Focus on Self vs. Activism

It is no secret that I want the 'strong black woman' image to die a swift and permanent death. My feeling is that black women had to be strong in the face of our changing communities in the 80s. After Reaganomics, drug epidemics, HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, black-on-black crime, raising fatherless children, and the general burden of racism, we've evolved into women who are frequently separated from notions of femininity. (Just writing that sentence made me tired...whew!)

I want this image to die so we can fully step into our femininity. There's nothing wrong with being strong, but we are not allowed to be tired. Even bodybuilders have to take a break from their training programs and let their muscles recover. Black women are not allowed that same luxury. What did Atlas do after the world was no longer on his shoulders? What can we do, as black women, to give ourselves a breather from the worries that plague us day-in and day-out?

That topic is for another day and another post. In my mind, the strong black woman has now manifested two other phases of black womanhood: those who tirelessly and selflessly work to uplift the black community and those who blissfully ignore the struggle.

I remember pondering this question in college at FAMU. There were the race-conscious natural sistahs who immersed themselves in politics, activism and positive upliftment of the black community. When I think of the strong black woman, this is generally the image that comes to mind. The flip side of that coin are the 'glamour girls', the model-type chicks who pranced around those highest of seven hills in 3+ inch heels, fresh wraps and the latest fashion statements. As a young woman, I struggled to define where I fit into that continuum. I think I'm somewhere in the middle: I love shoes (but won't break the bank for them); I've been natural before and understand the politics of how black women wear their hair in the workplace, community, church etc. But it was when I stepped from behind an image, and stopped trying to fit into a mold, that I found you could be both at the same time.

Here are two examples:

Ms. Activist - Blaqueindigo
Her About Me: I am about revolution, cultivation, grow and change in our community locally and globally. "i dont want no peace. I need equal right and justice."-Peter Tosh

Ms. Glamour Girl - Lovher989
Her About Me: wasn't filled out, and she's only done a few videos. But her video is a great example of the mindset I'm discussing.

These two women are not allowed to be the same person. Blaqueindigo would be discounted as an activist, if she made videos discussing clothes, fashion and makeup; presumably, its ok for her to do loc vids because locing is seen as a form of freedom from the oppression of chemicals. But why couldn't she be an activist and wear her hear how she chose? If she is working to uplift black women and the black family, why can't she do both things at the same time?

And that is the root of the problem I have with the Strong Black Woman image - the strong black woman is not allowed to look inward and indulge in her own interests, because everything is about taking care of others. For alot of us, we practice our makeup, read celebrity news and scour the internet for great shoe bargains as our respite from having to carry so much. But as soon as you go from every day black woman to Activist, you aren't supposed to care about those trivial things anymore. Why? Who made that rule? Methinks it was a man...

Anyway, these two images frequently enter my mind. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ways that women can do both, or even if you think I've missed the mark on what these images mean.


OA said...

Fellow Rattler,

I hear you and I understand your confusion. I was once grappling with the same issues between being super-fabulous and super-conscious. Which side prevailed? Neither.

The problem with feeling like you must fit into a box will always exist because, as people, we are all unique. We fit in our own "boxes" that are free to change whenever we see fit. Unfortunately, you can't change and remain in one box. Changing creates the need for another one! So, how about ignoring the boxes and being who we really are instead of playing ready-made roles?

I went natural after FAMU to show how conscious I was but that alone exposed my lack of consciousness. Seven years later, I went natural again because I was tired of being a slave to my beautiful hair that was being ravished by chemicals and costing me more time and money to maintain than I desired to spend in lieu of living my life. For me, loving myself also meant accepting my hair texture for what it always was beneath the alterations and letting it be that without shame or criticism. That alone brought me so much freedom!

The key is to know thyself. However, that is a far cry from indulging or escaping. Wanting to be attractive and feminine should not be considered a trade-off for consciousness and helping others. Who cares what other people think your life should mean for you? They don't have to live it! Know who you are, follow the golden rule and stay positive! That's my 2cents and then some :)

Jordy said...

Google BlaqeIndigo Exposed...

and then see her reply on her channal

Prosechild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prosechild said...

Jordy, I'm not sure why you chose to comment on a post that is almost a year and a half old... when your comment has nothing to do with the point of my post.

But since you go there, why don't we talk about how alot of the African and black power leaders didn't choose black women at the end of the day... those same 'Caucasian devils' that they were fighting against were the same ones they became bonded in marriage to.

I won't view anyone's video to give any more views to something that has nothing to do with me and is negative. And for anyone that reads this after I close the comments, I suggest you focus on your own thoughts, dreams and goals, and not get wrapped up in someone causing drama.

Good day to you sir.