Let’s face it, 2020 has been a difficult year for us all as a collective, we’ve had to put up a strong front when facing situations that many of us never saw coming.
But in this blogpost, I wanted to touch upon the saying or statement’s made about black women and the perception that we have to be ‘strong’. Whether that may be physically or emotionally is left to interpretation, but lately the topic of whether black women should be strong or whether they are protected enough has become a common discussion amongst friends and within current pop culture.
After reading an article on Greater Good Magazine about this stereotype and how it both empowers and hurts women, I began to resonate with some of the feelings that they described. How we are meant to put on a sort of “body armour” and go into the world with this persona ofbeing strong and facing all the battles that may come with that day, and how our ‘blackness’ should act as the number one thing that stops us from expressing ouremotions. In the midst of racial injustice recently, I can understand why this would be a frustrating thing for women to face. Imagine having to bottle up your emotions when we are constantly faced with hurt and grief?
The stereotype has the aim to empower women, to lift up their spirits and push women to go through boundaries that they may face. But aren’t we given off the narrative that black women aren’t meant to acknowledge their weaknesses and times when they are in low spirits? If you think about it – it almost presents itself with a superhero persona, just like a superhero would face any obstacle in a movie they automatically know what to do- fight the enemy right? I guess black women feel the same way- they have no time to react or to express emotions- they are black, they are female, and they are strong, meaning they have to fight off whatever comes their way.
But what are the dangers to this?
We can say that black women aren’t protected as much as other races and this is evident in our societies when it comes to the police or within our own communities and relationships, therefore forcing this persona of being ‘strong’, actually leads women to believe they don’t have a chance to speak up, or to campaign for better protection for themselves and better recognition of their rights. After all they are black and strong-why should they complain?
Let’s look at some examples. Healthcare- according to the BBC the chance of death is 1 in 2,500 for black women, the rate for white women is five times smaller for white women (2014-2016)
Racial Injustice- Oluwatoyin Salau who was subject to family abuse under traditional religious practises and values and sadly passed away whilst trying to fight for her cause was silenced and failed by her community
The Workplace- black women are stereotypically perceived as being assertive and within possession of an attitude
And so on…
Are we saying that with the examples mentioned above, black women are supposed to conceal their emotions and act in a way that is meant to be bold and strong? in reality, those examples are only a fraction of what we go through, are we meant to just bottle these things up and keep it hush?
Coming to a solid conclusion on this would be tricky. I’m stuck between doing everything I can to support the empowerment and betterment of women, with the hopes of us fulfilling our potentials in whatever aspect of our lives. However- not at the detriment of our wellbeing’sand mental health. The ‘Strong Black Woman’ should not be a mould that women have to fit into just to be praised by society. It shouldn’t act as a barrier for us to admit that yes, at times we go through struggles ourselves. Having to pertain to this idea of this woman overcoming any trial that she may face is difficult just as enough as it sounds. I guess it’s the same as saying ‘Boys don’t cry’ when in reality they should and THEY DO, and because of this it has caused a lot of problems in the toxic masculinity department, and it shouldn’t be the same in the female department.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading!