Dear StrongBlackWoman (SBW),
Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Walking around with a smile plastered on your face. Serving on every executive board, committee and team. The counselor, mother and preacher all in one. I know.
SBWs, you never have a vulnerable moment. No mess, no fuss. You never get to be the bitch, especially when someone really does deserve it. You must always be ready and near your phone, like a suicide line for someone to dump more of their mess on you. I know.
SBWs, this lifestyle WILL kill you softly. This is not to be mistaken for a phase in your life. Keep living like this and you will continuously run yourself into the ground. I'm here to give you permission to just say NO.
Fear of vulnerability and imperfection is real, but there are some things that can't be handled by yourself quietly where no one can see. There are some things you can't do, and everyone around you needs to understand that. We aren't robots, we aren't workhorses, we are human.
I'm not saying that you must drop every responsibility and person in your life for yourself, but selfishness is not always a bad quality to have. Every facet of life is about balance, especially when it comes to your mind, body, heart and money. You can give, give, give all you want, but soon there will be nothing left.
When I am honest about my time and emotions, I feel less stress and less resentment. I feel lighter. SBWs we have so many gifts and talents that we want to share with the world. Yet you must share those qualities with yourself before you can share them with anybody else. Confide in those you trust about your needs, wants and worries. Vulnerability is not a weakness.
Endangered Black Men (EBM)
Your commitment not to be an SBW means you will not accept an EBM into your love life. SBWs have a tendency to fall hard for them. During slavery, the myth of the SBW could only be sustained if black men were depicted as weaker or not as capable as them.
Let's get the facts straight, there are more black men in jail than in college, there are more of us than them, and many black men suffer from violence, imprisonment, drug abuse, and unemployment at rates that are disproportionately higher than their white counterparts. Yet, black women suffer a similar fate when it comes to disease, drug abuse, and domestic violence. As black women, we are so quick to play the numbers game of who has it worse than whom and end up falling in love with EBMs whom we have not one ounce of respect for.
Love and respect should co-exist. Fortunately, there are countless black men who thrive, take care of their families, and contribute to their communities and society at large. So why settle for less? Change your relationship vocabulary from "project" and "settle" to "partner" and "standards."
Don't buy into the world's perception that black men are less than what you need in a counterpart and don't get saddled up with someone who believes that too. Don't fall in love with a man's potential because you're not God and therefore cannot change anyone. All we can change is ourselves and who we allow into our life.
So sisters, have a hard conversation with yourself and God about who you are and what you can work on in yourself (i.e. shedding that SBW mentality). Then ask yourself, "Is this man, with all his faults (because we all have them), capable of making me happy right now? Does he have a serious work ethic, honor his parents, and respect the women around him?" If the answer is yes, then my sister THAT is not an EBM.
THE EMPRESS DECREE
Do not be an SBW. Be talented. Work hard on your craft. Give back to the world. Do not be an SBW. Be vulnerable with those you trust. Stay positive. Be unafraid to be your best. Know your weaknesses, because you have them. Do not be an SBW. Do not fall in love with potential. Be with someone you respect. Do not hang around women who don't respect men. Make God the main man in your life. Do not be an SBW. Say no. Don't say yes to everything. Let your limitations be known. Let your power be known. Do not be an SBW.
For more information on this topic, check out Joan Morgan's book, "When Chickenheads Come Home to Roast." This ferociously honest book probes the complex issues facing today's African-American women in a world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist men; "independent" women insist that men pick up the tab; and the ever-present baby mama drama reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than 40% of the African-American population.