Do You Know About Colored Girls and Suicide?

It is 3 a.m. and I cannot sleep. Although I am not contemplating suicide, the idea is on mind.

No need for anyone to pick up his or her phone right now to call or text me. No need for you to pull your travel size bible out your purse to pass on a prayer. And don’t even think about filling my email with a list of scriptures, because they aren’t needed.

So as you are starting to wonder, “Why on earth are you thinking about suicide, if you are not contemplating suicide?” Consider the headline below:

Karyn Washington: For Brown Girls Creator Reportedly Commits Suicide

Karyn Washington

The report was fact.

I have not been 23, for an entire month yet, and this giant for empowerment completed suicide at the age of 22. My heart hurts. It bleeds for Karyn. Like me she heeded the call to be a writer with purpose. She used her writing to celebrate the beauty of dark skin while promoting self-love to combat colorism. Her goal was to get girls like you and me to embrace the skin we are in, and she succeeded.

As a fellow colored girl, I know the burden of carrying the complexities she tried to free women from through her movement, but ultimately, Karyn struggled with inspiring the most important person in the world, herself. I am not writing this to make you feel bad or even really ponder suicide, because the word weighs heavy.

What I want you to understand is that she is not the only one.

Although we think brown girls are Flawless as Beyonce so eloquently puts it, we are not. Alicia Keys says we are Super Woman, but I am telling you today, that we are not. And because we are so determined to accomplish everything (something that has been engrained in us to do at an early age), we take on too much. As little girls we are taught to always take care of our families, to receive the highest education possible, work the best job that you can and be promoted, be the best friend that you can be to everyone around, while being beautiful and skinny; and the list goes on…

It is not bad to aspire for better, in fact I welcome the challenge, but “the superwoman” mentality ingrained in minority women is wearing on us. This is not the only headline of recent sharing how a woman of color has decided to take her life.

So I began to research. How many of us really have done this?

I found that there is not much data out there about women of color concerning mental illness. There exist a variety of ethnic groups, but the only racial groups I could find data on were included African American, Hispanic/Latina and Asian American women . The articles found on these women, shared that studies were being conducted, some completed, and were currently being published or yet to be published.

The information I found I will share with you:

  • A growing epidemic of suicide is happening with these women ages 9 – 29.
  • In all of the minority racial groups recently studied, women were more likely to attempt suicide than males.
  • Of the three minority groups above, suicide is either the first or the third leading cause of death amongst women.
  • Although Caucasian youth are twice as likely as Minority American youth to complete suicide, since 2003 the rate of suicide increased dramatically among Minority American youth than among Caucasian youth.

I know that there are many factors that play into suicide and for women of darker shades, colorism and the world epidemic to be lighter and thinner can have a tremendous effect. I know this post is not as empowering as most, if anything it is quite unsettling, but I want it to be.

I want you to wrestle with the fact that, brown girls commit suicide too.

But all hope is not lost, we can continue to help one another by removing the stigma and myths that suicide contradicts gender and cultural role expectations including the idea that minority women are always strong and resilient and never crack under pressure; becoming aware of the cultural differences in the expression of suicidal behavior; developing liaisons and relationships with faith communities; and recognizing warning signs and helping family or friends get professional assistance.

Okay yall, I am going to sleep now. Don’t give up, and don’t give in as I challenge you as I challenge myself daily to be brave, bold, and beautiful since God so graciously chose you to be kissed by the sun.


Do You Know about Woman of Color and Eating Disorders

All people, women of color especially like to believe they are clothed in humility. Yet hegemony, reigns high in every society. This sense of superiority can lead people to believe they are exempt from things. The Did You Know series will educate woman of color on issues they did not know affected us.

photograph by Madamenoire

photograph by Madamenoire

Eating disorders were once only a problem for middle and upper class white woman.  Now all sexes, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes are acknowledged for experiencing eating disorders.

Recent research suggest that eating disorders are represented differently amongst various ethnic and racial backgrounds,  a result of this have caused physicians to miss opportunities to detect and treat disorders in women of color.

Women of color, particularly African American and Latina women were considered immune to eating disorders because in the past those communities resisted such practices. But current trends are showing minorities engaging in eating disorders because of the cultural pressures to be thin.

Studies are being done on these black ethnic groups; because there is no past evidence of eating disorders amongst these groups it is difficult to make claims about the trends.  A 2007 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that Latinos who have spent more than 70% of their lives in the United States, had higher rates of eating disorders. This study also found that blacks with high levels of stress suffer greater risk of body image.

I am interested in hearing about more evidence of trend changes.  Most minorities have a health stigma. Reports of mental diseases and disorders are not typically reported and people do not seek help. I know there is still a huge population of woman of color and minorities who are not affected by eating disorders, but I do believe that more people are affected by it.  Be aware of the people around you and don’t think that just because they are black, nothing is wrong with them.

Trafficking of Women

Trafficking of Women

In relation to the Do You know about women of color and sex trafficking is a map that can give you a global perspective of how many woman face this issue. Think of all the woman of color around the world, this is a lot of oppressed people.

Do You Know about Women of Color and Sex trafficking

All people, women of color especially like to believe they are clothed in humility. Yet hegemony, reigns high in every society. This sense of superiority can lead people to believe they are exempt from things. The Did You Know series will educate woman of color on issues they did not know affected us.

A mural in Australia illustrating the brutal experiences of women sold into the sex trade.  Source: AFP

A mural in Australia illustrating the brutal experiences of women sold into the sex trade. Source: AFP

Women are the large majority of people who are victims of sex trafficking. The United States have laws in place against sex trafficking, however most of these laws ignore various types of trafficking. This topic is discussed and is an issue in most countries.

What is often never considered is the relationship race and trafficking victims. Arguments have been made that race contributes to the likelihood of people becoming victims of trafficking. Furthermore, race also determines the treatment the victim’s experience.

In the United States, the largest majority of people trafficked through labor and sexual exploitation are people of color.  According to the department of justice 50% are children and the majority of these children are girls.  77% of the victims that reported alleged human trafficking were minorities and people of color.

Statistics and advocacy against trafficking hardly notice the connection between race, poverty, gender, and trafficking.  Figures from the United States and even nationally can show the correlations if statistics are more clear and unskewed.

The United States media is great at showing the nation the statistics and facts about sex trafficking around the world, but the information above is rarely shared.  Not that you have some knowledge, become aware, and become a part of the changes.


Do You Know about Woman of Color and female genital mutilation?

All people, women of color especially like to believe they are clothed in humility. Yet hegemony, reigns high in every society. This sense of superiority can lead people to believe they are exempt from things. The Did You Know series will educate woman of color on issues they did not know affected us.

It is important to be aware of the effect female genital mutilation has had on woman of color. With fervor the media has convinced the general population that mutilation only happens in Africa, portraying the culture that engages in genital mutilation as barbaric and backwards.

If you claim to be kissed by the sun, then I am almost that part of you is of African descent, so there is no need to feel too far removed from the subject.

There are a few things that the media hasn’t told you about female genital mutilation.

1.People that engage in female genital mutilation are not typically frowned upon in their societies for doing it.

The idea of cutting or altering anyone’s genital areas sounds horrible to most westerners, but people who engage in genital cutting typically believe that a cut body is more aesthetically pleasing.  The term mutilation is used by westerners but would be considered offensive in societies where cutting takes place.

2. Women who are cut are still sexually responsive.

In most cases a woman’s labia’s are fused or trimmed. With that being said, women who undergo genital surgeries still have enjoyable sexual relations including arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction. This is true for women who have undergone clitoral reduction, infibulation, and lesser forms of cutting.

3.Most of these procedures are done by other women.

Some societies that cut do as a result of permissive sexual rules for males and females. Most of the time the cutting practiced is controlled and organized by women who went through the same practice.

4. Female genital mutilation is not an African practice. Listed below is map of countries that engage in the practice.

  • The maroon countries are Muslim populated groups that engage in particular circumcision practices.
  • The  light gray countries have cases reported of female genital mutilation
  • The darker gray countries are areas where most women are infibulated
  • The pink countries have widespread groups that have particular circumcision practices

Even though it is not listed, the United States ‘cosmetic genital surgeries are a part of the fastest growing procedures. These surgeries include clitoral reduction, circumcision of the clitoral foreskin, labia trimming, vaginal tightening, collagen injected into the g-spot, color correction of the vulva and anal bleaching.

Most westerners would claim these procedures are not mutilation, however these are procedures are not that different.

Many women of color are affected by female genital mutilation. I did not present these facts to say the people organizing these procedures are justified, but I did not present these facts to say are wrong either.

This information was presented so that women of color could be made aware of what other women of color in the world face.  If it bothers you, be a part of the change. If it doesn’t, then advocate for societal freedoms without interjection. Whatever you do just be aware.