Perpetuating the Myth: The Strong Black Woman

That’s funny right? I know it is, but you know I can’t just let you get off that easy…

Images like this, though they’re funny, participate in the construction of Black women as fearless.  It utilizes a very dangerous myth for Black women: the myth of the Strong Black Woman.  A myth that doesn’t allow for the existence of Black women who find themselves in situations where they’re defenseless and afraid.  Instead, Black women continue to get messages that we have to be strong for everyone else.  Our partners, our families… They need us and we’re fiercely loyal to those who need us; loyal to a fault. We’re loyal to relationships that do us harm, people who won’t reciprocate the love, and we put up with things we shouldn’t because we “can handle it.”

Though the world has expectations of us to take care of them (Sister Zora said that we were the “mules of the world”), we need to learn how to take care of ourselves or else we run the risk of being too strong for our own good.

Someone special in my life shared Debrena Jackson Gandy’s work with me and I instantly found the language to start talking to myself better. I was able to treat myself better, in other words, I stopped being so hard on myself when I couldn’t do something for someone and just had to say “no”.  It gave me the courage to stop taking care of other people before I took care of myself.  And I started to get comfortable with doing things that just made me happy–for no other reason than because they made me happy

For as much as I think Black women need this especially, I think the message is universal: We all need to get happy, because no body’s going to give it to us.

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