Here’s something I wanted to talk about every time a movie comes out that shows us an “empowered” White girl and says how she’s some sort of role model for all women because she shows that women don’t have to be fragile or delicate.
As much as I loved Brave and despised Snow White and the Huntsman, people saying this sort of thing really, really irritates me.
Know why it irritates me? Because so many women don’t get to be seen as fragile, delicate, or vulnerable. Most of these women are women who look like me.
The Strong Black Woman is practically a trope, one that presents Black girls and women as being
superhuman subhuman “rhino-hided she-beasts” (witchsistah) who can bear physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial burdens far greater than those “normal” or “real” women would put up with. Abuse? Rape? Poverty? Racism? Sexism? Trauma? No problem. The Strong Black Woman can take it and keep being her sassy, fabulous self like it didn’t mean nothing (Does that sound familiar, True Blood fandom?).
Black women don’t get to be princesses. We are never damsels. And we most certainly do not have people lining up to take care of us or help us even when we need it most. We’re not strong because we choose to be. We’re strong because we have to be. For us to acknowledge our own vulnerability, to confront our own pain and fear and grief, to allow ourselves to be finite and human, is apparently forbidden.
I say forbidden, and that’s exactly what I mean. See, if we complain about the bad shit that gets heaped on us (and often because we’re “so strong”), we’re whining and need to suck it up (see: Tara Thornton). Apparently, we are stronger than Atlas, since it seems that the world will fall to pieces if we stop holding it up for everybody to benefit but us.