Strong Black Woman (question mark)

19 Oct

It came to my attention last night that perhaps the very thing that defines us may be holding us back.  STRONG.  A while ago I tackled the question “Is being American killing Americans?”  Well, now I’m wondering if being a “strong black woman” is making weak black women.  According to the Journal of Black Psychology‘s article by Portia Adams, “African American adolescent females possess higher self-esteem than anyother racial or ethnic adolescent female group (2010).”  The article continues on to note the various social theories that have predicted low-self esteem  in African American females, but when empirically researched turns out to be incorrect.  Why is this? 

My guess is because the self-reports are inaccurate. When you ask a black girl is she confident, its not likely she will tell you the truth. Especially if you are white, older, and a man.  We have been taught at a very early age that the word STRONG is synonymous with our racial/gender identification.  We will even go so far as to attribute tell-tale signs of mental distress such as stressful living environments, lack of emotional support, inability or resistance to expressingemotion to the “plight of the black woman.”  We have digested the pain and grief that we feel is supposed to be there. Not only that, but we have begun to believe that no matter the circumstance we should be able to overcome it and not only survive but thrive.

Well, my fellow (strong) black women. We are not that strong. Nobody is. I have a theory, that which we view as weak is our biggest fear. We act in spite of it and that is why that which we seek to control, controls us. Thus, we are ruled by not our strengths, but by our weaknesses. To defeat this, one must make not an enemy of weakness but embrace it. Only through yielding can one conquer.  Not being seen as strong is our biggest fear. We act in spite of it, being stoic to the point of detriment.  Only when we yield to our weakness can we really become strong, because strength is in overcoming NOT denial.

Before we begin the road to better lives we must first accept that some things are difficult for us. We must accept our reality as it is.  We must be honest with ourselves.  This is not meant pessimistically, it is meant as a reality check.  It is not weak to ask for help.  It is not weak to admit you need help.  It is not weak to own that something is wrong.  We are not one-word; neither our strength nor our weakness.

Do you see fault in the STRONG black woman mantra?


2 Responses to “Strong Black Woman (question mark)”

  1. GG October 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    There are definite underlying assumptions with this “strong black woman” mantra if only because some of us take it so literally to mean that we can’t be strong and vulnerable at the same time. We ARE amazingly strong. How could we not be, when all of us are divine in nature?? However, I think that we actually decrease our strength and power when we don’t allow ourselves to feel….when we deny ourselves the right to have ups and downs. What makes us stronger? Falling down and getting up. Why would we want to deny ourselves any opportunity to grow, learn and ultimately share our growth with our communities?

  2. DrKimExSuperwoman February 5, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Love your post! I do research on the Strong Black Woman Myth and have started a blog in which you might be interested: There’s a lot to be said about this issue. It’s so wonderful to hear another sista’s viewpoint. Thanks!

    PEACE! – Dr. Kim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: