The rise of the COVID-19 virus has highlighted key issues that have always been evident but not necessarily focused on the extent to which they are now. From inequitable housing, unfair financial compensation allocated to workers deemed essential, and the lack of preparedness demonstrated by the U.S. government, this pandemic has been a lot. One exasperated issue in my community brought to the frontier involves Black women and their mental health. In general, the Black community lacks reverence for most psychological problems. They are often advising victims to sweep their issues under the rug or pray about them.
Existing at the intersection of race and gender, Black women disproportionately feel the effects of both racism and sexism. Due to tropes placed on us, reducing our character to just being strong or magical has made it hard for us to find spaces to heal and release our built-up trauma. For this reason, I have partnered with Grapevine. Grapevine is an organization focused on modern giving where participants can create “Giving Circles” to raise and allocate funds based on a passionate need. I have developed More Than Strong through Grapevine; a group centered around raising funds to support efforts focused on providing therapeutic and mental health services to Black women of all ages.
Here are the facts:
- Brandi Jackson and Aderonke B. Pederson, pillars in the Black mental community, told the Washington Post in an opinion piece that they are witnessing a high number of symptoms exhibited by Black women that could be attributed to depression, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.
- The non-profit Lean In did a study that demonstrated that “Black women are more likely than their white counterparts to have gotten laid off, furloughed, or had their hour/pay reduced compared to their white counterparts.”
- The Pew Research Center reports that since single Black mothers are taking on more caregiver roles, they are already dedicating countless hours pouring into other individuals and therefore neglecting themselves. In terms of COVID-19, a poll has determined that 31% of Black adults, compared to 9% of White adults, knew someone who died within the pandemic. This statistic is a lot to acknowledge. But, it is even more, to live with.
Sadly, there are not enough of us to solve these issues in our communities. Nor are most of the problems that affect the mental health of Black women caused by us. We are the victims of medical racism, the school-to-prison pipeline, and police brutality creating dysfunctional families. In the United States, only 2% of practicing physicians are Black women. Of that 2%, only a fraction of them are practicing psychiatrists or certified mental health professionals. That means that even if every single physician treated the Black women in their community, providing them with therapeutic and self-care services, they would soon be overwhelmed and need the services themselves.
How More Than Strong Can Help
Nevertheless, there is hope. More Than Strong is more than a funding campaign. It is about engaging communities outside of our own to care about this issue and find ways to contribute. Eventually, my goal is to redistribute the concept of More Than Strong and start Chapter organizations in different states, communities, college campuses, and more. Partnering with existing organizations such as Therapy For Black Girls, Black Mental Health Alliance, and the Okra Project is also a key goal to continue building a network of support for Black women. Each quarter we will be focused on raising $1,000 and more to contribute to existing mental health groups and encouraging people to become members that give monthly.
Where We Plan On Distributing The Funds
Community participation is an integral part of the Grapevine mission and a big part of building a network of members dedicated to supporting a cause. For this reason, nearing the end of the quarter, I will contact all members and donors to distribute a Google Form to suggest which organization(s) the funds are distributed to and why. This way, I can assure transparency and help people feel as much as part of the process as possible.
Being a Black woman can be heavy. Consider helping to lighten the load. Contributions can be made through my Grapevine Giving Circle, More Than Strong. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out via the contact information below.