2009-03-28

The Myth Of The Strong Black Woman



In my post on Tyra and racial stereotypes, I received a couple of comments on the show, not in regards to some of the negative stereotypes, but in regards to a black woman who vented her anger and frustration. I saw this on another blog that discussed the topic as well. The black woman in question was crying because she felt unloved and unwanted by ALL races of men. She felt that since she was a black woman, she was victim to stereotypes of black women being loud, obnoxious, uneducated, and on welfare. She also felt her dark skin made her feel undesirable as well. Now note, she was in a room with a bunch of different races of people, all of them discussing race relations and stereotypes. A couple of people in there, were saying some really negative things, and I think it took a toll on her.

People seem to be embarrassed she actually cried, and vented her frustration. I can relate to her frustration, growing up as a kid, I felt the same way many a time. Would I have cried about it? Probably not, because I was always raised to suck it up and get over it. I think black women are expected to internalize every single thing, contributing to the stereotype of "strong black woman". To cry is to show weakness, and a black woman it seems, cannot show their weakness and vulnerabilities, especially on national television. It also seems that black women are supposedly full of confidence and self love, and sometimes I wonder why we are automatically expected to all have this high self esteem? Especially when I think many black women can relate to her, and have all had those moments of weakness where we might have felt less than others, due to our own insecurities and how it appears society perceives black women. Of course in black women law, we aren't supposed to be insecure. We are supposed to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, and even when we need therapy or help of any kind, and actually attempt to reach out for it, it is considered a sign of weakness.

I see white women on television crying about being frustrated about fitting into American beauty ideals and weight expectations quite often, and usually when they vent their frustration, it is treated with empathy and compassion. When a black women does the same thing, it is dismissed as embarrassing, and as Tyra proved, her anger and frustration is glossed over and treated as trivial, and due to her own fault, because she felt the black woman was just simply choosing the wrong men. It seems that black women are falling victim to our own stereotypes, and we are chastising those who choose to vent their anger and frustration publicly.

What is most poignant to me, is no one was embarrassed of the other black woman, who was quick to stereotype black men as thieves, then say that interracial relationships between white men and black women are wonderful, but black men dating white women was a sign of self hatred. I found her and her negative stereotypes of middle eastern people and black men more embarrassing, because I felt she should have known better as a black woman to go around grouping and lumping people so callously.

******While googling, I found this excellent article about this topic.******