Home Church Faithful utterances

Faithful utterances

Loads we carry

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Froswa’ Booker-Drew

As we exit Women’s History Month, it’s important that we not only focus on the successes and significance of Black women but also acknowledge the stresses and struggles. “Black Women are the Mules of the Earth” is a quote from Zora Neale Hurston who spoke through the heroine Janie Crawford in her 1937 book, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Black women have always carried a lot.

Some recent losses are a reminder of the weight that is taking a toll on us. Dr. JoAnne Epps died at an event on Sept. 19, 2023, at Temple University Hospital after falling ill during a memorial service on campus for historian Charles L. Blockson. She was scheduled to speak at the event and the event went on as planned.

At the age of 56, Dr. Orinthia T. Montague, president of Volunteer State Community College died on September 22, 2023. She had been president for two years.

Dr. Antoinette Candia-Bailey, 49, died by suicide on January 8, 2024. Lincoln University’s president, John Moseley, terminated her employment in the days before her death. Bailey said to her family and friends that she had been feeling depressed, and unsupported at work, and that her relationship with Moseley had soured.

We witnessed Dr. Claudine Gay’s resignation. Harvard Corporation, in a statement about her resignation said: “While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and, in some cases, racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls.”

Lesley Lokko, the former Dean of Architecture at CUNY, who resigned after nine months, stated in her letter: “No job is worth one’s life and at times I genuinely feared for my own. Race is never far from the surface of any situation in the U.S. Having come directly from South Africa, I wasn’t prepared for the way it manifests in the U.S. and quite simply, I lacked the tools to both process and deflect it. The lack of respect and empathy for Black people, especially Black women, caught me off guard, although it’s by no means unique to Spitzer. I suppose I’d say in the end that my resignation was a profound act of self-preservation.”

There is a problem that Black women are facing whether in academia or other industries. ‘Misogynoir’ is a term coined by author Moya Bailey in 2008, referring to misogyny directed towards Black women where race and gender both play a role.

Data demonstrates the challenges that we face often rooted in misogynoir. Black women still face significant wage disparities. Black women carry a heavier burden of student loan debt than any other group. Representation is limited in the work place in leadership roles despite the significant number of Black women obtaining degrees: Only four percent work in management and only 1.4% are in the C-suite.

We must accept that things will go on without us if we do not take care of ourselves.

As women, we have contributed so much to our homes, companies, and communities. In doing so, the toxicity creates stress that can take a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. If we are going to help others, we must make sure that we are taking care of ourselves.

Dr. Menah Pratt posted on LinkedIn reflections about the challenges Black women face in academia, but this applies to all of us. She states: “I suspect there is a correlation between the depth of our commitment to serve and the impact of the burden and responsibility we shoulder in the work.

There is a long history of Black women’s sacrificial service for their communities. We often put others first. So, let’s try to take care of ourselves as best as we can because no one can do that but us. Let’s be ‘all in’ for us, too.”

In a world that does not always see our value, we must remember our worth and how God sees us as well. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

Take care of your temple, sis. You are worthy, despite a world that may not see or appreciate you.

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the president of Soulstice Consultancy, LLC and the founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation <r2fdn.org>. She is the author of four books, including Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy, Dr. Booker-Drew is also the host of the Tapestry podcast.)

Related Posts

Leave a Comment