Why do so many of us feel that the strong black woman archetype has harmed us? What’s so bad about assertiveness or resilience? We certainly need assertiveness in order to deal with this hostile society. Don’t believe me? Today I went into a convenient store to pick up some chocolate milk for my daughter. There was a tall man at the counter who seemed to take decades to purchase lottery tickets. While I waited, an older man walked into the store, looked at me and proceeded to cut right in front of me. He cared nothing about the fact that I was waiting patiently for my turn and that he needed to do the same. Before I tell you how I reacted, I want to vent that this is something I had to deal with all of my life. You see, I never had to deal with nonblacks clutching their bags when I walked by or blacks fearing my “strong black woman wrath.” I had to contantly prove that I was not so intimidated that I’d let people walk all over me. Being only five-feet will do that to a woman. My petite stature made me a target for bullies of all races. To this day, people try to intimidate me. Why aren’t I seen as a strong black woman not to be messed with? Like all other incidents, I took on the exhausting task of sticking up for myself. I immediately walked right up to the counter and nearly slammed the milk down. I was prepared to leave the milk on the counter and walk out of the store if the clerk didn’t wait on me first. To my surprise, he ignored the bully and placed his attention on me. What if I did not conjure up the strong black woman within me?
The strong black woman is also resilient. I think it’s extremely detrimental to scoff at women who take a licking and keep on ticking. Instead, we should be learning from them. Continuing to tick doesn’t mean that we should embrace all the punches that life throws at us. It means that we have developed the coping skills to keep living in spite of what we’ve been through. Black women have developed coping skills that makes us less likely to throw in the towel (suicide) than any other group in this country. So instead of rebuking the strong black woman, why not question why people of other races don’t have the coping skills that black women have?