7 Anxieties Only Black Women Who "Think Different" Will Understand

The black community in America sings the praises of diversity when it comes to being included in spaces run by the racial majority. However, embracing diversity within the culture is another story.

Thinking and living outside the black culture box as a black woman means you never quite fit into the societal molds or expectations, and that makes both family members and complete strangers uncomfortable and downright angry. 

Being a black woman who goes against the grain of black American culture by having different religious beliefs, fashion choices, interests in music, and even vocabulary can lead to being ridiculed, shamed and demonized. 

In this blog, I want to shed light on the anxieties that black women who "think different" face as they live authentic lives that go against stereotypes and the constraints of cultural identity. 

1. The Anxiety of Being "Too Educated"

In middle school, I was teased by other black students for reading books and minding my own business. 

In high school, I was enrolled in advanced classes and I was often the only black student (and person) in the room. 

Statistically, black women outnumber black men in colleges and in professional fields such as law and medicine. 

Somewhere along the line, education went from a civil right that black people fought for to a pursuit associated with "wanting to be white".

Code-switching (shifting your style of speech for the comfort of your audience) is a common practice as a means for black survival in white spaces, but when you're an educated black woman who thinks different, you feel pressure to code switch with black people as well.

It's easier to speak in a way that is not as book smart in order to not raise eyebrows. And in the dating scene, it leaves black women feeling anxiety about sharing their academic or professional achievements for fear that it could bruise a black man's ego.

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2. The Anxiety of Not Being a "Believer" 

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday morning church service is the most racially segregated time in America.

While some would say this segregation is the result of racism, I say it is the result of Christianity. There are centuries of sexist, racist and violent acts done by Christian leaders and followers as evidence, and they used biblical scriptures as ammo to do it.

Many Black Christians will say the colonization, slavery, and segregation that was done in the name of Christianity occurred because of a bastardization of scripture, but I'd argue that they were following the word as it was intended to read. 

The fact is, enslaved Africans were not Christians before the slave trade. It's hard for black women who think different to reconcile worshiping a god that their ancestors were forced to kneel to, and it feels disrespectful to demonize the original spiritual beliefs of their own ancestors. 

More and more black women are awakening to this perspective but their honest concerns and questions are usually deflected with canned responses and chastisement from those of the dominant religion. 

For all of these reasons and more, I personally have found spiritual connection on a non-religious path that includes an eclectic mix of practices and technologies from all over the world, from manifestation to folk magic. 

3. The Anxiety of Being "Boujie"

Desiring to live in a nice neighborhood, drive a luxury car, dress in high end clothing, eat organic food, stay in five-star hotels, or to date a man who doesn't cheat is seen as having high standards, but in the black community having high standards is a curse word not a compliment. 

Black women who think different are told their standards are too high, and that they are boujie, uppity, too "soft", not black enough, and are "acting white".  

There is a level of camaraderie within the average and lower socio-economic statuses because they can relate to one another. If you desire more or want more than the average person, you are no longer relatable and/or they take your aspirations and luxuries as a personal attack. 

It's assumed that boujie black women think they are better than other people. But to want better for yourself does not mean that you think you are better than another human being, it just mean you want better experiences, better environments and better quality items.  

It isn't that she "doesn't want to live around black people", it's that she wants to live in a neighborhood with residents that value safety, maintaining property values and low noise levels. The fact that the "bad" neighborhoods are mostly inhabited by people of color and the "good" neighborhoods are usually predominantly white is not her fault. 

You should never lower your standards and live in discomfort just to avoid being called "boujie".

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4. The Anxiety of Dating "The Devil"

When black women date interracially it is shocking to the black community, because black women in general are very loyal to black men when it comes to dating and marriage.

Black men, however, date outside of their race all the time, to the point that we are pleasantly surprised when we see a black man of means dating or married to a black woman.

Black women who think different do not date based on a loyalty to any group or race of men. She is loyal to herself first and foremost. She dates men who shares her values, meets her needs, and has love to give, no matter the race.  

Because there is a history of white people versus black people in this country, dating a white man a.k.a. the "white devil" is seen as sleeping with the enemy, an offense that garners being called a "bed wench" and having your black card revoked. 

Since available black women outnumbers available black men due to incarceration and other factors, and because black women largely do not date outside of their race, black men expect the loyalty of black women as a whole and often take black women's loyalty for granted. 

Loyalty should never be given. It should be earned.

I am currently in a committed relationship with a man who loves me with his soul, shares my values and provides for me in every way. I refuse to feel any shame over the fact that he's not packaged in dark skin.

5. The Anxiety of Eating "Kale and Quinoa" 

Generations of black people have been living in survival mode, and that creates a live-fast, pleasure-seeking lifestyle that often includes a delicious but unhealthy diet of foods heave on fat, sugar and salt.

On the other hand, foods that are low in fat, low in sugar, low on salt, and usually low on flavor, are healthier and more expensive foods associated with the diet of thin, privileged white people. 

So when a black woman eats a salad and is mindful of portion sizes during a meal with black family members, it's typical for her be teased and questioned for being conscious of her diet and her weight, and she'll likely be encouraged to loosen up and fatten up. 

Cooking food full of flavor and seasoning is a point of pride in the black community, but, let's face it, its best to eat those deep-fried and smothered traditional meals only on special occasions, not every day. 

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6. The Anxiety of Being Grown and Child-free

With the recent push to overturn Roe v. Wade in the U.S., it's become even more apparent that women are seen as walking wombs, whose main purpose is to birth and raise men's offspring, no matter if her life or mental health is at stake. 

Due to the babymama/babydaddy culture in the black community, people think there's something "wrong" with you if you are a black woman who hasn't birthed at least one child by the time you're in your 20s. 

For a woman like me who is in her 30s, who does not have any children, and who is in no way sad about it, the third-degree questioning I have received from strangers proves how much audacity and entitlement people (especially men) have when it comes to women's bodies. 

Black women who think differently about motherhood and are happy despite being child-free receive outrage and distrust from people who don't understand their mindset and from parents who are low-key jealous of their freedom. 

But society should be thankful for women who make conscious decisions about childbearing, because unfortunately there are many women who only realize after they become mothers that motherhood is not for them, and their children become casualties of the war on women. 

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7. The Anxiety of Not "Supporting The Community"

By not buying from a business solely because they are black-owned, not voting for a specific political party, not marching in protests, not being a social media justice warrior, not coming to the defense of a black man in the media, or not living in a black neighborhood you will find yourself accused of not supporting the black community.

But when you're a black woman who thinks different, you are an outsider. From the outside of the community looking in, you can see how the black community isn't so communal, and how, although we as black people may have a shared struggle, we do not have a shared goal.

We don't have a MLK Jr. of our time, and we don't all have a clear set of principles to live by and hold others accountable to, and that leads to a group of people going in all different directions, with scattered energy instead of being a unified force.

The burden is so often placed on black women to fill in the gaps that a lack of black male leadership has created. But it's not wise, nor is it healthy, for black women to give their full emotional and financial support to a person or a community that in a number of ways does not want to do what is necessary for change.  

Give what you can, when you can, and from a genuine place, not from a place of guilt or pressure.

To all the black women who've never quite fit in, remember that your experiences are valid, your life is yours to live on your terms, and all you have is yourself at the end of the day.

Take into consideration what people who truly love and care about you have to say, but always stay true to what feels right to you.  

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