The strong, independent, Black woman. She don’t need no man. She will put you in your place with her hands firmly planted on her hips and with coordinated eye rolls. She’s a workhorse that’s more interested in building a career and wealth than building a family. She’s cold, repressed and emotionally unavailable. She won’t coddle your feelings. She don’t need no one telling her about nothing because she knows it all already. That’s what they say/think about you and me. It’s a badge given to us, whether we are poor or rich, degreed up or not, married or single. The perception of the strong, independent, Black woman is not one that comes with praise and celebration of our resilience and fortitude, but one of condemnation and reproof. And perhaps what is most disheartening is that this criticism often comes at the hands of Black men. Bitter, male chauvinist, entitled, immature and misguided brothers. Yea, I said it. I can’t stand to hear a Black man talk down about Black women. It’s like a slap in the face.
I work in a male-dominated environment. I am the only one single, no kids, and has multiple degrees. My male colleagues call me “Black Girl Magic”, “Wakanda” and SIBW(strong, independent Black woman). So you see what type of bull ish I often come into contact with there. So, I am having a conversation with some Black male colleagues, and one, in particular, remarked that the reason “ I aint got no man” is because I am a SIBW. And by strong, he meant overly opinionated. More specifically “I don’t make a man, feel like a man” and that I gotta “stay in a woman’s place”. Now, if you know me then you know that I don’t let BS go uncheck. I had to press him out for it and ultimately he lost his inarticulated argument.
I understand, that it’s important for men to feel like men, and do macho stuff like chopping wood and building fences. If your manhood is predicated on how well you handle patriarchal gender roles, then fine, I will let you plow the fields with your bare hands. But don’t mistake my having a strong will and ability to get any task done as undermining your manhood. Just because I can take out my own trash and change my own tire, doesn’t negate the need for a man in my life. Black women have been holding it down since we were brought over on slaves ships. We were working in the fields alongside Black men and we’ve been working ever since. We never had the luxury to “stay in a woman’s place” because we were never considered fully human. Emotional support and mutual respect are more valued than your ability to drain the sink and pay my bills. Don’t misunderstand my having an opinion on matters has nagging. Respect my intelligence and wisdom and recognize my opinion is encased in love. As long as I have breath in my body, you will hear my voice. You will see my sass. And you will respect it. For if it wasn’t for “overly opinionated” women who didn’t stay in her place, there would be no Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Madame CJ Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Linda Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Cathy Hughes. The list goes on. We give you life. Our voices give voice to yours. So don’t ever try to silence us so that your rudimentary ego can stay intact because without us SIBW there would be no you.