LBCC Black Superwoman: Black Women Speak
By Dianne Anderson
Being a superwoman has its challenges and responsibility to bear…always ready to come to the rescue, even though they never signed up for the job.
This week at at Long Beach City College, students are reflecting on some of the long term health and wellness impact of Black women as they carry the nation.
“Whether caring for the slave master’s child or subjected to abuse on these shores, we don’t think of it as, oh, I’m going to save the world today,” said Dr. Alisia Kirkwood at LBCC.
On Tuesday, February 23, the online “African American Women & the Superwoman Complex” will drill down on the historic herculean role of Black women in society.
“Everyone is talking about how Black women saved the election this year, but as one professor at our college said, Black women have been saving America for over 400 years. This isn’t a new narrative,” said Dr. Kirkwood, the Dean of Student Affairs.
Dr. Kirkwood oversees student health services, including mental health and wellness programming, and student life. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and shares how the Deltas founders participated in the suffrage march, even though white women didn’t want them there.
Black women do tend to be nurturers, but the downside is when the superwoman role takes a toll on personal health and relationships.
On Friday, February 26, “Black Women Speak: An Open Conversation” will explore tangible ways and coping strategies. The event will cover empowering ideas to address trauma, coping strategies, and the importance of self-care and self-perception.
“How do we help empower other women of all ages to see themselves in a holistic way so they’re confident when they come to the table and not able to compromise that?” she said.
Dr. Kirkwood said that chairing this month’s amazing lineup of thoughtful content and dialogue has been uplifting, and the conversation will continue in the months ahead.
“I’m so proud of this month and all of the things we have planned,” she said. “Students, faculty and staff and administrators all came together. It has been a tremendously joyful and rewarding experience.”
Deborah Miller-Calvert, director of Student Health and Student Life, said that with so much going on last spring, they knew they needed to quickly formulate the best support for Black students, especially after the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“We had students marching, and we really started out with how are we going to cope with this racism and discrimination? The goal was to support and care for our Black students immediately,” she said.
As mental health clinicians, they all pulled together a healing circle that could provide a consistent safe place for students to turn to. In listening to their needs, she said they recognized they could do much more to support them.
“It’s giving them the education and tidbits in normalizing mental health and self-care, there’s so much stigma out there in all communities for mental health, but specifically African American communities,” she said.
By the fall of last year, they pressed on with continued efforts at cultivating resiliency programs and managing cultural trauma and cumulative grief.
“It’s not just mental health clinicians, we have our department of counseling, our director of scholarships. One of the managers from Upward Bound is also contributing, and we have DSPS (Disabled Students Programs and Services) contributing,” she added.
Helpers stepped up support from all departments across campus. Some students are dealing with greater challenges, and she said mental health clinicians and other professionals also partner to guide the workshops.
She is excited about their student turnout for the online workshop, “Mental health services are a strength, not a weakness.” Year-round, she said their workshops help students deal with anxiety and grief are reaching them with resources.
“We’re always getting 30 to 40 students when we talk about supporting our African American students, or workshops that anyone can attend, or those designed for dreamer students to speak freely, we know there’s a need,” she said.
To learn more about Black History Month Events, see https://www.lbcc.edu/blackheritage