I recently had a variety of experiences that prompted me to further examine the familiar space of superwoman: the pros, cons, etc…. particularly from the perspective of the Black woman. While this piece will resonate with all my fellow superwomen, but I wrote it specifically for my sistas. I’ve been writing and becoming more transparent about my childhood I my writing and speaking, and it’s become clear just how much this has played a role in forming me in every stage of my life.
- I get now how much my family believed in me and wanted me to succeed. I understand why they stood for me, even when I didn’t understand just how difficult the landscape was. I get why my cousin even told little fibs when bragging about me – because she loved me so much and knew that I had a bright future ahead of me.
- I understand the trap we get into, and how difficult it is to display vulnerability or appear “weak” when things get too much to bear.
- I get why we, like our counterparts in other races, are groomed to stand for others before ourselves, to take care of others even when we it means putting our own health and sanity at danger. I know that other women feel this stress, but I also know that it takes on a whole new meaning in the Black community.
- Watching Black Panther reinforced why we are so proud of our African roots. Learning that the all-woman army who were so fearless and powerful were modeled after the real-life Dahomey Warriors of the 1800s in Benin. I see why so many of us are strong, powerful and fearless. It’s in our DNA.
As Black women, we are also dealt with disrespect and overlooked. We watch and fight as our white male or female counterparts take roles that we know we are qualified to have. And yes, we get pissed off! Wouldn’t you? We have been called “ugly”, “monkey”, “too manly”, “angry Black woman”, and worse. And at the same time, because we are sometimes seen as exotic beauties to fulfill sex fantasies, it’s difficult to embrace our innate beauty and truly believe it. It’s heart breaking to see our brothers choose women of other races because they “don’t do black women anymore” because we’re “too difficult”.
Underneath it all, we are women! We are soft, and vulnerable, and we want and need love and support. Somehow that gets overlooked as people see the strength and even characterize it as scary or aggressive. We are complex. We are beautiful. We are multi-faceted and brilliant.
Don’t fear us – embrace us. Don’t fight us. Love us. Don’t compete with us – collaborate with us.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. We have legions of real life sheros as examples. Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Ida B Wells, Madame CJ Walker, Katherine Johnson (whose story was made famous in Hidden Figures), Mae Jemison, Florence Griffith Joyner, Misty Copeland, Hattie McDaniel, Whoppi Goldberg (the only Black woman to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Audrey Lourde, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou. Michelle Obama! The list goes on and on.
I recently attended an event screening the story of the Rape of Recy Taylor – a woman who endured unspeakable horrors at the hands of a group of white men in Alabama, and kept moving forward, being that strong black woman until her recent death. Her story is just one of the many. I’m glad it came to light to remind us of the unspoken history of this country. This, too, is part of our history. She is part of our struggle.
Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes acceptance speech was truly brilliant and highlighted why she deserves the success and accolades she has worked so hard for. Love her or not, she is doing it HER WAY. I’m proud of her.
The video of Danai Guiria accepting her award from Essence, and telling the story of when Susan Taylor told her she was beautiful as a nine-year-old kid in Senegal was balm to a weary soul.
As I learn more and more about my own journey to this point and life – and as I try to self-correct against working myself to death, and trying to prove myself to others – to who exactly? I am learning that all achievement is not exactly good…. that I am already enough… and that I am worth of love and support. I am learning to pump the brakes even when it doesn’t feel natural, and to say no to some opportunities that seem perfect, because I recognize the cost of saying yes while juggling an already over flowing plate. I am learning to do fun things, and to embrace days at home doing “nothing”, time spent coloring, or calling in for a mental health day. I am learning that I can get together with my girls just because – and it doesn’t have to be a big project or well-orchestrated event.
We are beautiful. We are powerful. We are black girl magic.
And we can be all that without destroying ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually.
Embrace these things: Balance. Grace. Love. Self-care. And above all – remember that YOU ARE ALREADY ENOUGH. Just as you are. You have nothing to prove. Not anymore.
Be well. Keep shining. Treat yourself like the queen you already are!
Photo from: https://screenrant.com/black-panther-dora-milaje-solo-movie-a-force/
- Black Superwoman Trap https://www.facebook.com/becausefacts/videos/209508169795897/
- Danai Guiria accepting her award from Essence MUST SEE! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dapygThJHrM
- Oprah Winfrey Golden Globe Acceptance speechhttp://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/oprah-winfreys-full-golden-globes-speech/story?id=52209577
- Dora Milaje is history brought to life (The Women’s Army in Black Panther). In the 1800s, there was an all-female army in modern-day Benin that pledged a similar loyalty to the throne. They were known as the Dahomey Warriors and were praised for their bravery and strength by local leaders and European colonizers alike who encountered them. https://face2faceafrica.com/article/the-legendary-dahomey-amazons-are-the-real-life-all-womens-army-in-black-panther
- Rape of Recy Taylor http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6116682/