By: Jennifer Rogers
As a little black girl, there are few things instilled in us more than the necessity of strength. And the ability to prepare a home cooked meal, but that’s another topic for a another day. Our images are of the women before us who took on the load of their worlds, the burdens of their men, with the strength left to raise their babies. You must be strong.
We are taught about how we are not just black in this convoluted world, but also women. That double minority is carried with pride. It is an empowering realization for most of us and becomes a part of our purpose. We are black. We are women. We will be excellent. It isn’t what holds us back, it is what propels us forward. With that realization comes the activation of, you guessed it, STRENGTH.
Over the many years and the evolution of the black woman, society and our families have also been so kind as to lay out a plan of how to achieve success with that strength forever integrated. It is absolutely the mainstay that keeps a black woman’s head above water in a country where, the odds are not forever in our favor.
It is taught to us as early as elementary school. In order to be, to achieve the merriment, the peace, and the blissful happily ever afters, you must do this:
1. Attend and graduate from college
2. While you are in college, be a “good” girl. Watch that body count ladies! It affects your value and ability to marry well.
3. Get a career. Cause jobs are important. Shows you’re not lazy and can do smart stuff.
4. Marry. Men are everywhere. Just grab one up that’s fine, educated, has no kids and is hopefully not a man whore
5. Have the babies.
6. Live happily ever after.
7. Do this all while being a black woman in America.
And please, PLEASE knock all this out before your 30th birthday.So. What happens if you don’t? What happens if you reach 30, did college, have the career but are still not….married? Oh, the horror!This, ladies and gentlemen, is when it starts. Well. It technically starts a few years earlier, but 30 is where it is kicked into high gear.JUDGEMENT.
Never mind that you have followed every other step in the plan. Never mind that you have upheld the expectations of a strong, independent woman. You followed the plan they gave. But there has to be something wrong here, with YOU, because why are you alone?
The explanation is perfectly reasonable.
We are self-righteous.We have ridiculous standards.We don’t know how to be loved.We are tainted.We are mean.We are angry. Just Angry. Black. Women.
Well actually…That’s not quite correct. Sure, it’s easy to blame the woman, cause let’s be honest, it’s done pretty often.
However, I implore you to take a step back. ….consider this….we’re not angry.
As a woman, over 30, with a wide array of friends that are also in this boat, anger is the least of our troubles.
Ironically, what is taught to us as little black girls becomes interpreted as our greatest flaw as we transform into black women. Our strength becomes translated as anger.But why? Could it be that the world around us is starting to punk out? I would argue, yes
It is true that we are held to an ideal that is very valid and very relevant for 1963. In the present day, that doesn’t always work out. The world has changed. Collectively, we are attempting to adapt and modernize while upholding some of these traditional expectations. The marriage, the babies, the happily ever after is not so far away from our desires. At least, not for most of us….well, a lot of us. In the grand scheme of things, those traditions are still important to us. They are a part of who we are.
We, however, are not falling apart because we are not there yet. This life, this freedom ain’t exactly terrible. Additionally, that strength that has helped us not do the falling apart, is not synonymous to vicious and vile, bitter and difficult. On the contrary, it is the challenge to push our counterpart to be stronger.
In many circumstances, stepping up to the challenge (*whispers* men) is where the mark is being missed. (Let’s not read that as man bashing, guys. I love ya. I do.) Cause we are here. Over 30 and living this life. Experiencing all the punches, hits and misses right there alongside everyone else. Sure, we are thoughtful, have expectations, are imperfect, and yes, strong.
In real life, though, not a thing is wrong with that and not a bit of it makes us angry. We are just women, navigating this world, from a plan that has had to endure some extreme edits, on our way to our happily ever after…whatever that means.
And that is just fine.