Friday, June 17, 2011
When Being A Strong Black Woman Goes Wrong
Would you consider yourself a "strong" black woman? If you're not a black woman, but you are a woman, and you're reading this, would you describe yourself as "strong"? Recently, I was over at A Belle in Brooklyn, and she referenced an article about "strong black women", written by a man, RK Beyers. To use the same quote that Belle did, Beyers stated:
We hear so much about “Strong Black Women”—recently even newly crowned NBA MVP Derrick Rose described his mother as a “Strong Black Woman”—that it almost seems as if the words “Black woman” should also, by definition, have the word “strong” implied.
But “strength” is a masculine trait.
And as the psychological warfare continues that is now trying to explain to us that Black women are the ugliest women alive because they have more testosterone than other women, forgive me if I don’t feel comfortable using any terms even remotely manly when describing someone as lovely, tender and delicate as my mother.
Hmm??? Interesting. His sentiment was sweet and gives me something to think about. When and why has being a "strong" black woman become a bad thing?
I don't know Mr. Beyers' mother so I wouldn't dare speak about her. But I'm quite familiar with my own, and though she is "lovely, tender, and delicate", I don't think I'd be misleading if I said that she was strong. Strength in my view is not a masculine trait. It's unisex. I cannot tell you, but I can only imagine how strong you have to be to bear a child. But if that doesn't take some sort of, strength then I must have the definition wrong.
With that being said, I could argue that our strength, can often be to our detriment. I can't speak for all women but I can speak for myself, and I don't know if it's the "strong black woman" in me, but I often find it hard to back down from a fight. That's with anyone. Some fights, I just don't have the time nor energy to partake in. Though the ones I do strap up for, I come out guns blazing. Remember, I told ya'll I was a g.
But even G's mess up sometimes. We may not know when to fall back. When someone pushes, we push harder. When a jab is thrown, we counter with a cross. We've all heard of picking and choosing our battles, but even the battles we choose are sometimes irrelevant. Too often people don't realize that we give life to things that would have none, had we not given them our attention.
Me, huh? I make it hard to come back even if I wanted to. Many times I've been left wondering, Ehh? Have I said too much? Was THAT the point of no return? How far is too far and how do we stop ourselves from getting there? How do we soften that "strong" black woman? And do we want to?
Recently, I was beefing with my boo and he says to me, "why do you have to be such a strong black woman?" Huh? I immediately thought back to the article I'd read and how the term has become an insult. So much so that men even avoid "strong" black women. A woman by definition, should be soft and feminine, but even I can admit that sometimes the lines can be blurred. Now don't get me wrong, I can bump some Ms. Independent and Girls Run the World with the best of 'em. At the same time, listening to James Brown belt out "It's a Man's World", isn't the most absurd thing either. The problem is finding a balance.
We all have our roles to play and part of that is knowing when to step back. When to play your position. How to be a strong black woman, but being a woman all the same. You follow me? I'm still figuring it out. How bout you??