I love being Black. I appreciate the expression, creativity, and resiliency that molds the Black experience. I love being a woman. My body, my curves, my features, make me feel confident in who I am. When you marry the two, a distinct set of expectations are construed. Recently there has been more of a push to encourage diverse representation in the media, but that does not negate the communal experiences that Black Women have navigated and continue to live through every day.
I am a pretty unbothered person. It took me a while to get here, but I’ve learned to focus on creating my roles and seeing the world (and myself in it) through lenses that are nurturing to me, instead of being strongly affected by how others see me.
I am empowered. It was not an easy journey, but I’ve learned that I define my experience and am untroubled by those who seek to define it for me. I’ve grown to not let other peoples’ actions, behaviors, or views of me control my narrative.
While I want to raise a self-assured daughter, it pains me to know that she will one day feel like she is seen (or understood) a certain way simply because she is a Black woman.
Historically, Black women have been cast into different “parts” and recognized (by society) for those roles, rather than for who we are and who we desire to be. We have been limited to Babymakers. Caretakers. Sexual Objects. Racism, colorism, and stereotypical thinking are embedded into society so that they are constructs we must unpack for the well-being of ourselves and our families. We have to empower ourselves and define our own experiences, against a world which seeks to define our journeys for us.
We are strong. In many cases, because we have to be. Everyone looks to us to shoulder the burden. It seems to me like this comes from all sides. Career-wise, in social interactions, and even among familial relationships. The expectation is, many times, fostered from youth by our families, communities, in images and representations we see around us, and exacerbated by institutional racism and policies in place.
Sometimes I feel drained. Sometimes I am overwhelmed. Yet, I put one foot in front of the other and continue on. I don’t really have an alternative. As a single mom, it is my responsibility to provide the best possible life for my daughter, to protect her and her peace, and to show her that the world is hers to explore.
I don’t want her to experience the same pressures and expectations that I face. But I know that to some extent she will. I want my daughter to feel cherished. Supported. Safe. I want her to know (and feel) that she deserves to be in all spaces, and that her voice (distinct, confident, and insightful) evokes change. Simultaneously, I want her to be comfortable in expressing her vulnerabilities.
I want her to know that she decides who she is and that she is not required to be a Strong Black Woman because society (and maybe even people she interacts with) expect so. That she has the space to be simply who she is, and need not shoulder burdens for other people. That the spectrum of her existence and her feelings are valuable, whether that be motivated, tired, excited, combative, helpful, kind, angry, or adventurous. She will be much more than a Strong Black Woman.
I am much more than a Strong Black Woman.
Black Women Are People, Too.
Society has determined that we are sexy, blunt, resilient, sassy and strong. I claim that I am vulnerable, expressive, creative, beautiful, forward-thinking, and empowered.
What qualifiers will my daughter adopt?
Yvonne is a Navy veteran turned full-time graduate student who just wanted a not-long-distance boyfriend. Such is life. She is a mama to the love of her life and lives in San Diego, CA, where she diagnoses baby poop, attempts to train her dog who hates other dogs, works part-time, and writes for her blog, Stunning Single Mama. If you’d like to check it out, you can do so here and follow her on Instagram!