulnerable moment on how Black women are taught to hide their pain and suffer in silence. Smith shared that “she didn’t want to have to do that anymore,” and how she wants to share the moments she’s struggled in the past with others so they can see they’re not alone and that there is space for their healing.

Bradford says, “It’s important for us to be vulnerable…it frees us and allows us to connect more deeply with our feelings, but it also creates a space for those around us to share more authentically.” Richards-Smith echos this sentiment, “Many Black women suffer in silence, which unfortunately furthers the Superwoman Syndrome phenomenon. By sharing our personal stories of healing and vulnerability with our communities in safe spaces, we give others courage to do the same.”

"By sharing our personal stories of healing and vulnerability with our communities in safe spaces, we give others courage to do the same."

As Black women continue to be honest about the impact daily microaggressions have on us, whether it’s Beyoncé sharing in her latest documentary Renaissance, “I feel like, being a Black woman, the way people communicate with me is different ... Everything is a fight. It’s almost like a battle against your will,” or Megan Thee Stallion producing songs like "Cobra" discussing her battles with mental health, Black women on a micro and macro level are beginning to create spaces for each other to fully exist in our humanity unapologetically.

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Featured image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

 

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