A Black woman poses standing up in a photo studio lit in red and green, almost a silhouette.

Rejecting the Role of Black Woman as Provider

kiana blaylock Oct 24, 2021

Being Black informs my womanhood and femininity. It affects how I present myself, my views on gender roles and how I think about my career. 

Black families work a bit differently from other families. With Black men being incarcerated at alarming rates due to the War on Drugs and the 13th Amendment, Black women have to lead the Black family. The patriarch is absent in many Black families. And, as of 2020, Black women are the most educated people in the United States.

Because of this myriad of butterfly effects, Black women take on the role of providers — financially more than emotionally. The system has set it up that way. 

Black families work a bit differently from other families.

As I saw that dynamic show up in my home growing up, my relationship with my career and money has evolved. 

My mother taught me I had two strikes against me: I am Black and I am a woman. White folk, as my mother and grandma put it, would look at these identities as a package deal. The plight and stereotypes attached to Black women are different from those of any other woman. To combat that, my mother taught us to be “productive members of society.” 

Get a degree, get a job, be good. 

When I was a child, I had so many dreams, so many lives I wanted to live. Seeing my mother be a nurse, take care of her family and be a great wife inspired me. She was a superhero. Hearing and seeing this as a child made me want to be a career-driven woman. My 8-year-old self thought that was the life I should aspire to. 

I wanted to be a lawyer, an artist — all types of things. 

As I’ve grown older and understand the effect that lack of nurturing during childhood has had on me, my relationship with my career and money has changed. 

Do I want to be a writer? Yes. 

Do I want to own a business? Sure.

However, I’m not too fond of the thought of working to provide for my family. For survival. 

When my sister and I were younger, my mother would go to work at night, then go to nursing school in the morning. 

When we moved from New York to Florida, my mother often worked overtime, and my father stayed home to take care of us. One of them had to work, so it was wiser this way. My mother had her nursing license and my father didn’t have a degree, so my father would make less than my mother did if my mother stayed home with us. Moving to a new state, we needed money. We were living with my aunt and we wanted to find a place of our own. I am forever in awe of the sacrifices my mother made during that time. 

Black women are socialized to believe our value is in our output. That our value is in how well we serve other people.

Even though my sisters and I are older now, my mother still works overtime. She does it more for extra money than for a need. My older sister and I are well into our 20s, and my youngest sister is 15 years old. My mother still feels the need to be a provider, even though we don’t need her in that role anymore.

Black women are socialized to believe our value is in our output. That our value is in how well we serve other people. 

So, of course, that mindset will bleed into making money. 

I don’t want to take jobs to make money. I want to do what I love. While my mom taught me how to be No. 1, she didn’t teach me emotional intelligence. She didn’t teach me how to put myself, my wants, my desires first. This happens to a lot of upwardly mobile Black families, moving from lower-middle to middle class. I don’t condemn the women in my family for choosing to make money for their family over everything else. Their sacrifices made it so I could have my dreams. 

But, I do recognize the side effects of that choice. 

Experiencing my mother’s Black womanhood has changed the way I want to navigate mine.

Much to my mother’s disdain, I would put my career on the backburner for my family.

The women in my family have had to wear so many hats: the employee, the business owner, the nurturer, the prayer warrior. It looks tiring, with little to no appreciation. It looks like you gain this addiction to fixing — things, people — and that’s where you get validation. Instead of just being, you’re obsessed with doing. 

And the men, in these more recent generations, haven’t had that much pressure put on them to be upstanding citizens. 

I don’t want to be the breadwinner. I don’t want to work for survival. 

Much to my mother’s disdain, I would put my career on the backburner for my family. I would stop working if my husband and I thought it would be best for the home. 

My goal is to be a good wife, mother and woman — before being a good worker.

About the author

After graduating with her bachelor’s in communication, Kiana Blaylock doubled down her efforts into becoming a writer. One of her proudest moments is that she created her blog, kianamorgan.com, in 2019. Her main goal with her writing is to spread the lessons she learned in her life and to uplift other women.

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels.

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