The Secret Life of The Strong Black Woman

What’s the criteria?

Like seriously, how much stuff are we supposed to take on silently, muscle through and overcome? 2016 had me wanting to call in Black, and the election had me wanting to call in Woman… but considering those options have never existed… I, like everyone else in my shoes, toughed it out no matter how exhausting it’s been.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/

Maybe I’m just tired because I started to write this post in January and now it’s December of 2017.
Maybe I’m in a mood because it took Hidden Figures to come out to realize that there are people in the world that are more apt to receive the Moon Landing as a conspiracy than the byproduct of Black Women making a way out of no-way like we’ve been forced to do over years of having to show up with twice as much no matter how qualified we find ourselves.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/herstory/

Maybe I’m exhausted because over the past year I’ve witnessed the least qualified employee ever, keep the highest-ranking job in the country despite every reason under the sun that he should have been marched out Call-Center “you didn’t meet your goals” style. While the only small victories have been the firings of the ever-growing list of “Creeps on TV” followed by R.Kelly and his alleged sex dungeons of Atlanta getting robbed blind.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/alabama-exit-polls/

Either way, as we close out 2017 (which has proven to be 2016X) having I’m reflecting on the power of Sisterhood. From the start of the Black Lives Matter movement to our Alabama sisters showing up and saving the day at the polls. We’ve been ingrained with this sense of duty to pick up the pieces, take the lead and use what we have to make everything alright.

 We lean on one another, pick up the phone in the middle of our hellish days and find refuge in the emphatic exchanges of “Giiiiiiiiiirl, let me tell you…” We get behind each other’s dreams, find out the scoop on the other’s behalf, keep the secrets and take the lead on speaking up when it’s needed.

It’s the Grandmothers and Aunts that don’t charge us for babysitting. The work friends that cover our shifts when tragedy strikes. We can and have organized over the years in coalitions as small as the block or as large as a united front on behalf of all of the women of the world… even when there are still parts of the world don’t affirm us. It’s the out loud “Oh no, not today!” from across the room that gives us the strength to speak up for ourselves. The text messages under the table coaching appropriate responses to blatant disrespect.

But here’s the thing. We can’t be left to be the pit bull forever. It will literally kill us. We are allowed to feel every human emotion. There’s no shame in needing to take some time to cry, get centered, regroup or heal. We have to find a way to normalize our need for help without letting others make us feel as though we’ve robbed them by not being 100% ready to bear the weight of the world.

I know I’ve been away for a while, and from my last post, you know about my Grandmother’s fight. Well, she gained her freedom from the prison her body turned into on December 3rd, the day that marked 30 weeks in my current pregnancy. By all means, I should have had a pass to just sit down somewhere and cry, and while I did, I couldn’t help but feel guilty about not staying “Strong”. A few people had to talk me down from refusing any help from the people that love me, and I’ll forever be grateful that I eventually listened.

Can we suck it up and push silently through to the next obstacle? Yep, we’ve done it for centuries.

Should we have to? Absolutely not. Let’s move into this next year and the rest of our existence, adding to our strength the permission to unapologetically take care of ourselves first. A lesson that was interestingly taught to me throughout carrying this child. If I don’t take care of myself (rest, eat well, decompress) he can’t grow properly. The same can be said of the relationships in our respective communities. When we suffer it’s evident in the absence of our light in the dark times. It takes a lot to be “strong”, life is too short to try and keep that up daily. Let’s be better to ourselves.

Update: Since this was first posted we have lost Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, activist and new mother. We can’t put off self-care one more day. This sister carried the burden of fighting for the last and next generation and it proved to be too much to handle at once. Let her story be the last of its kind.

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