Black Women’s Emotional Expression as Entertainment

From Love and Hip-hop to Iyanla Fix My Life, to all of Tyler Perry’s films the black woman’s pain is displayed as entertainment. Black women are bleeding emotionally all over the place.  Black women’s emotional expression becomes a show, watered down, funny and ultimately dismissed.  When we are emotional it is extra, angry, explosive, ghetto, classless, two snap, a tongue click and neck roll.  It makes for great entertainment. But, where does that leave the woman who those explosive and entertaining emotions belong too?  Does she find resolve and acceptance in her emotional expression? Is she able to find healing from negative emotions and joy in her positive emotions?  How does one then deal with her emotional expression when you do not want to be someone’s entertainment? Well, to be strong of course, to bury those emotions deep, ignore them, deny them and hide them, be stoic. You are sparing yourself from the embarrassment of emotional expression because you don’t want your struggles to be someone else’s entertainment or pity project.

Emotions and Decision Making

Your emotions are connected to your inner beliefs about self.  Emotions are often the driving force behind our actions. Unfortunately, this can lead to impulsive and poor decision making because it is very difficult to make logical decisions when you are emotional.  Allowing your emotions to control you can lead to major difficulties in life. Out of those poor decisions you can end up with life experiences that seem crazy and drama filled. Consequences of your actions that you did not intend, or could have been avoided if you weren’t controlled by your emotions. This creates the cycle and brings us back to black women’s emotional expression becoming entertainment.  The life full of chaos, drama, and struggle the message we are consuming daily in the media about black women’s pain.

The Strong Black Women

Black women are taught to be strong from a young age.  You are taught to grin and bear it. Pile it on with little complaint. To be strong, emotions are often suppressed, ignored, or denied. Often you are doing the most, taking on the problems of everyone around you and you do not have time to deal with your emotions. Strong black women begin to pride themselves on being strong, looking down on those emotional ghetto women that can not control themselves ready to pop off on an instance.  But emotions are energy, energy made to be expressed so you can only suppress them so long before the comes exploding out.  Often when this occurs you are unable to control the explosion resulting in an unintended consequence. Even that strong black woman you try to be can not control an emotional outburst of years of built up emotional energy.  That explosion is messy, it is dramatic, it is animated, and it’s even extra for you (thinking to yourself like this isn’t me, where is this coming from). It becomes entertainment and is judged leading to embarrassment and shame, thus reinforcing the belief that emotional expression needs to be suppressed.  The cycle continues until it the lack of emotional expression leads to stress, ultimately manifesting in your physical health. Mental health among black women is important. We are carrying around heavy loads in isolation. We are walking around with deep trauma from disappointments and failed and broken relationships. That isolation is causing black women to walk around suffering in silence from anxiety and depressive disorders. We often call it tired and think it will get better with some rest, but rest and relief never come. It becomes more and more overwhelming to the point where we are no longer able to enjoy life. Fun is suffocated out by responsibilities and hardship. We become bitter, irritable, angry, and numb.

Healthy Emotional Expression

Emotional expression is not bad. It is less explosive when you actively deal with them and not suppress them.  Emotional expression, however, is a learned skill. You get better through practice.  You must learn how to deal with your emotions as they come the moment of impact. It is like flowing with the wave of emotional energy instead of trying to resist it. You must learn to prioritize your emotional health. Emotional responses are a way to learn more about the beliefs you hold about yourself and can lead to growth and self-actualization. The bigger the emotional response the deeper the belief system it is triggering.  When you explore those beliefs, you can then begin to repair the negative one. As you repair those belief systems you negative emotional responses will decrease in intensity and frequency.

Do you struggle with emotional expression?  Comment below and let us know in what ways you struggle with emotional expression. If you would like to learn strategies for coping with your emotions Join the Arise Beautiful Facebook Group.

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