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STRONG BLACK WOMAN

I see this phrase all over. On tee-shirts and in black owned (afro-centric) shopping centers. In the gift shops in Harlem and on posters at the churches. Every time I see the phrase I cringe. I’m not the only one. The poet Laini Mataka wrote:
The Strong Black Woman is Dead!
On August 15, 1999 at 11:55 p.m., while struggling with the reality of being a human instead of a myth, the strong black woman passed away, without the slightest bit of hoopla. Medical sources say that she died of natural causes, but those who knew and used her know she died from: being silent when she should have been screaming, milling when she should have been raging, being sick and not wanting anyone to know because her pain might inconvenience them. An overdose of other people clinging on to her when she didn't even have energy for herself.


Zora Neale Hurston, wrote: "The black woman is the mule of the earth." The story goes like this: the white man had a burden and he gave it to the white woman to carry..she added on some her burdens and passed it to the black man, he added it on his burdens and gave it to the black woman. She added on her burdens but when she turned around no one was there to take it up. Or in the words of Nanny of Their Eyes Were Watching God:
"So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so far as Ah can see."


Who started this nonsense about black women being strong in the first place? Well there was Mammy in Gone With the Wind, chasing after Scarlett O'Hara, there was Sapphire of Amos ’n’ Andy. Who is the creature? This matriarchbrutish, strong, self sufficient. She needs no help, she never complains, she works hard and never gets anywhere but where she is. But that’s fine with her. It sounds like a shitty life.

The more I think about it the more I think that being strong is not such a good thing.

I'm not strong. I'm weak worn-out and in pain. I'm HUMAN and I can barely just get by living my life, let alone having some dumb "strong black woman" image to live up to. I'm dainty and sensitive. I'm not strong. Don't ask me to be strong, I won't do it. I don't want to have to work harder just because I have brown skin and breasts.

I'll work hard, but only as hard as I can-- and that's not exceptional.

The world depresses me most of the time. I don't like being black or a woman here in the USA. When I think about it all I just wanna cry like a little kid. If anyone ever calls me strong again I'll stop speaking to them! People say I'm strong all the time. I hate that.

I take it as an insult. What do you think I am? A MULE?

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