Letter #162

Content Warnings: Anxiety, Racism


Struggling with anxiety as a black woman within majority white spaces is a complex and multifaceted experience, shaped by intersecting factors of race, gender, and social dynamics. In such environments, the weight of racial discrimination, microaggressions, and feelings of otherness can exacerbate existing anxiety and contribute to a heightened sense of vulnerability. 


I have been a black woman in majority white spaces, and I have felt anxiety come over me like a swarm of darkness. While being a black woman in majority white spaces, I often have to navigate through a landscape fraught with systemic racism, implicit bias, and cultural insensitivity. From classrooms and workplaces to social gatherings and public spaces, I am constantly always looking over my shoulder to figure out who is going to judge me next or feel that I am an enemy. I never feel at ease, and everything said towards me always feels like an attack on my greatness. The constant exposure to racial microaggressions, stereotyping, and tokenism takes a toll on my mental health and well being of being a black woman, contributing to my heightened levels of anxiety and stress.


The fear of being judged, misunderstood, or discriminated against based on race and gender leads to my hypervigilance, self-doubt, and a constant sense of unease. Everyday tasks such as speaking up in meetings, socializing with peers, or simply navigating public spaces become sources of anxiety because of the pressure to conform to white norms and expectations.


Moreover, the lack of representation and visibility of black women in majority white spaces also helps contribute to my feelings of isolation and alienation. The lack of role models and mentors who share similar racial and gender identities sometimes makes it difficult for me to find support and validation for my experiences. This sense of invisibility further amplifies my feelings of anxiety and imposter syndrome.


I don’t consider my anxiety serious because it is normal in the black community to feel out of place and become stressed due to the inability to fit in, but it is something that makes me second guess myself. I would rather not feel that way, but I do realize that norms within society that make black people feel as if they cannot be themselves because of certain attacks, like microaggressions, limit my ways of overcoming my anxiety.


As I said before, the constant exposure to racial discrimination, microaggressions, and feelings of otherness heightens my anxiety. I also have anxiety even when those certain attacks aren’t present. I can never trust that no one is trying to underestimate me, making my anxiety leave me silent and frozen with fear. It is the worst feeling, but it is even worse when I realize that I will have to live with this no matter what because of systematic racism in society.


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