Resilient: Another Bad R-Word

I can almost hear the eye rolls, yes it makes a sound. What’s another word we can’t be using now? Another thing that got taken by cancel culture? I’m going to shout it for the people in the back. The concept/idea/thought/belief ( I think you get the picture ), that as Black people, we are so strong, have been through so much, we have been so resilient. Yes, resiliency is a wonderful things, because it allows us to move forward, past traumas and bad experiences. But what I am not for is the expectation and the praise of that resilience, omitting the event which caused it and to be honest, it’s getting extremely exhausting, read along to see what I mean.

resilience : noun
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard countless people speak up about the pressures they feel/felt to keep it together when it comes to micro/macro aggressions, uncomfortable situations and downright racism. The fortitude used to always remain calm, repressed and be the “good Black person” in pretty much every space we take up, no matter whether we are the victim or otherwise. But what I haven’t come across is the conversation of how we are expected to merely bounce back from any of these traumas. Has anyone considered what it is like to be the token Black person in a work place? What it’s like to feel othered in many professional settings? The genuine surprise on the faces of attendants when you walk into a meeting room. To have earned a position and to be flatly told, you are merely there to tick a box on a government enforced diversity program? No? Well I have and I could say yes to all of those and more. At which point do we sit and consider what it’s like to FEEL those things? To hear them, to let it marinate with you and for it to eventually affect your self-worth or your sense of belonging? The answer is never, because we are expected to simple push through. We’re expected to swallow the feelings. We are resilient. Aren’t we the people who’s ancestors were crammed onto slave ships and physically broken into submission to toil the lands we reside on? Aren’t we born of super human mothers who birthed countless children, all while working the fields and managing a household? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we don’t need this type of hype in order to push us forward or give us gratitude because the messaging is very much needed to counteract the numerous years of negative images/visual that existed about Black people. What I am merely saying is that the idea of the strong Black person, particularly that of the Strong Black woman is dangerous. I have posted about it previously, but not only is the Black woman at the bottom of the social totem pole, we carry the weight of the gender inequalities and that of the racial ones as well and on top of that we’re supposed to make it look good.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

Maya Angelou

Don’t get me wrong, resilience is a very good thing, it’s our ability to be able to move on/past our traumas is a remarkable thing, we all love the stories of human triumph. They’re not only inspiring, but they also make you feel less alone, which is very important. But what I don’t want glamourized is the idea that Black people are resilient in nature and that we can get through EVERY trauma, so keep pilling it on us, because we can get through. Though we may be able to, it doesn’t mean we want it to happen to us. We aren’t lab rats in a science experiment, we are a people who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the pressures we are involuntarily given, along with all of life’s pressures. Carry your own weight and sort out your own traumas, problematic, racist behaviours. Don’t expect me, to carry that weight, don’t ask me to tip toe around your fragile ego because you don’t know. It’s too late for that. We are too grown. The internet exists. Books are readily available. Podcasts. Blogs. Articles. It’s 2021, you posted the black square on your socials as a form of performative “activism”, now I’m here to tell you, we want to see receipts.

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