Seven Poems to Celebrate the Death of the Strong Black Woman™ Trope
Many things make me weary — politics (I studied it for four years and will continue to study it in grad school, don’t ask me why), non-negotiable moral issues (no, Brad, eugenics really isn’t a “devil’s advocate” kind of discussion), and sometimes even fantasy books (N.K. Jemisin has a great bit about that here).
But one thing I’m especially weary of, is this belief that I have a limitless pool of strength, and that art pertaining to me and my culture must revolve around slave narratives, or Black pain. That I am a Strong Black Woman™ who keeps the world running through the renewable resource that is my melanin (Black does crack, by the way), and reruns of The Help.
Though I don’t take “strong” to be an offense, and could never dismiss the importance of ALL Black history, I have to be honest when I say that I’m tired of “strong” overuse — its overdose of expectations.
So please accept my humble list of uplifting and healing poetry — seven poems (and excerpts) to celebrate the end of the Strong Black Woman Trope.
1. “And” — Nicole Sealey
Favorite lines: clandestine landmines
2. “tell the black girls” — Lamont Lilly
Favorite lines: tell the black girls
how they were born
from a long tradition
of black woman dream merchants
3. “To Black Women” — Gwendolyn Brooks
Favorite lines: There have been tramplings. Tramplings
of monarchs and of other men.
But there remain large countries in your eyes.
4. “blessing the boats” — Lucille Clifton
Favorite lines: may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
5. “spill” — Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Favorite lines: the sky sings for us
the rainmaking women the rage-taking women
6. “Ego Tripping” — Nikki Giovanni
Favorite lines: For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son Hannibal an elephant
He gave me Rome for mother’s day
7. “i. Mood Indigo” — Ntozake Shange
Favorite lines: our house was filled with all kinda folks
our windows were not cement or steel
our doors opened like our daddy’s arms
held us safe & loved
Are there any other poems or songs you would have included?