“You never really know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. But I believe we must be careful what we designate as “strength.”
Google defines strength as: “The quality or state of being physically strong. The capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.”
But wait…before I get too deep into this, let me just say…THE OPINIONS STATED IN THIS PIECE DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF URBANE MAGAZINE. This is all NishaSpeaks! LOL Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
So, the ABC Network has released a six-episode series called “Women of the Movement” that premiered on January 6, 2022. The series centers on Mamie Till-Mobley, a mother who devoted her life to seeking justice for her murdered son, Emmett Till. When I saw the preview trailer on Facebook, I was immediately triggered. “Here we go again,” was my thought, “profit off the trauma of Black folks.” I was honestly in awe of the gall of the network. So, I did my research and saw that quite a few big-name Black entertainers and executives were backing this project. Also, the directors touted this series as an example of the amazing strength of Black women in the face of tragedy, highlighting the critical role Black women played in the African American struggle for civil rights. That got me thinking…IS there another option for Black women when being strong is all you’re allowed or expected to be?
Black women have endured hundreds of years of disrespect and violence. I’m talking, some of the most horrific acts that a person can witness and experience, and generally speaking, we still find the strength to move forward. But this article isn’t about that part of a Black woman’s strength, but rather the effects of that strength on a Black woman.
Black women’s “strength” often doesn’t come from the healthiest of places, doesn’t serve the most conducive purposes, and most times is attached to unresolved pains. Unfortunately, it has been passed down to generations of Black women. It paralyzes us and bogs us down. It steals from us and takes away the ability to allow…to let go in so many areas of our lives. It is so deeply ingrained in our being that sometimes we don’t even recognize when there IS another choice on the table. And that is the most devastating part of this; I dare call it a phenomenon, the “strength” of a Black woman.
I guess the “Women of the Movement” series triggered me because it seems the attribute of “strength” is always the only option, in some cases, for Black women. In my opinion, it further encourages the idea that all Black women are naturally and automatically strong when in truth, we sometimes just don’t have a choice. We do possess the attribute of strength, as do all humans, but not always because we want to.
In doing a bit a self-reflecting, I’ve found it difficult to just BE. To be soft…vulnerable…feminine…a woman because all I know is being strong. I have not been afforded the opportunity of just being. So many women agree with this sentiment and sadly have said they don’t know how to just BE.
So, if the series’ directors are calling “strength,” standing still, fighting the body’s innate urge to move – to not even blink – as to not draw attention to yourself while your husband…the father of your children…your child…are hanging on the limb of a tree by their necks…then have to proceed with life as though nothing happened…yeah, Nah.
To me…that is not strength. That is a space someone is forced to occupy. Now, a Black woman’s ability to make it look easy? Yeah, that’s a-whole-nother conversation!