Why I Don’t Want to Raise a Strong Black Woman

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 Payne

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!

14 Comments

  1. Cheyenne

    These are such inspiring words! I really love you emphasize that you want your daughter to know that she decides who she is and not these societal labels. Great work!

    1. Yvonne

      Cheyenne,

      Thank you, I really appreciate the feedback!

  2. Cristina Petrini

    Your words moved me because I think like you. There must not be differences not when we all have to be strong women regardless of our differences, which then what are they? We are women, we are human beings … we are sisters!

    1. Yvonne

      Cristina,

      Thank you for your response. I feel like in this day and age women typically are “strong,” (and that’s a good thing!) but as Black women we aren’t really allowed to be anything other than strong. Which is a disservice to us. Thank you for affirming us as human beings with your camaraderie!

  3. Vee - Designs By Vee

    👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Yas sista! This right here gave me life! This is brilliant and very much needed in today’s society. I relate to this post because I am too a strong black woman whose had to overcome a lot of stereotypes.

    We are more than our skin color! But sadly that’s all some will see. Although I don’t have any kids yet, this is too something I think about often when it comes to raising my future children. Good for you! Keep making positive steps in the right direction. Your daughter will admire you for it!

    1. Yvonne

      Vee,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m really glad that it resonated!

  4. Viano

    This is so true. We are more than our colour. We are more than our genders. We are more.

    1. Yvonne

      Viano,

      Thank you. Yes! I’m looking to affirm this regularly with myself and with my daughter.

  5. Tara Fuller

    Thank you for this. I 1000% agree the world categorizes Black women for what it wants them to be or assumes them to be rather than who they are. One day, this world will be a better place. The ignorant have already shown themselves this year in a variety of ways and CHANGE is happening!

    1. Yvonne

      Tara,

      Thank you so much for your response and your support. It is greatly appreciated! I don’t think true change will happen until people from various backgrounds empathize and take action towards equity! Thank you!

  6. Fulu

    I love this. There are so many things projected onto us and we are supposedly supposed to shoulder them to acknowledge our blackness. But I’m also one such person who cant be bothered. I’m human and I’m capable of anything a human can do. Be it falling apart of being strong. I define my own life.

    1. Yvonne

      Fulum

      Yes! ***clap, clap, clap*** I absolutely love “I’m capable of anything a human can do. Be it falling apart or being strong.” Thank you for the thoughtful response.

  7. Nadia

    Yes! I just wanna be myself, not just me as a color.

    1. Yvonne

      Nadia,

      Thank you for the response, I appreciate it!

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