For as long as I can remember I've always been uncomfortable with the term' strong black woman'. In my opinion it is just as dangerous as the 'angry black woman' stereotype and I'll discuss why I think so too.
According to google one of the definitions of strong is :
'The ability to withstand force, pressure, or wear'.
On the surface it's not necessarily a bad thing and really, who would want to be 'weak'? My issue is that when juxtaposed with 'black' as well it just becomes a double negative stereotype reminiscent of the 'angry black woman'.
One has to wonder why women, particularly black women have such terms relating to emotions about them; if you're not angry, you must be strong. what happened to just being black? I know that people mean well and perhaps even see it as a compliment but what I see it as is the erasure of emotions.
There's nothing wrong with being strong and there's also nothing wrong with not wanting to feel strong at times. There will be moments where being 'strong' is the last thing on your mind and you may not always 'have it all together'. When you're constantly being told that you're a
strong black woman, you may feel that you are not able to show emotions that are seen as contrary to strong. For a long time I was told by others that I'm 'strong' and for whatever reason I felt that I had to keep up that facade because I was not allowed to be anything but strong. I had been put in a box that gave me no room to move. I was expected to react a certain way because that is what a strong black woman does, right? It is worth nothing that the 'strong' word is sometimes used for women in general which I still take an issue to.
I understand that situations happen whereby you have no choice but to be strong because maybe your family is depending on it, your children or other people are. I commend the fact that there are black women that rise to the challenge and do what they can to keep it moving but being strong does not have to be the overarching identity you run with especially at the expense of other emotions. You don't always have to put on your 'big girl boots', sometimes wear your slippers and chill.
You see when you're seen as strong, you're not given permission to be 'weak', to possibly even ask for help or just to say "Look, I don't have it all together and right about now I'm feeling really really vulnerable'. Heck, you're maybe not even allowed to cry because that is not what a strong black woman does, right? You have to be tough as nails and just get on with it,
The irony of it all is that I feel as a society we are working towards dismantling the notion that men must be strong and 'real men don't cry' and I think it's about time that the strong black women stereotype is compressed-once and for all.