• Paloma Martins

No hidden figures: refining the black woman narrative

Sometimes it is difficult, for us to pen our feelings vividly and wholeheartedly, so I hope my words meet you openly. Here, I will narrate from my point of view & experience as a black woman.

I believe that we were all born with a purpose. And for some, they spend majority of their life trying to figure it out or they sum it to one particular route. However, for the black woman the mission runs deeper. Over time we have been stereotyped, as the “crazy sassy” ones or the usually implored phrase “the angry black woman” when the only thing that we request for, is merely to be listened to. According to Dionne Bennett and Marcyliena Morgan this trajectory is less analysed opposed to the “mammy” and “jezebel” archetype because it has been accepted as true.

Consequent to this stereotype, the way I was raised and my strong personality, my biggest problem as a black woman has been within the net of romantic relationships.

I believe most guys, cannot handle an independent woman who is equally self-reliant. I have observed and internalized this, as if I was difficult to be with in a romantic relationship.

The guy’s reasons for breaking up were always similar and mirror phrases such as “You seem like you do not need me for anything” and questions of “Are you able to be submissive”.

Which endlessly surprises me, because the same guys started the whole thing by admiring who I am and then suddenly the reasons that made them interested, become the traits they dislike. But I have come to realise, that I am not alone in this boat. As the women around me, share dating stories and one statement which was concerning was “We do not last with a black woman because like you, they do not shut up, you will go for your rights till the last”, which insinuates that, we are single because we have a lot of personality and some men are not prepared to date a strong black woman.

This has made me question myself, as to whether my concerns were worth vocalising or keep to myself. And experience some unpleasurable moments in my life, but with the certainty that I am doing what I’m supposed to do. Or whether it would be easier to take the less strenuous path but in return lose a part of myself as a result of trying to conform into a model of what society expects from me. However, my spirit does not sit right with this ideology.

Being a black woman is a painful gift. We carry the history of our ancestors and somehow reproduce it. We are expected to be bold, intelligent, resilient believe me it is stressful for one individual to embody all of this but believe me its equally powerful. We are told to express ourselves and enhance our voices but our speech finishes, when somebody else’s speech starts. We are expected to be beautiful, but our beauty is societally barred once we have an opposing view that does not suit the majority. Then we are preyed on and unfortunately, what hurts sometimes is the long-lasting emotional pain and the low self-esteem which it accompanies.

Our strength sometimes threatens people, the unknown reason about our capacity to rise and piece together every broken part of us, is all part of this painful gift wrapped in black womanhood.

For the next generation, I hope the world stops seeing you simply as a “black woman” rather as the mother of humanity, soft, joy-filled, confident, and loving with the removal of struggle-stricken qualities.

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