Welcome to Musings of a (Recovering) Strong Black Woman by Rhonda J. Smith
Thanks for stopping by my blog. This is an open forum. I want dialogue. I do, however, reserve the right to withhold comments that I deem offensive to my readers and those that don’t serve to spur healthy dialogue. I hope you enjoy!
Why This Blog?
One reason stated three ways:
This is a call to aged women, 40-, 30- and 20-something women, teenage women, black women who have misunderstood what it truly means to be a strong black woman.
To the women who think hoochie is cute, flippant is flattering and the one who seeks it all without hearing the call from God to make a move.
This is a call to the women who’ve bought into the myth of the strong black woman, who’ve taken her strength to oppress others as the social structure has oppressed her.
This is a call to the women who’ve allowed media and other forms of exploitation to define her living among the survival of the fittest.
And, this is a call to women who know what it means to be strong, black, woman and Christian and can help turn the tide from the gutters to which many are headed.
This, my sisters, is a call for all who seek healing from within to deal with powers from without.
This, my sisters, is for you.
I have struggled over the years to define what being a strong black woman (SBW) truly means. I saw my mom influence my dad to do what he did not want to do. I read about activist Angela Y. Davis choosing a political party despite it being un-American. And I heard of countless others who made their way in a white, male-dominated society to achieve. Many times I also noticed that these strong women were at odds with men. It seems the men couldn’t handle their strength and would fight, physically, emotionally and financially, to keep them down. As a result, the women formed bonds among each other within church, sororities and other groups. Some even became lovers. Seeing this strength scared me. I wanted to self-actualize, but I realized that doing so could alienate me from the man I loved. I knew I wasn’t a lesbian, so I saw my options as slim.
More recently I have seen a younger generation embracing what has been defined as an SBW. “Mrs. Smith, the women in my family are strong. We have always been that way. That’s what I see. Even when they have husbands they run everything. This is what I know,” one of my young college students confessed after sharing with me her struggle to be a submissive wife. Another, in her late teens, considered having an abortion so she could pass the semester without being sick. Her friend told her, “Girl, you better get up on that table. I’m about to do it again tomorrow.” Her aunt, by hitting the young woman in the stomach, tried to induce an abortion because “you have just started to get your life together. You shouldn’t have a baby now.” This “new strength” scares me, too. My students are following what they see, and they also profess Christianity.
We have four generations—my mom and Davis’s, my students’ foremothers’, mine and my students’—who have embraced definitions of strength that have put us at odds with men and have caused us to alter the natural functions of our bodies. We have done this in the name of self-actualization, becoming who we were meant to be or who we believe we were meant to be. We have done what we believe is best for us. So, historically, the strong black woman has defined her path, challenged the status quo and has done what she believes needs to be done to meet her goals. Defending herself has been a priority. As one sister said: “Being a strong black woman is being able to overcome obstacles, not allowing certain circumstances to stop her from moving forward.” This fact, however, had me at a crossroads: How can I, a Christian black woman who has embraced four generations of self-definition for self-actualization, move forward in the name of God? I know that being a Christian should be the foremost consideration when making decisions, but how do I reconcile that with the other aspects of who I am? Do I assert my natural human rights? Do I demand equality for women? Can I choose what I believe is right for my body? This is what we explore at Musings of a (Recovering) Strong Black Woman.
Scripturally: “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women; for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. –Isaiah 32:9-10