The Stigma of the Strong Black Woman

America’s unappreciated hero is the Black woman. 

Often celebrated for being the first willing to protect, care, and give, the mental wellness of Black women is frequently corrupted by a false sense of autonomy – that everything maneuvered must be done so alone. 

Calling attention to how far we need to continue progressing doesn’t take away from the heroic feats of our ancestors such as Angela Davis or Harriet Tubman

Presented in the media and within my own life is the idea that Black women have to drown in colorism coming from our communities, racism due to the belief we don’t belong in highly-ranked positions, and the self-hatred that forms from society’s denial of our beauty. We still have to deal with receiving limited credits within the pursuit of life’s endeavors, but are expected to “power through it.” 

From what I’ve seen, I’ve been able to draw from my mother’s experiences. 

She’s suffered through familial issues that span from addiction to absence. 

Much of the grief she’s dealt with is something she’s handled on her own. 

At one point, she raised my sister and me on a less than twenty-thousand-dollar salary. 

Through any pain or letdowns she may have encountered throughout her professional career and in her personal life, she still finds the time to wake up four hours past midnight to travel many more hours just to get to work. 

She’s the epitome of who people would perceive a strong Black woman to be. 

I guess my gripe is why should she have to be? Why above her accomplishments is a label placed on her dwellings with disaster? 

She’s so much more than the chaos she’s had to endure. 

We as Black women are so much more than the problems in need of solving. 

I think the stigma that comes from the “strong Black woman” phrase arises when people use it to rationalize their disrespect against us, almost as if it’s viable because of the notion we’ll overcome it as we’ve done everything else we’ve been through. 

Just as it’s difficult to experience, it’s also just as hard to talk about. 

We can’t seem to voice our opinions without society’s opposing views on how we express our vulnerability.

Recently, I happened to view the clip of Angela Bassett not having what people view as a celebratory reaction to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Oscar win. From comments I saw among Twitter discourse and on YouTube, viewers of the clip seemed pretty divided. 

In the midst of what I read and saw in her reaction, I think Bassett had every right to feel what she felt when she lost. 

It seems as if not even an expression of genuine dissatisfaction is above widespread condemnation from the public. 

There’s nothing wrong with being strong and triumphing over matters in question, but we’re still only humans trying to figure out the world’s landscape. 

When will the world allow Black women to feel comfortable crying or sharing emotion over pain? When will the world stop traumatizing us?

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