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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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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Let's Talk About Israel

As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government.

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As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government. I know there is a need for a country for Jewish people to reside without fear of anti-semitism. Especially following the rise of it after the election of the Trump administration and following the shooting in Pittsburg. There have been many actions taken around the world that continue to prove my point that anti-semitism is on the rise and that there is a need for Israel as a home for the Jewish people. However, the actions taken by the Israeli government have made it truly difficult for me to support Israel with all of my being.

Some of my issues with the state of Israel lie within its treatment of Jews who are not Orthodox as well as people who are not Jewish at all. Since it follows international law that all people are allowed to follow there own religious beliefs and practices, it should follow that religious states allow for leniency underneath laws made surrounding religious beliefs. When it comes to Orthodox versus Reform and Conservative Jews, Israel has some laws that directly limit the rights and abilities of this population. For example, Orthodox Rabbis have exclusive rights to perform marriages in Israel.

Also, dual citizenship for Jews is limited to Orthodox Jews. This would mean that every single Jew who is not Orthodox or who did not convert under Orthodox law do not have rights to dual citizenship. Gay marriage is not legal in Israel yet also despite Tel Aviv has one of the biggest Pride Parades that occur each year. With all of these pieces coming together, I have had to come to terms with what it means to support a country whose leader does support me as a reform Jew and as a bisexual woman. My right to practice my chosen profession in Israel would not even be recognized due to the fact that not only am I reform but I am female. I would not be allowed to practice Rabbinic's in Israel.

Also, Israel has been committing atrocities during their recent conflict with Hamas and in their push to claim territory on the West Bank. The Settlements have been created through incentive programs that make it more fiscally reasonable to live there. Israeli citizens often move out there more for financial reasons. The conflicts with Hamas have caused countless civilian casualties on both sides. Both Hamas and the Israeli government have been committing acts of war and putting innocent lives in the way of their continued issue with each other.

Most of what I explained is barely scraping the tip of the iceberg that is Israel and its many conflicts, issues, and history. My issue with Israel rests within its government and the people in charge. The way Netanyahu has taken to leading the country is an embarrassment and a travesty. Watching these actions unfold over the last few years under Netanyahu have made me question my support of such a beautiful country.

Each government has its own issues. However, I have found a fine line between supporting Israel and her right to exist and not supporting her leaders. The people who run the country do not reflect the beliefs of the people and of the religion that the country represents. This must be emphasized as the line between disagreeing with Israel and disagreeing with Judaism altogether has been blurred.

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