*This is the third iteration of the “Thanks Sis” sub-series. A series dedicated to discussing the Black Woman corporate experience from a millennial perspective*
It has already been stated in my previous posts that minority women are a crucial facet of the American workforce and yet, we are constantly overlooked in aspects of salary, mentoring programs, promotions, and networking opportunities in the US job market. Another huge factor that often gets ignored is how we are misrepresented in the qualities of both physical and mental healthcare and also, how that plays into our perceived value at work.
This trend is especially visible in the Black community and it’s alarming to run the numbers.
In terms of national health data: the infant mortality rate for Blacks is (13%) more than twice the amount of the rate for white, non-Hispanics (6%) according to the CDC. Found in the same national report it’s stated- per 100,000 women- that deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and breast cancer are 30-70% more likely to occur to Black women than their white counterparts. Socioeconomic factors are extremely relevant to the analysis of this data and these factors reflect the evidence of a healthcare system engineered to either ignore or misdiagnose minority women.
In lieu of the stats above, it’s more than evident that American racism, elitism, and capitalism have tainted its views on healthcare and is based more on corporate governance than the actual implementation of a system created to service the public. This has women like myself feeling pledged to an uphill battle of fighting for equitable spaces in all industries– especially the ones meant to safeguard our health and that of our families.
There is, unfortunately, a growing trend of women sacrificing themselves not just at home but also in their places of work, more specifically- during times when they should be focused on their individual wellness both mentally and physically (i.e., pre and post-partum as well as times of trauma and family deaths).
Minority women in particular are prone to having martyr mom syndrome– loosely defined as a working mother’s tendency to overlook their own needs to stretch themselves to accommodate the needs of their families. Often times being pulled in two directions, they can also feel compelled to become a work martyr as well- compounding their stress both physically and emotionally which eventually leads to a breakdown that can occasionally come in the form of anxiety/depression and even death.
Most recently, there have even been stories worldwide of Black women working themselves to death in the healthcare industry- the very industry supposedly dedicated to maintaining and providing wellness to the community. A young, Black nurse was recently found to have committed suicide due to long and incessant twelve-hour shifts at work and it’s heartbreaking to hear her family describe her loss of vitality over the course of her time while working in that hospital.
History has conditioned minority women- particularly Black women- to place everyone above themselves on an invisible hierarchy dictated by deliberately-inflicted oppression and patriarchy. Time and time again it is impressed upon us that we are an afterthought, even in our own households and especially at work. The silencing of valid minority perspectives in corporate environments and the assumption of racial tropes as “scientific” basis for the treatment and non-treatment of Black mental and medical disorders in hospitals must end because it’s killing us- literally.
Although this is a problem we didn’t create, there are pressing needs for it to be corrected; and ultimately, the process must start with our afflicted community. To initiate this Black women need to assert themselves when it comes to centering themselves at home and in our careers. Walking away from toxicity in general is the cure.
Your job is NOT WORTH your life or happiness! When it seems like you’re burning candles at both ends, take that as a signal that it’s time to center yourself and your needs- not time to “power through it”.
Your value is measured only in the content of your character, never in your title at work.