The Myth and Narrative of the Strong Black Woman

The Myth and Narrative of the Strong Black Woman


By Nicole Rice aka Verbal Essence

During my times growing up, I was encouraged to be STRONG. It was a narrative that I carried with me for years. To me, strength represented carrying some unbearable load while trying to manage my life, my goals, my finances, being kind, being a good person and now today, being a good parenting. I was indirectly shown that it wasn’t okay to show vulnerability or sensitivity, only fortitude and strength. I had no idea what being broken was. Only that I had to keep it moving, don’t cry to long, don’t be too touchy, power forward. I had no idea until I started going through life and hearing the narrative of being a Strong Black Woman. Especially when I got into the military, that was a badge of honor to me to have the veneer that I could do ALL. BY MYSELF.

Being in the military only pushed forward a masculine and white agenda that was never serving Black men or women.  But that song is not only false, but it is also damaging. During the days of slavery, our fathers, grandfathers, husbands, sons, uncles and brothers were beaten and often killed leaving the Black women (slaves) to stay back to provide and protect their children (slaves), often leaving them vulnerable. The Black woman began to see her life without the strength of her King until the song changed into “I don’t need a man.” When in all actuality, it is not true. What I am speaking on does not represent how all Black women feel, but it represents how we are not protected and not respected.

Henceforth, creating multitudes of women like myself who feel they must take on the load to make it through the day…I noticed even in my own behavior, I became incredibly intolerant and guarded to even let a man love me because of the fear of abandonment that is deeply rooted. Henceforth the creation of a “Strong Black Woman.” Being a “Strong Black Woman,” a woman who doesn’t have time to explore her sadness, her anger and her brokenness, but the sake of life and everyone else around her she must ignore her own needs to satisfy everyone else’s. The epitome of a woman is to feel and be perceptive to her surroundings, but sometimes as a black woman, I personally feel that is a luxury not afforded to me because I do not get to be angry, I do not get to be frustrated or hurt, need compassion or companionship. The role is so distorted, you spend so much time defending yourself against the outside world and things you cannot control, you often fail to pay attention to your spirit. That is where the narrative falters with the SBW.

So many alleged studies have been done on Black women on how they are the least desirable and the least likely to get married. Which has come to be what is sold on the plight of the Black woman. Since the days of welfare and receiving government assistance, which encourages a Black man not to be in the home while receiving aid, it furthermore causes a chasm between Black women and Men for decades causing the diabolical demise of the black family. Henceforth, creating the falsehood of not needing one another.

Propaganda has sold society how Black women were foreseen to be angry and alone is becoming too common due to the SBW myth that continues to be played over and over. My purpose here is not to take away any positive experiences one has experiences, but to take a Bird’s Eye view at how the majority, if not all Black women have been viewed. Furthermore, encouraging more women like myself to take care of their mental, spiritual and emotional health without feeling one must take on the load due to a song that has been sung for years and years, that the Strong Black Woman can do it ALL and ALL ALONE.