How many times has someone told you to "be strong?" How many times have you heard a black woman proudly say, "I'm a Strong Black Woman?"
The Strong Black Woman Narrative
The strong black woman narrative is a set of standards in which a black woman is expected to uphold. These standards are determined by her ability to restrain from showing or having emotions that may cause her to appear weak (such as crying or complaining), her level of independence, and her ability to care for others.
The strong black woman is a woman who is invincible no matter the obstacle she comes across. She is given less than the bare minimum and expected to create "magic" from it. She continues to be a means of support for others while neglecting her needs. From the outside looking in, it may seem like an accomplishment to be able to rise above it all and still be "strong" for others. However, the strong black woman was created to benefit everyone, except the black woman herself.
Although some may argue that there are some benefits to the strong black woman narrative, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.
The History of the Strong Black Woman
The strong black woman narrative has been in existence since slavery when women were sold and raped. Even having to be subjected to such conditions, they were still looked at as the foundation of the family. She was still relied upon for various tasks by her family and her master.
Later, African American families were impacted by the Crack Epidemic, which removed black men from their families and caused the black woman to step into the role of provider for the family. Throughout the years, through the separation of black families, the black woman has had to take care of their families on their own just to survive.
Identifying the "Strong Black Woman"
Here are just a few examples of the strong black woman:
The strong black woman prides herself on the image of strength. She is typically the "strong friend" that is there for everyone when they need a should to cry on or a shoulder to lean on.
The strong black woman struggles with being vulnerable with others because she considers vulnerability as a sign of weakness. Ultimately, she ends up suppressing her feelings and may struggle with healthy communication.
The strong black woman has a hard time setting the proper boundaries with others so she is usually mistreated by the very people that she neglects herself for. She has not established a healthy sense of self-worth so she believes that all of the relationships in her life have to come from a place of struggle and sacrifice and "hanging in there" until things get better. She believes that she has to suffer and be used before she can "reap" her reward.
Changing the "Strong Black Woman" Narrative
The strong black woman narrative is killing black women! This toxic narrative can lead to depression, higher stress levels, and other mental health issues. The black woman has been suffering in silence for a long time. It's time to put down the load and prioritize yourself because you matter, too.
Contact us today to see how we can help you change the narrative.
Disclaimer: For informational use only. This is not medical advice. A therapist-client relationship has not been established by receiving and/or viewing blogs from Well-Life Counseling & Spiritual Center, PLLC.