Facing My Feelings on the Strong Black Woman Trope
During this morning’s shower meditation I had a couple of things on my mind. This is not new, but these ideas were strong enough to get me to actually put something on paper, and thus, this post, "Hi!" I was thinking about The Shades of Blue Project, for which I am the Marketing and Public Relations Consultant. I was thinking about why this project came to be and the black woman who broke so that it could come to fruition (Hey Kay!)… and that made me think of the “Strong Black Woman” mythos; how so very often this idea that black women have to be Superwoman is killing us. Literally.
So after I got through singing a rousing rendition of Superwoman that would make Karyn White cry (joy, laughter, who knows) I started running through the many reasons the mythos should die so that many of us can live. I thought about what it really means to be strong. If I were in my finite wisdom to tell other women, black women in particular, how to be strong or what it MEANS to be strong, I’d say first and foremost advise women to be strong enough to say “No”. I believe No is the most magnificent statement in the history of language… the fact that it’s almost universal in its expression in various languages says a lot about its inherent power. No. No. No. Practice with me. No.
Learning how to say “No” and equally importantly to respect and receive a “No” was one of my most powerful life lessons. As a born "people pleaser", the word "no" was so far from my vocabularic understanding it caused me physical pain to use it. It was traumatic. But my life was out of control. I was coming up empty cause I wanted to give so much and had left nothing for myself. My finances were in constant turmoil and I felt like I had no footing for myself. Coming into the spiritual understanding of a holy ghost fired “NO” made my life so much better. I became addicted. You get a NO! You get a NO! You over there, NO!
I had to bring it back into balance of course, and I learned that over time. I learned to listen to myself, am I tired? Can I really spare that? Is this going to cause me unrest? I learned to value my peace, my autonomy and my spirit enough to step out of this tired trite trope of being the unofficial pack mule for everyone else’s burdens. For all that we ascribe masculinity to the god-figure, we surely like to ask women to be a sacrifice and to be out here saving like Jesus said tag you’re it.
"For all that we ascribe masculinity to the god-figure, we surely like to ask women to be a sacrifice and to be out here saving folk like Jesus said tag you’re it."
So I ask my sisters out there to redefine what a strong black woman is to YOU! We love to quote Audre Lorde, but do we really know what it means to define ourselves for ourselves? If you need help, be strong enough to be vulnerable and ask for it. If you need to stop, say stop. If you’re tired say you’re tired. If you’re depressed and can’t find your way out no matter how much you pray, find a good therapist, then GO! Go get your healing, your rest, your break, your freedom, your choice... Go get it! Stand in the strength of knowing, you’re a strong enough woman to say NO to this lie that you have to be everybody’s everything and suffer in strong silence. Strength can be loud too.
I love you,
What are some of the ways you're going to be strong for you today?