Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Failure of the Strong Black Woman


One of surefire ways of avoiding victimhood is
asking for what you need.

This, can be a tremendously difficult thing to do, simply because
you make yourself vulnerable to being rejected.

That being said, as a tool for getting out of victim hood thinking,
I have begun to ask people for things with I need. For example,
I need a successful pitch letter because I am trying to publish
articles this year, can you get one for me?"

"I need help moving, can you help me? "

"I need help storing boxes, can you help me?"

It is no one else's job but my own to determine what I

Here is the added caveat, I also say, its okay, if you can't,
just let me know so that I can ask someone else.

This forces me to ask for what I need, avoid being a victim,
and gives the person room to say no and not feel bad.

I find that if I am not getting any traction on the goals
that I have set for myself, I am either not being disciplined
enough, I am not asking for help, or both.

It is very easy to look around at others whose
careers are blossoming or whose projects are
blowing up and hate them, because they
doing what they need to do to get their needs met.

It is very easy to look around at others and see
that their needs are taken care of and be angry
at myself because my needs are not being met.

It is something totally different to sit down and think
about what I need, to think about how I
can get it, to
thinking about who I can call and say
"I need your help, I want to start a new website
on gentrification, can you design my banner?"

It is something totally different to sit down and think
about what I need, to think about how I can get it, and
to have the discipline to think about the small
intermediary goals before the big goals.

Which brings me to the Failure of the Strong Black Woman.

Wallace talks about being called a Strong Black Woman.
It made me cringe to hear men refer to me as "strong,"
because I knew they were referring to the historical
me, he monolithic me- the invincible black woman who
made their penises shrivel up in their bellies, who reminded
them that they had no power to control their own destinies,
much less hers, who made them loathe and want to destroy
that woman. Never realizing how imaginary her "strength"
really was, I swore never to use it.
Wallace's description of the term, "Strong", underscores
the discomfort that many of us have had with it.

Yes, I want to be called strong because I am survivor.

I also have had to remind myself that strong doesn't mean
that I don't need help.

I would imagine that you are asking what is the connection
between having my needs met to the myth of the Strong Black

Well, they are connected because we, Black women,
tend to put the needs of our families, our children and our partners
first. If we constantly put the needs of others first, we will
be saying yes on the outside and resentful on the inside.

Yes, our families are a priority. Yes our partners are a priority.

But, our financial, spiritual and creative health comes first.

I can't take care of anyone if I am in my grave.

Think about your needs lately?

Why is it so hard to do that?

I am thinking about Rihanna.


Mrs Sweetwater said...

Say That Girlll..Say All of That

Brown Sugar said...


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