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Saturday, October 28, 2006
Too-Strong Black Women
Is it possible for a woman to be too strong? Especially a Black woman?

My mom and I somehow get on this topic pretty frequently. She considers herself of the strong variety, having raised my brother and I as a single parent. She's now happily married to my great stepdaddy but for 14 years she did it alone. Many times I find myself in awe of how she held it down--she kept my brother and myself in private schools for our entire K-12 journey and managed to see us through college with not so much as an "atta girl, good job" or tuition help from my father. From help with science fairs to FAFSA apps, she did it all. She never complained, and always had a smile. We were in countless activities and she shuttled us from football to dance to piano to boy- and girl-scouts to volleyball to track to little league and everything else we did. Let me just tell you, 20 years of tap competitions isn't cheap at all, and while I foot the bills for dance now, she paid for more costumes and pairs of tap shoes than I can count. She never once missed a home game or a recital.

I use my mom as a prime example of strong womanhood because while she knows she's strong, she feels no need to advertise it. Most strong women are "Pushed Back to Strength" meaning they don't want to be Super Women, but because of a divorce or whatever, are pushed into that role. A lot of my mom's friends are Super Women, and handle it with grace.

However, there is a subsection of these Super Women who exploit their strength and have become "over-strong". I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "You can't fuck with me, I'm a Strong Black Woman" or "A man can't do shit for me cuz I'm a Strong Black Woman". It's sad to me to hear that. Sure my mom had her number of "don't fuck with me" moments, but any woman has those.

I see women strong to the point of coldness, and that's really not necessary. Sure, holding it down on your own will make you tougher than most, but being cold doesn't equate to being tough. This is "over strength". Many of these women reject a good man who is willing to step in and help or at least be a cheerleader for her cause because in her eyes a man can't do anything for her. They develop this "untouchable" attitude or just a plain stank attitude that turns people off.

Ladies, a lesson here. True strength comes in being able to admit that it's hard to hold it down all on your own. All women, whether they have to do it all themselves or not, have to be strong to a point. We already have the chips stacked against us because we're women, and having added melanin just makes it that much harder on us. Yes, a strong woman's emotions may be stifled at times, but don't be afraid to cry. Showing that you're human is a testament to your strength. STANK ATTITUDE does NOT EQUAL STRENGTH. Sure you may have to raise hell sometimes to help and protect you and yours, I don't dispute that. If you're really strong, you need not exploit it and tell everyone you run across how strong you are, because it's already evident.

Do you think the strongest women out there like Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Myrlie Evers, Condi Rice (I include her because she's GOT to have a strong back to be a black republican woman and have no qualms about it) etc earned respect for their strength by telling everyone they run across "I'm a Strong Black Woman, you can't fuck with me"? No, absolutely not. They got up every day and let their strength speak for itself. These women held it down and did so with grace and humility. A truly strong woman knows her strength, yet is humble. Lift your weaker sisters up and help them develop the strength they will need to function in this world. Some of the strongest women in this world are dealing with things that we can't even imagine (think being AIDS infected in Sudan, Africa and not able to feed your child for weeks on end, running from tribal warfare, being a victim of Female Genital Mutilation, being forced to live under a dictator's regime) but they don't advertise it. They just do what they gotta do to survive and their dreams of a better life keep them going. The equation is simple: strength+grace+humility+class=A truly strong Black Woman.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. I'd noticed some sisters were complaining about not finding any brothers to date. Then complaining about why the brothers were dating.

I stopped to talk with some of those brothers and found that they simply dated who was nice --- not because they were chasing non-blacks... it was the lady was the one that smiled and was nice and was interesting, etc.

This "STANK ATTITUDE" as you describe it was a complete turn-off. (Thanks for putting a word to it!). No fellow likes to feel unneeded or unnecessary --- and thanks to this "STANK ATTITUDE" that is so pervasive in the black community, this is leaving many opportunities for all kinds of non-blacks who have found that strength does not mean:

* being rude
* being loud
* making potential dates feel unnecessary

You're a genius.

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