Summer Walker and Social Anxiety

I’ve been disappointed but not surprised by the reaction Black people have had towards Summer Walker. Y’all were just screaming that Black people need to open up about mental health and here you are degrading a Black woman for opening up about her mental health. The reasons for it? Many people are unsympathetic to celebrities,don’t think Black women deserves sympathy, and are uneducated about anxiety disorder.

We always talk about taking breaks in order to protect our mental health, so why are people upset that Summer Walker cancelled her tour because of her social anxiety? Why can’t she be offered support for something we push for? People think they are entitled to celebrities. They think that seeing her perform is more important than this woman’s mental health. Celebrities are humans. They deal with things too. I feel a lot of this animosity towards her for her mental health is projection. Some people are bitter about their own situations and can’t sympathize with someone who is “doing better” than they are. They dealt with coldness throughout their life and it’s hard for them to be kind to others who have what they don’t.

There’s this problem with people berating Black women for literally everything. First people accused Summer Walker of being dirty. Now people are mad at her for having anxiety. It’s almost like people get off on tearing Black women down. They go out of their way to try and break us, and it applies to this situation. Many can sympathize with Kanye West, but can’t give Summer the same treatment. They’re giving sympathy to rapists and abusers a lot of the time too. How often do we talk about Black women who suffer from mental illnesses? When we talk about Black women it’s either the emotional labor we bear for everyone or stereotypes to dehumanize us. We are viewed as one-dimensional characters. Black women are either the superheroes or the enemy. People would rather accuse us of being nasty then acknowledge that we struggle too.

I also blame the lack of education on mental health. People do not fully understand anxiety if they don’t suffer from it. They think that anxiety is a one size fits all. But it varies from person to person. For some reason, a lot of people think that social anxiety is simply a fear of people. That’s why they can’t understand the fact that Summer Walker was once a stripper or that she posts herself dancing on Instagram. Like everyone else, individuals with anxiety work to make a living for themselves. All of us do not have the option to stay home. This girl was working to put food on her table. We don’t know what she experienced while working there either. I’ve worked multiple customer service jobs as a person with social anxiety. That doesn’t mean I don’t have it. People compared her dancing in the kitchen with her boyfriend to performing on stage in front of thousands of people. Those are two completely different things! I suffer from social anxiety. But I love dancing at parties and being seen. At the same time, I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a class. Does that invalidate my social anxiety because it isn’t always an issue? Some folks even went as far as to say she was pretending to have social anxiety. Why would someone cancel a tour that’s making them money if it wasn’t for a serious issue? I’ve quit jobs because of my anxiety. I was not happy to pass up on money but I did it because dealing with anxiety is not easy, especially in certain situations.

Observers were quick to label her as, “rude, and, “ungrateful,” when the behavior she exhibited was anxiety. She checked her phone while on stage because she was uncomfortable. She was “dry” during meet and greets because she was uncomfortable. This is what I mean by Black women being labeled as, “nasty,” before people consider that we’re also going through things.

Another thing that bothered me the most was people who didn’t deal with anxiety offering unwarranted advice. They suggested that she quit music since her social anxiety bothered her. Not only is it ignorant to tell someone to give up their dream, it’s also unhelpful for people who deal with anxiety. If you don’t suffer the disorder, keep your advice to yourself.

People don’t understand why someone, including myself, would go so hard for Summer Walker. It’s because I understand what it’s like being a Black girl with anxiety. It’s because I’m actually being honest when I say I support Black women. I meant it when I said that Black people need to get rid of the stigma around mental illness. Unlike a lot of these people, I don’t say it to just seem woke.

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