We are starting to see and hear the word ‘resilience’ everywhere. And quite frankly, I am tired of its misuse. It is being used in terms to describe how we are feeling, coping, and living amidst the pandemic and protest.
It is being used to describe how we are feeling about the environment of politics and the narratives being thrown about.
It is being overused to describe any setback we encounter, from having to home school our children, to working from home. How resilient we are to be at home, with our children! For many, especially women in third world countries or even here in our own country, women who who are low to middle income wage earners – having our children at home because they can’t afford childcare, isn’t a luxury – it’s a reality and it isn’t called being resilient – its called being a parent.
So, what does ‘resilience’ really mean? Have we so watered down the word that it no longer has any value?
And there is individual resilience, cultural resilience, corporate and workforce resilience. Resilience in each of those areas requires certain characteristics and traits that ascribe to a certain core strength and include courage.
Resilience is about courage. We need to ask ourselves, “what’s so courageous about staying at home?”
The key to understanding resilience is to understand that resilience is more than about being tired. It is about being able to recover from difficult experiences and setbacks and adapt and move forward. It is a quality in individuals or communities that allow them to be knocked down and rebound stronger than before.
When I think of how my ancestors survived the Middle Passage, how they survived seeing loved one’s sold off into slavery, how they survived seeing loved ones hosed down and threatened by dogs in the south under Bull Conner, seeing loved one’s chased, lynched or shot, and endure the riots of protest over the last forty years…I see resilience.
Resilience is the courage to move forward amid the understanding that you are hated because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or language.
While there is no single set of character traits for resilience, for cultures and communities that have faced racism, discrimination and hatred the most common set of traits that form resilience are the characteristics and traits that we tend to ascribe to God.
This set of characteristics tend to include:
Faith – When we hold onto or believe in something bigger than ourselves, we tend to have the courage to move forward regardless of our situations or the situations which have been thrust upon us.
Social Networks – Black women tend to have a variety of social supports from “mama nem” to the black church, black sororities and fraternities, sister friends and large nuclear families. Add this to the many non-profits, and other human service led organizations which work to improve the lives of people of color.
F.E.A.R – Face Everything and Remain. Black women tend to stand up to fear because quite honestly, we have had to. We have had to face our fears not just for ourselves, but our families and communities.
Optimistic – As a black woman I know that from the time we are small we are taught to look on the bright side of everything. From scraping money together in order to ensure there is food on the table, to holding “rent” parties to keep a roof over our heads. We have and remain optimistic about all of our tomorrows.
Living on Purpose – When you possess faith you live for and with purpose. If you live on purpose it helps build resilience around all the other characteristics. Living on Purpose means you live for something or someone (usually your family and children). Living on Purpose means understanding that you are not just existing, but that what you do…you do for a reason.
Today as our communities bounce back from the pandemic and protest, I believe we will see even more resilient communities and people. Communities and people of color who will no longer be accepting of the status quo or business as usual. Inclusive environments will no longer be just words…they will need to have tangible value not just in the workplace, but also in every aspect of our daily lives.
True resiliency has taught us to adapt and cope with our adversities and stress and we have passed along that resiliency to our children and grandchildren.
As black women we have learned the character of God, and over time learned to lead others to the promise land.
Today as you talk about how resilient you are and have become…Tell Them God is a Black Woman.
“And That’s A Brilliant Glimpse of Insight!”