On Being a "Strong Black Woman"


The term "Strong Black Woman" is an affront to me, and I wish to never be called it again. I just finished a semester long research project on the topic "Liberality, Spirituality and Love: The Evolution, Fallacy and Redefinition of the Strong Black Woman". It's a fitting conclusion to my doctoral coursework on the "Psyche of the Soul".

This research topic has challenged me to no end. Throughout the course of this project, I realized how this term has been used to harm and challenge black women in ways that are unhealthy. We pass this idea down from generation to generation and raise the bar repeatedly without dealing with the root causes for the struggle that makes black women have to be so strong.

Generally speaking, the causes for the negative repercussions affiliated with the myth of the "Strong Black Woman" stem from: (1) the systematic patriarchal structure of organized religion (specifically Christianity and Islam), which informs the "virtue" or perceived value of black women, (2) a societal pressure to perform so that she (individually) and black women (collectively) transcend(s) the stigma of "weak" or "dependant", and (3) the failure of black men to both protect and provide for black women in a way that supports the patriarchal structure most of them subscribe to. Generally speaking, if black men were doing their jobs and supporting women in a way that speaks to the male-dominated patriarchal structure/belief system they benefit from, black women could focus their attention in other areas of personal growth and healing. She would not have to do her job and his. (There's a whole lot to say here. The research was shocking.)

The saddest part of my research suggested that black women are the number one perpetrators of the "Strong Black Woman" image as they unknowingly pass down this idea of strength. Generally speaking, many black women resist psychological help or spiritual retooling to help change her mind about what it means to be strong, and we hurt our daughters and communities as a result. We struggle as we lean to our own traditional/historical understanding of womanhood. Just because something has always been doesn't mean it should always be.

I have ended my research and have concluded that this image and stigma needs to end. It is literally killing us. If you want more details regarding how, just ask.

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