“A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.” –
I was having a conversation with my auntie a few days ago, in which we were talking about the women in our family and the things that they have had to go through. She talked about how proud she was to come from such a family, and to be, as she proclaimed being, a strong black woman. Though not a foreign and accepted phrase to come from black women or about black women, I just felt uneasy about it for the first time.
I wondered if it was because of the most recent events concerning black lives. Actually, the constant events concerning black lives, which for some reason automatically are associated with black men´s lives. Or whether it was because I had been, and am, writing about the digital empowerment of women/ black women and the oppression we face across the different social spheres.
For whatever reason, I found myself not able to swallow the phrase, not able to identify with it or embrace it anymore. Instead, I felt anger, frustration, uneasiness and my spirit and soul rejected it.
A strong black woman?! What if I am not? What does it even mean; a high tolerance for societies bullshit against me and my kind? At what expense? Am I still human?
With the rise of the hashtag #sayhername, it just became clear that this idea mostly functioned as an excuse to make the lives and the suffering of black women invisible and unimportant. Because after all, aren´t we strong, longsuffering, overcoming and always accommodating black women? Once I realized that, that was the reason my body detested the phrase, my body felt like throwing it up, because I could see it for what it allows.
These expectations are ridiculous at the very least and at best, harmful, for the physical and mental wellbeing of black women. The weird thing is also that we are expected to be strong, take our suffering and do it all with a humble and a happy face, because god forbid you become an angry black woman. I just can´t anymore.
Why does the world expect black women to be strong yet no one has time to ask why we HAVE to be strong? Why we HAVE to be longsuffering and so eager to fight against everyone´s suffering accept our own? From the little young girls with too much responsibilities, to the grown young adults with even more responsibilities and finally, even old age is spent taking care and worrying about all this never ending responsibility. How long though? When do we get to be free and carefree even? When?
I am supposed to work harder than a white woman, harder than a male, yet remain subtle and soft. I am supposed to support my family and my community unconditionally and still have all my ish together without showing a single sign of weakness. The weakness that is perceived, when I seek professional help, when I need a break, when I can´t keep on keeping on, when I develop a disorder. The weakness that is perceived when I can´t be a strong black woman. This is not right and it is not fair and it does not nor will it, sit well within me.
Who is watching out for the black woman, for the little black girl? Who is watching out for her, for all of us? How have we become invisible? We have been wearing this phrase as a badge or crown for so long, but I think it is made out of thorns and a crown if it hurts us, might not be worth wearing at all.
I love my people, but I must love my sisters even more, because their suffering is my suffering too and it is that which I seek to understand and heal foremost. We must always be our sisters-keepers, because who else will do it, if not us? If not you and I?
Stay well, nurture your soul sister because you deserve to and don´t be a stranger,
from one sister to another.