TEARS NEVER FALL from your eyes. You are the shoulder that others cry on. You do not feel pain. You never sleep in. You barely need sleep at all — no more than four hours. You rarely bleed, and, when you do, it is only a few drops — a panty liner, not a full pad. Compared to other women, with their “vulnerability and emotional outbursts,” you are so strong. 

Every time American life knocks you down with sexism, racism, glass ceilings, domestic violence, homophobia, and economic injustice, you rise again, only stronger! You got into the best universities by sheer will and determination, not because you knew anyone or had a helping hand or a trust fund. You broke into your industry by networking and “playing the game.” You now play said game better than others because of your strategies and long-term plans. Look at you! You are so strong.  

Car broke down? You wield a wrench, jack, and spark plugs — in heels. Got fibroids? You’re in surgery on Monday and back to the boardroom on Tuesday — in heels. You don’t need luck, assistance, pats on the back, nor words of encouragement because you work harder, longer, better, smarter, and earlier than everyone else. In heels. And that’s just to break even — but no worries, because “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” remember?  

You do not need painkillers. You do not need therapy, anti-depressants, mental health days, or spa days. You do need Jesus though, because you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” you. You relegate your worship to Sunday mornings because Monday through Saturday you are busy getting your hair washed and styled, your nails wrapped in gel, your wardrobe tailored to your perfect bust and hips, working 70-hour weeks, rearing your children without a nanny, keeping your spouse happy with meals and a clean house and lingerie, taking your mother to her doctor’s appointments, and staying on top of her blood pressure readings. You are able to shoulder a lot of “weight” because of your strength, remember. You are so strong. 

You are “bold,” “feisty,” and “sassy.” When you’re young they call you Black Girl Magic. When you’re old, they call you Big Mama. Do you know who you are? You are THE STRONG BLACK WOMAN! Your talents are legendary! Your skills are celebrated! For you are a socially-generated, culturally-upheld myth.  

You are so strong that, one day, you may self-destruct. 

But come on down and accept your prize — The American Strength Cup. It comes with a lifetime supply of notoriety and the coveted title of “strong.” Take the stage. Strut your stuff. Glide. Smile. Shine. Congratulations, queen. You’ve earned it. Your country is so proud of you, for you are as strong as they come.  

 

Tamika Thompson is a writer, producer, and journalist. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and is at work on her first novel.