Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength

Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength

by Chanequa Walker-Barnes


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Black women are strong. At least that's what everyone says and how they are constantly depicted. But what, exactly, does this strength entail? And what price do Black women pay for it? In this book, the author, a psychologist and pastoral theologian, examines the burdensome yoke that the ideology of the Strong Black Woman places upon African American women. She demonstrates how the three core features of the ideology—emotional strength, caregiving, and independence—constrain the lives of African American women and predispose them to physical and emotional health problems, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and anxiety. She traces the historical, social, and theological influences that resulted in the evolution and maintenance of the Strong Black Woman, including the Christian church, R & B and hip-hop artists, and popular television and film. Drawing upon womanist pastoral theology and twelve-step philosophy, she calls upon pastoral caregivers to aid in the healing of African American women's identities and crafts a twelve-step program for Strong Black Women in recovery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620320662
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 06/19/2014
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 370,310
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a theologian and psychologist whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for healing, justice, and reconciliation in the Christian church and beyond. She is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling in the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Personal Is Pastoral 1

1 This Thing Called Strength: A Portrait of the StrongBlack Woman 14

2 Too Heavy a Yoke: The Pain of the StrongBlackWoman 41

3 "To Carry Your Burden in the Heat of the Day": Racism, Sexism, and the Making of the StrongBlackWoman 80

4 Pride and Prejudice: Societal Reactions to the StrongBlackWoman 109

5 Must Black Women Bear the Yoke Alone? The Church and the StrongBlackWoman 130

6 "For My Yoke Is Easy": liberating Black Women from the Burden of Strength 160

Appendix: The StrongBlackWoman's Twelve-Step Recovery Program 197

Bibliography 199

Scripture Index 209

Subject Index 210

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Too Heavy a Yoke is a much-needed, thoughtful, and nuanced examination of the 'Strong Black Woman' stereotype—a significant new contribution to multiple disciplines of pastoral care and counseling, psychology, sociology, African American and womanist-feminist studies, and constructive theology. Walker Barnes draws on both womanist and Trinitarian theologies to examine how the church can play a part in healing and liberating black women from 'the burden of strength.' Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this book belongs on the shelf of every minister and pastoral counselor, and indeed every woman who knows in her soul the burdens of being a 'StrongBlackWoman.'"

—Pamela Cooper-White, Ben G. and Nancye Clapp Gautier Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Well done! This book is a much-needed gift to the field of pastoral theology. It is a well nuanced and explicated research volume and a practical guide for caregivers, pastors, those who love women struggling with the ideology of the 'StrongBlackWoman,' as well as those in recovery."

—Marsha Foster Boyd, President Emerita, Ecumenical Theological Seminary

"A prayerful, prophetic, poetic, pastoral, powerful womanist analysis of the StrongBlackWoman, from an interdisciplinary, experiential perspective names the context, content, complexities, and pathology of many Black women's embodied archetypal, systemic oppression and posits hopeful options for a paradigmatic shift of recovery. Woven with artistry and passion, Too Heavy a Yoke is a must-read for clergy, therapists, caregivers, and any persons or groups committed to the liberation of black women, ultimately the liberation of all society."

—Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Professor of Religion, Shaw University Divinity School

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