The Problem With The "Strong Black Woman" Is That It's Racist

The Problem With The "Strong Black Woman" Is That It's Racist

The "Strong White Woman" isn't a thing.
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Let's be honest. It's considered a great virtue to be powerful and strong. For Black women who endure an entire lifetime of unyielding and tiring racism and sexism, the ability to overcome injustice, inequality and opposition should really be considered superhero type shit.

Every day is a fight to remain sane while continuously dealing with microaggressions, derogatory images, and stereotypes. And at the same time, we have to consistently fight to be heard, respected and treated as an equal. I need a nap just thinking about it.

This fight produces us the title of the "Strong Black Woman," but clearly in vain and at a great cost. While we're crying on the inside due our continuous fight with the world, on the outside we come off as simply crazy. We come off as loud, argumentative, mean, sad and void of emotion. I'd image most Black women have been told that they "don't have feelings" a few times in their life and I promise you, it is one of the most heartbreaking things to hear.

At the end of the day, this title is just another caricature and stereotype. While it is true that the antithesis is probably no better, it is a cross that we have to bear. I think we can all agree that it's simply not fair to have the be the Strong Black Woman all the damn time. Instead, we just want to be women, that happen to be Black. Maybe even a phenomenal woman.

Here's the problem.

On command, the Strong Black Woman must be a shoulder to cry on. For family, for friends and for co-workers...even the ones we don't like. We are expected to be sympathetic to no end—substitute mothers and therapists. And God-forbid a SBW happens to be heavy-set. Then not only is she considered to be all knowing and God-fearing, but expected to be physically strong as well.

The downfall to this is while "emotionally strong" may seem like a great quality to have, the SBW is then considered to be less human. She is assumed to experience less emotional (and physical) pain, is granted less time for greaving, is thought of to have less of a sense of loss and is expected to recover faster from trauma.

One thing the SBW does is sacrifice themselves for others on a constant basis. This goes far beyond emotional support as Black women are often solely financially responsible for a good portion of the people around them. Many Black women are in a financial rut because they always seem to be taking care of everyone else, whilst neglecting themselves. The SBW will indeed work 3 jobs at a single time if that's what it takes to nurture, feed, clothe and keep everyone around her warm and dry, usually without help.

Here are some things to remember about the Black women in your life who you consider to be an SBW. They aren't superheroes. They aren't invisible and can't just mold themselves back together after being physically or emotionally wrecked. They do indeed feel pain, just the same as you. They aren't exempt from having mental health issues. They can suffer from depression and anxiety, same as everyone else. They need to be loved...by parents, by siblings, by friends...etc. And last, but not least, they get mentally exhausted. Black women are raised to continue on in this life without pause and rest from injustices and inequalities, but that isn't to say they don't get tired.


Insofar as, so long as we are kept either desiring, or believing ourselves actually to be, Strong Black Women, there is no amount of pure nonsense, abuse, overwork, ingratitude, exploitation, underappreciation, and just plain shit that we will not put up with.
-
Wambui Mwangi

Cover Image Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde

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A Letter To The Tomboy I Used To Be

To that girl with the baseball hat, board shorts, and grass stains, thank you.
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To the tomboy I used to be,

Thank you so much for making me the strong, beautiful, determined, and badass girl I am today. I am proud of who you've become. It is because of you that I can stand on my own two feet. It is because of you that I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

You were never easy to deal with. Mom and Dad had a lot to handle growing up. It was Dad who had to fight for you to be able to play boys' baseball. It was Mom who had to stand up to the boys that were mean to you for playing a boys' sport. It was both of them who had to cart you around to all of your games and practices, because playing one sport a season was just not enough. It was Mom who had to wash your clothes endless times, because the grass and dirt stains would never come out the first time. Don't ever forget who helped you become who you are.

Your attitude and thought process is very different from that of most girls. You grew up dealing with your problems through wrestling or fighting. Pettiness was not something you could deal with. Your anger came from losing a game, not drama with girls. You didn't understand why girls fought, or were so mean to each other, and to this day, you still don't understand it. You are different. You aren't like most girls by any means, which can be difficult for you, even now. You are so much tougher. You think differently. You are determined.

I love who you turned into. You are so strong; you handle everything with such passion and grit, that I can't help but thank you. Thank you for pushing yourself, and for not letting anything or anyone get in your way. The boys were mean sometimes, and the girls talked about you, but that never fazed you. That chip on your shoulder only made you strive even harder for greatness.

Thank you for making me unique. Thank you for making me extraordinary. Thank you for making me, me.


Love,

Amy

Cover Image Credit: tumblr

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I Found My Voice When I Was Diagnosed With Muscular Dystrophy

How I became a writer

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I have always had a love and passion for writing since I was little. Probably as early as third grade. I would always write makeup stories about monsters and typical third-grade stuff. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Strobbe saw my potential. Her class was hard but it pushed me to become a better writer. Rarely anyone got an A in her class and I had received an A in that class. Then as time went on, I pushed away from writing just because I didn't think I could make way with a career of writing - obviously I was wrong.

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My mom had encouraged me to write again whether in a blog or writing in a journal. I had decided to write in a blog and it felt really good to write again. I only talked about my surgery because I wasn't quite ready to share the whole MD ordeal yet to the whole world. Close family knew but my friends had no clue.

I got into high school and students even teachers would ask me "Why are you riding the elevator?" Why this and that. I didn't really share much because I was afraid people would think differently of me. But I was tired of people asking me. I then wrote a piece on social media and put my story out there for the world and it felt amazing. I finally found my voice and I was loving writing more than ever. It was because I had the courage to speak up and stop hiding. I needed to share what I have been through and teach people to learn to embrace what they've got no matter who you are. I wanted to be the person to make a positive impact on people who have diseases and those who don't understand what it's like having a disability through the power of writing. I wanted to have the power to tell people's unique stories who may be afraid to speak up for themselves or share their story.

My goal when I write is to hopefully make a difference in someone's life or just someone that can be relatable. In high school, I am also highly involved in publications ie being Co-Editor-In-Chief for the Magazine for the last four years and it was a huge game changer as well, I never thought that I could make a living and realistically have a job In the journalism field. Being in publications was an eye-opener. It lead me to so many opportunities- writing for Newsboys, going to Mizzou for Journalism field trips etc. It made me fall in love with writing even more than I had. For me, writing is everything to me and I know I wouldn't be the same person or even the writer I am today without sharing my story.

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