The trope of the “strong Black woman” may seem like a positive stereotype, but Black women have reported that the stoicism prescribed to them can take its toll on their mental health. A new study further examines the stereotype’s effect on Black women’s overall health. It found some behaviors protect their wellbeing while others are harmful.
Amani M. Allen is the lead author of the study and associate professor of community health sciences and epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. Allen and her collaborators launched a study in 2012 as part of the African American Women’s Heart and Health Study. They surveyed 208 Black women living in the San Francisco Bay Area on the links between social and environmental stressors.
In a focus group, Allen found many African American women adhere to the “strong Black woman” schema to cope with the stress of discrimination. From there, she told Berkeley Research, she decided to delve deeper into the effects of this stereotype.