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A Paradigm Shift: A Letter From A Black Woman Divesting In 2020

In 2018, I ended an extremely volatile relationship with a diagnosed sociopath. It took months of therapy and the support of family and friends to undo the harm he caused. I wasted 7 months supporting a grown man who was reckless and abusive. He frequently engaged in manipulative tactics to get me to maintain false hope about the future of the relationship.  

This sort of psychological manipulation is called trauma bonding. It's a tactic used to get a victim to maintain contact with the abuser, even after the abuse has reached it's peak within the cycle. There are periods of what may seem like "loving support" from the abuser. However, it's all an act. The abuser wants the victim to become attached. The trauma bonding is designed to keep the victim feeling hopeful about a very toxic and stagnant situation. For the most part, the relationship between Black men and women mirrors this sort of dynamic.

In 2017, the Institute for Women's Policy Research released a 192 page report entitled, "The Status of Black Women in the United States". The report was based upon data collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report looked at a myriad of topics, including violence and safety. It revealed somber information about the health and safety of Black women. The amount of reported physical violence Black women experience in intimate partner relationships exceeds that of our white counterparts. More than four in ten Black women experience such violence. 

The report also revealed Black women experience higher rates of psychological abuse, which also included humiliation and coercive control. More than 20 percent of Black women experience rape within their lifetime. This percentage is "a higher share than among women overall." Black women are also two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than our white counterparts, and more than nine in ten Black women victims knew their murderers. 

1. In that same year, the Economic Policy Institute also released an article entitled, "African American Women Stand out as Working Moms Play a Larger Economic Role in Families". The article revealed that more than two thirds of African American women are working single mothers, which makes us the primary breadwinners for our families. 

2.The Center for American Progress also released an updated report in 2019. Mississippi has the "fourth-highest breadwinning mothers across all states... [and] the second -highest share of Black workers in the United States, after only Washington, DC.; and Black women's labor force participation in the state outpaces white women's, although their wages are much lower." 

3. As Black women, we are often the primary provider for our families, and despite the fact our wages are lower than what our white counterparts receive, we are tasked with maintaining a household and providing for our children, even when a man decides he doesn't want to stick around and care for his offspring. 

So, Black women are you tired yet?

I know I am, and there are many more Black women who share my sentiment. As women who are often the sole breadwinners of our household, we can no longer afford to mammy grown men. We can no longer afford to carry them on our backs. Not only is it emotionally draining, it is unhealthy overall; and it sets a negative example for our children. We can no longer allow our children to see us beaten, broken, and barely making ends meet. Our boys should be exposed to healthy masculinity, and we cannot do that if we are entertaining toxic relationships, and men who've lost sight of who they are.

Our community has a tendency to think in absolutes. So, when people hear the word, "divest," they automatically assume it means hating Black men. It does not. For centuries, Black women have held our heads down in silence while enduring inexcusable acts of violence, all for the sake of protecting the ego and image of Black men. Our foremothers did not not fight for us to sit back and deal with the same misogynoir they dealt with. 

Black women have to begin to put our well being first. Our children are relying on us to do so. We have made significant gains in education and within our careers. We absolutely have to capitalize on those gains. If that means addressing the ills within our community while stepping on toes and hurting some feelings, then so be it.

Black women: divest. 


"Violence Against Black Women -- Many Types, Far-Reaching Effects." Institute for Women's Policy Research, 7 Aug. 2018, iwpr.org/violence-black-women-many-types-far-reaching-effects/.  
 "African American Women Stand out as Working Moms Play a Larger Economic Role in Familes." Economic Policy Institute, 11 May 2017, www.epi.org/blog/african-american-women-stand-out-as-working-moms-play-a-larger-economic-role-in-families/.
Glynn, Sarah Jane. "Breadwinning Mothers Continue To Be the U.S. Norm." Center for American Progress, 10 May 2019, www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2019/05/10/469739/breadwinning-mothers-continue-u-s-norm/.

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