HEALING FROM SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH
Speak your truth, the phrase has been condemned by those who would say well that’s just an opinion if it’s just your truth and not the entire truth. Nah, speaking your truth is exactly what is says. It is speaking your truth as you know it based on your personal experience. I read a blog where an unknown Twitter user was quoted as saying “It allows people who are rarely heard to tell their story, learn that they are, in fact, not alone, and connects individual experiences to systemic issues.” Well said, so I used it here, I just wish I were able to give credit to the person who wrote it.
When I’m talking about speaking your truth, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the Angry Black Woman stereotype because that’s exactly what happens when I speak my truth in a professional setting. Occasionally my passion when I speak my truth, garners that label being thrown at me. If I were a white man, I would be a leader, authoritative, one who commands respect. As a white woman I would be applauded for speaking up for myself, knowing what I wanted, and having the courage to go for it. But as a black woman I am seen as aggressive, threatening, or attacking some poor person who did nothing wrong. I am dismissed as overly emotional, or a villain, one to be feared.
The Angry Black Woman stereotype can be traced back to at least the 1950s with the Amos ‘n’ Andy show. In the show they depicted black women as sassy, aggressive, and domineering. The stereotype has persisted over half a century later.
In this post on Medium by Mia, she talks about why she is an Angry Black Woman and what it’s like in this current time to be black, in essence to speak her truth. https://medium.com/@tfam08/why-im-an-angry-black-woman-45c99d67e3cd
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
― James Baldwin
Dare to speak your truth as a woman and your credibility is questioned. Dare to speak your truth and you are labeled a bitch. In the workplace women have always had to worry about hitting the glass ceiling. Being a woman of color the challenges are magnified.
The following is an article by Janice Gassam, Overcoming the Angry Black Woman Stereotype https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2019/05/31/overcoming-the-angry-black-woman-stereotype/#5a94b9a01fce in it she discusses ways in which employers and black women can better navigate the experience of black women in the workplace. She is also the author of the book Dirty Diversity: A Practical Guide to Foster an Equitable and Inclusive Workplace for All.
In the article Black Women Have Never Had the Privilege of Rage, Kimberly Seals Allers states, “Being labeled as angry and harsh ensures black women aren’t seen as real human beings with a full suite of emotions, including fear, fragility and vulnerability. When the media, pop culture and society have already framed you as angry, you live every moment trying to disprove a lie. And because we know you think we are angry, we diminish ourselves to appear happy, passive or docile.” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opinion-angry-black-women_n_5bbf7652e4b040bb4e800249
How many times have you been at work, or in a setting where you had to choke down the response you wanted to give, the response the person had “asked for” because you didn’t want to be seen as an angry black woman? You did it because you knew in the long run it would have hurt you on your job, or hurt your child in their relationship with the teacher, or (insert the situation). So, you gritted your teeth, choked down your frustration, righteous indignation, your anger. You swallowed it, and kept it moving. But it burned inside of you. Then the next situation came up and you had to make yet another decision of whether to speak your truth or to choke it down. If you spoke your truth then you had to deal with any fallout, hopefully there wasn’t any, or you got through it without any repercussions. Or if you had to choke down the response you really wanted to give, that was more frustration or anger you had to swallow. Swallowing the anger time and time again is toxic to us physically and mentally. It is killing us and we have got to stop doing that to ourselves.
Ladies, it’s time to speak your truth. You already know to choose your battles, especially if you are a woman of color because you’ve had to do it all your life based on the color of your skin. If it is a persistent issue in your workplace, gather your facts and information together, think it through and you’ll be prepared to converse without being angry. If it’s a situation with someone in your life who is troublesome or toxic, then set boundaries. If the boundaries you set are not respected, then be ready to firmly assert your boundary and what you are willing to do if it is disrespected again. In each instance, take a deep breath, exhale, inhale, then exhale, then inhale and exhale again. Then speak your truth, calmly and clearly. It is self-care and self-love to do so.