Strong Black Woman – Really?


(Strong Black Woman) – A woman of African descent who hits the gym, does some serious weight lifting and can deliver some good blows if ever caught in a fight.

This is what comes to my mind anytime I hear that term used.

But really, what is the true definition of a Strong Black Woman (SBW)? We hear and use the term over and over again, sometimes referring to ourselves, our mothers, sisters, and friends, or some influential black woman we know, but do we really understand what we mean when we use the term? Is the emphasis being placed on the word strong? Black? Or woman? If not the second, why then categorize it to race? Why not just say strong woman? Are strong women only Black women?

AfriclecticThere is so much to consider when seeking understanding of what is meant when someone is referred to as a SBW. Frankly speaking, being a woman and being black does NOT suggest that one possesses strength. Yes it is true that Black women are subjected to much oppression, degradation and labeling, but that still does not make one strong.

We have heard the term used for decades and automatically relate it to any Black woman who has been able to stand up to a man, or who has been able to raise three children on her own. We use the term to describe any woman who has been subjected to hardship- who has managed to rise up against all odds. We use the term to refer to the woman who can handle it all – the independent.

Is this really an accurate definition of the term though? I think not. When we use the term in the aforementioned senses, it becomes clichéd. We use SBW to describe everyone from Rosa Parks, and Oprah Winfrey to a neighbor who slapped and cursed off her cheating husband’s woman and exposed the scandal via Facebook, to the black girl at work who “took” stationary from work to her home because she’s upset that the boss did not pay her for some very well deserved overtime. Almost every black woman then can relate to the phrase, and will call themselves a strong black woman when really what they’re doing is emasculating their femininity and revealing themselves as rough, harsh, uncouth, and boisterous. A SBW is tender.

While I do understand that black women face a struggle that is very real and alive, I do believe we need to first understand what it truly means to be a woman who is black and who possesses strength, and not just merely a woman who is strong.

A Black Woman with Strength is a woman who holds her own; a woman with self worth who knows her value. She does not stoop to the level of others to prove that she is strong. She handles herself with dignity and pride.

A Black Woman with Strength does not pride in the acquisition of material things, but rather, she feeds off of educating herself and nourishing her mind with material that will propel her in a positive direction.

A Black Woman with Strength is compassionate and loving. She acts as both comforter and superhero to those in her care. She gives of her best to everyone especially to those closest to her. Her love is genuine and real.

If then any Black woman possesses that measure of strength, she is deserving of being called a Strong Black Woman.

What is your definition of a Strong Black Woman?