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Taking Care or Undermining?

The Complexity Behind "Take Care of Yourself" Directed at Black Women Entrepreneurs

The phrase "Make sure you are taking care of yourself" is one we hear often, a well-meaning piece of advice aimed at reminding individuals about the importance of self-care. Yet, when it comes to Black women entrepreneurs, this statement takes on a deeper, more complex connotation. Why does this phrase seem more prevalent when Black women step into leadership roles or pursue entrepreneurship? Does this narrative change if the recipient of the advice is of a different racial or ethnic background? Let's delve into this intricate conversation.

Historical Context

To begin, it's crucial to understand the historical roles Black women have occupied. Traditionally, Black women have been portrayed as relentless workers—whether in the fields, in homes as caretakers, or in communities as pillars of strength. This portrayal is not without merit; the resilience and strength of Black women are undeniable. However, this has also led to the stereotype of the "Strong Black Woman," an image of someone who doesn’t need help, doesn't feel pain, and can endure any challenge.

Why "Take Care of Yourself" Might Sound Off

When someone advises a Black woman entrepreneur to "take care of herself," it could inadvertently echo stereotypes and imply that she might be on the brink of neglecting herself. Even if said with the best intentions, this statement can be interpreted as suggesting Black women don’t know how to balance their roles. It may also perpetuate the idea that entrepreneurship is an arena where Black women are out of their depth, even when they have proven time and again their capability in these spaces.

The Contrast of Corporate Culture

It's interesting to note that while working for an employer, many Black women rarely hear the advice to "take care of themselves." This might be because the corporate world has its set expectations, and workers are expected to meet them, irrespective of personal health or wellbeing. But when a Black woman breaks out of this mold to create her own path, suddenly the concern for her wellbeing becomes more vocal.

Is Race a Factor?

Would a white woman in a similar entrepreneurial role hear the same advice as frequently? The comparison isn’t always straightforward. However, it's worth considering whether the intersectionality of race and gender plays a role in how society perceives an individual's ability to manage stress, workload, and personal life.

The Way Forward

While it's essential to promote and support self-care for everyone, especially entrepreneurs who often deal with high levels of stress, it's equally vital to ensure our encouragement isn't tinged with assumptions or biases.

For Black women entrepreneurs, the message should be clear: We recognize and respect your prowess, your journey, and your capability. Let's ensure that our words of encouragement, no matter how well-intended, don't accidentally undermine the very individuals we aim to uplift.


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