Black Women Educators are Burnt Out

By Aaliyah Moore

Working in higher education has always been exhausting, but now in the face of COVID? It’s a literal nightmare. I wake up in the morning, and the only thing that’s on my mind is how much I can’t wait to get back in bed when the day is over. I’ve been doing my best to push through these days, but two words describe how I feel: burnt out. 

Burn-out is described as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. While living, working, and parenting in the middle of a pandemic has been a strain on everyone, I think it has affected Black women on another level. 

Black women are more likely to experience burnout in the workplace because they typically have less authority. 

A little more insight into my world… 

My supervisor oversees our entire division, which means his hands are tied up every day in meetings and calls, trying to make decisions about school reopening. With that said, I’ve received little to no direction about what I’m supposed to be doing, no weekly 1:1s, and that has left me completely clueless. To stay “out of his way” and not be a “burden,” I’ve had to take the initiative to do what I think I’m supposed to be doing, in hopes that I’m working on the right tasks. What’s sad is that I still feel a “need to perform” in the middle of such a taxing environment. Why? Because as a black woman, there’s always this extra pressure to not be perceived as unproductive.

Truthfully, I’ve been leaving work feeling tired and defeated, but have still shown up every day as if I’ve got it all under control.

As much as I wish it would end today, I have a feeling that as long as we’re living with COVID, burnout is going to be a recurring issue for my sistas. And unfortunately, I haven’t developed the healthiest mechanisms for coping with my burnout, either.

But to every black woman who reads this, I see you, and I feel you. We’ll get through this together.

Aaliyah Moore is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.

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