As it always great to share out little platform, today we have an interesting look at the stereotyping of the “Strong Black Woman” by qualified lawyer and freelance writer Zaza. In a satirical look at some of the issues faced by independant black woman (especially due to alot of distorted media perceptions), Mat and I decided to get an inside look at the mind of a “SBW”
Ok. I’m cool. Whatever life throws at me I can handle. Because I, am a strong, independent black woman – Steve Smith (American Dad)
This comment is taken from an episode of the cult series American Dad and is made by nerdy, thirteen year old Steve Smith while delirious and wandering through the Saudi Arabian desert. Straight after that he shouts: “I mean white teenager!” Because he happens to be a white teenager. (View the scene on this link or at the top of the article)
American Dad is written by Seth McFarlane, who is white, and after that episode, I decided to mete my own particular brand of punishment and not watch the show ever again because I personally felt that that was a racist misconception and if American women weren’t going to stand up for the rights of black women the world over, then I, in my own stand against inequality, would not be subjected to racist white views that were untrue and, more than anything else, were recklessly aired for public viewing. This was pre-Juju, and I was still very proud of my view.
My campaign was verbose, focused, motivated and a roaring success as I didn’t watch the show for a full seven days. And not only because it wasn’t on, but because my convictions were so strong – Zaza
I then forgot about it while carrying on avidly watching, and a few months later, I was speaking to a black woman who highlighted her pride at being a strong black woman. Then I spoke to a friend who was very verbal about her strong black woman status; I switched on the TV and Maya on Girlfriends was talking about Joan being a strong black woman. Then one summer’s eve one of my sisters expressed her absolute joy at being a strong, black woman.
Then I, in the midst of a conversation, shouted out, loud and proud: “I am a strong, black woman!”
The utter shame at that moment led to the period known to my friends as the Era of Silence, which resulted in my self-imposed longest period remaining silent of a full day. Twenty-four hours.
Let’s not get it twisted; I am a black woman; I am, as are my many fabulous sisters, strong. I pay for my own car, petrol, phone and when on a date, I’m not afraid to pull out my wallet and contribute my share because I know that men, although providers, are also not an incessant source of funds.
What Steve Smith made me realise, and the main reason I am wary of the SBW, is that it has become clichéd and indicative of a black woman attempting to make excuses for a slave mentality, and usually relates to the single, struggling and broke.
The strong, black woman has become typecast as the woman who needs to be rescued, knows it, and is so bitter about people who seemingly have it better that the SBW cloak has become a coat of arms that has an arrogant disregard for the happily-married or relationship-bound woman who may or may not have the support of a man.
She utters the sentences, “I can’t compare myself to so-and-so because she has a husband supporting her”; “X can go out because she has a man who helps her out”; “I don’t respect so-and-so because she’s not making her own way”; “Blah blahblah… and so forth and so forth…”. Bottom line is it doesn’t matter. We are all dealt different lives.
I don’t have anything against the idea of the strong black woman; I just don’t understand why we have to use it like a shroud that gets used to make ourselves feel important and worthy. When Steve Smith brought it up, it merely highlighted the fact that we have felt we need to have it labelled, and the moment you need something labelled, it becomes diminished. White women don’t feel that they need to announce that they are strong white women, which a lot of them are, and some are not. We are all aware of the plight of the black woman; any time there is a disadvantaged group, we are disadvantaged threefold based on our race, our being Africans, and our gender.
But we have, for a long time, failed to be aware of the fact that we have also made such strides that we do not need to be classified as strong; black or women. We are simply women. That has been established by the likes of Winnie Mandela, Abigail Kubheka, Dorothy Masuku, Miriam Makeba, WendyLuhabe.And any time we diminish our standing by not being happy for any woman that succeeds, regardless of race, we stereotype ourselves back to bitter throwbacks with an axe to grind.
That is not what the likes of the women above fought tooth and nail for. To steal the words of the great Jay-Z (not Msholozi!), they crawled, so we could walk, and we must walk, so our daughters can run.
Zaza aka Zandile Xulu is qualified Lawyer with a Degree from UKZN. She currently works as a Junior Legal Advisor and has a passion for creative writing, music and the arts. Hopefully, we’ll have more stuff from her in the future. Thanks Z 🙂
That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Simphiwe Xulu aka @Mr_MediaX on Twitter.