Do Black women deserved to be known as Strong and Independent

Ok so instead of finishing up a paper I was goofing around on youtube (yeah I know big mistake). I came across several postings regarding black women’s claim to independence and how irritating that is for some men to hear. So I wanted to take time and examine how black women came to be known by the adjectives strong and independent. Please keep in mind these are just my own opinions (I am being lackdasicale and don’t feel up to really doing in depth research)

Circumstance 1. During slavery black women were raped repeatedly sometimes in front of their husbands as another means of dehumanizing the male and weakening the relationship between the black male and female.

Black Woman’s Response 1. The black woman in this situation endures the rape and continues with life, trying to placate an enraged husband who feels helpless and bound by his circumstances.

Circumstance 2. Post-civil war black men are now officially on the grind for a living wage. Black men are met with resistance to their new found freedom, hatred, bigotry, and the need to provide for their families like a man should.

Black Woman’s Response 2. Response to hatred provides the black male with the only respect that he is likely to receive.

Response to bigotry: black woman comforts husband and children provides emotional stability.

Circumstance 3.The break up of the Black family by the following:

A) Lynching an untold number of men lost their lives leaving women and children behind.
Black women: are now placed into the role of sole provider and care-giver
B) Crack cocaine (effected men and women equally) tore families up in the 80s. Grandmothers were left to raise grandchildren.
C) Massive incarceration of black men
Black women once again are left as sole providers and caregivers

This post is in no way meant to denigrate black men but an explanation of how black women have achieved and earned the adjectives of strong and independent. Note I will be doing a future post on women who claim they are independent but actually are not. Also a future post will be coming on the reunification of the black family unit.


Reader Comments

It's not easy being strong for everybody.

interesting post. I agree it took a lot of strength in those situations, for both men and women. My only issue is that someone living now isn't "strong" due to someone else's struggle. Yes people can learn from the past and gain lessons form other's struggles, but they do not get the direct mental "strength" of that atruggle as if they went through it themselves. So far this is looking intersting. I see the other installments.

@dewfish First Thanks for stopping by. Your statement has an interesting view point and to be honest not one that I have ever considered. However, IMO look at if from this viewpoint people do “inherit” certain traits and characteristics from family members and from those that share a common community. How often do people hear: you know so and so reminds me so much of so and so, or you do things just they way so and so used to. Again thanks for stopping by feel free to chime in anytime

yes, a person can inherit someone's smile or their sense of style, even their demeanor. But they cannot inherit experience. No matter how close you are to that person, you cannot experience what that other person experienced. You can empathize, you can relate, but you yourself do not become "stonger" secondhand.

@dewfish I am going to after disagree with you. My mother instilled in me a certain amount of steel that straightens my backbone. I did not personally witness everything that she has gone through but I did WITNESS the aftermath, just as she did her mother and so on. The way in which a person overcomes and moves on is a strength and these things are TAUGHT. And yes you do gain strength from those around you and before you. I as a black woman do not claim the ordeals or the trials of those before me as MY OWN. I do claim that those that experienced them shared there knowledge of perseverance to those that followed such as my mother and she then in turned shared that with me.

If you were living with or have daily contact with someone that is currently going through struggle, in that sort of way, you are sort of experiencing their struggle because you were there through the "bad times". You still didn't have the same experience they had directly, but since you are constant part of their lives during that time, I'm sure whatever situation they are in will affect you as well if you are there for them.

With that said, Do Black women deserved to be known as Strong and Independent? No. Individuals can claim strength and independence depending on what they have been through. You don't get credit or praise for obstacles you never had to overcome. If anything, the black people before us (both men and women) went through their struggles in hopes that we would never know what its like to go through what they went through.

Morning Dewfish I have a good scientific article that explains cultural heredity if you send me your email I can forward you the PDF file. It will explain how traits other than the physical are passed from generation to generation.

sure, i'll check this out. my email is

read it.

once again, there is nothing there that says that direct experience can be "passed down". You can teach someone skills and values and how to handle certain situations, but that is not direct experience. Someone is teaching you from their experience, but you did not experience it yourself.

as I said before, black ancestors passed down knowledge based on their experiences so that their children would never have to go through what they went through. They taught this knowledge so that younger generations would aviod these experiences altogether, not "claim" to have the same experience they had.

@Dewfish mmmm the article specifically states the following
“Cultural inheritance on the other hand, is based on transmission of information by teaching-learning process, which is in principle independent of biological parentage. Culture is transmitted by instruction and learning, by example and imitation, through books, newspapers, and radio, television and etc.”

“Culture is acquired by every person from parents, relatives, and neighbors, and from the whole human environment.”

“Cultural inheritance makes possible for people what no other organism can accomplish – the cumulative transmission of EXPERIENCE from generation to generation.”

These are some of the exact quotes from the pdf you read. I have never claimed experience as my own. YET this Scientific article says that this can be and is so.

So as far as claiming experiences of lynching’s, and the like no I have never experienced that but there are people in my family that did and they in turn according to that article can pass along their experiences to future generations. Those experiences yielded strength and yes I claim that, I don't believe everyone can or should but I do.

“as I said before, black ancestors passed down knowledge based on their experiences so that their children would never have to go through what they went through. They taught this knowledge so that younger generations would aviod these experiences altogether, not "claim" to have the same experience they had.”

This statement of yours is so true I would never want to experience what those before me went through. However, I said their experiences helped to shape our strength I don’t believe to have ever claimed their experience as my own, but their strength of will.

passing down knowledge of a culture is not direct experience. yes, they pass down their cultural values, traditions, etc. But their personal life experience is theirs and theirs alone. inheriting "culture" is not the same as direct experience.

If a teenager has never driven a car and wants to learn, they can read books. they can get advice from drivers about what to do and not to do. they can reseach the car they want to drive inside and out. they can watch videos taken from a first person perspective and it kinda feels like they are actually driving the car. they can know every fact and facet of driving. NONE of that is the same as actually being behind the wheel and driving yourself.

This claim is plain ridiculous. you can relate to others experiences, you can sympathize with experiences, but that is not the same as personal, firsthand experience.

Again dewfish you may want to take that up with the researchers that have placed this evidence out there. Your opinions are appreciated here nonetheless. Also I think you have latched onto the term of experience much as Hillary Clinton uses it. At no where in the original posting or the continued comments have I claimed that black women claim these experiences as their own. What I contend and will continue to do so is that black women have inherited strength of will from generation to generation which has been “shaped” through experiences.

there is no "evidence". I read the PDF. I read your references to the PDF. That is great if you want to experience "culture", but it is not personal, individual experience. None of the experiences you listed in the original post are examples of culture. They are personal, individual experiences. they are no where near the same thing.

As far as "strength of will from others experiences", it's a meaningless phrase. If I hear of someone else's struggle, I can sympathize with what they went through. I can appreciate the amount of will that they needed at the time to get through such adversity. But none of that improves my own personal will. It is just a recognition of theirs. you can become inspired and hope to be as "stong-willed" as them. You can even try harder in your own life to become more strong-willed. But they did not "pass" their strength of will down to you. You merely learned of what true will is and tried harder throughout your life to emulate it and apply it to your life.

There are self-made millionaires whose grandchildren are lazy and shiftless. Why didn't that "will to want to make something of yourself" get passed down to the grandchildren? I'm sure those grandchildren have heard many times just how great their grandparents were and how much they sacrificed to become something better. The reason why is because that "will" was a personal trait, which varies from person to person. you either learn what makes a strong-willed person and apply it to your own life or you don't.

Dewfish I think we should first start off with a working knowledge of the word culture below are two definitions:

“the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations”
”The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization.”
And unlike you said those experiences that you like to categorize as individual were perpetrated against and amongst a minority community. That community then because of those experiences were shaped and molded. Those same experiences (note this is what you like to call them) help to mold and shape the thought process and reactions for generations to come. One of those traits happens to be strength.

once again, culture, no matter how you define it, is not the same as direct, individual experience. they are totally different things. You can experience a culture, but simply experiencing that culture doesn't make you stronger or weaker mentally. Mental "strength" or "willpower" is a personal decision.

the actions listed were against black people in general, but the personal experiences of black people during those times varied.

If a black person was lynched, that individual was lynched, not "the whole community". if you are living in that community, you are affected in that you fear it may happen to you, you might feel sorry for the person it happened to, but you did not experience it directly. The black community didn't "shape or mold" anything out of this. the parents could warn their kids to be more careful or to be fearful of certain kinds of people, but none of that has anything to do with mental fortitude and strength. It's a warning, no more, no less. Fear of getting killed isn't the same as it actually happening, and it definitely doesn't give you more "willpower" or "mental strength".

If anything could be "passed down", it would be distrust of certain people, but that isn't "willpower" or "mental strength" either. these conclusions just don't add up.

to add to this, even if someone tried to pass this advice down to another generation, it is still up to the individual whether they want to follow that advice or not. some people will follow the advice and some people won't. It is definitely not something that you can say applies to all black women, because everybody has different experiences and is going to look at the situation differently. that alone disproves any notion that all of any type of people should be automatically seen as "strong" or "independent".

Morning Dewfish

“If a black person was lynched, that individual was lynched, not "the whole community".

I will continue to disagree because that community was affected by the lynching. You may continue to disagree with this point. However the fact remains during the times of lynching the black community was a close knit family of families.

“If anything could be "passed down", it would be distrust of certain people, but that isn't "willpower" or "mental strength”

You are confused if you believe that you can pass down one abstract quality and not the other. That reasoning in its self is bizarre I can pass down distrust (which is abstract) but not strength (which is also abstract), that appears to be a contradiction to your earlier statement.

“to add to this, even if someone tried to pass this advice down to another generation, it is still up to the individual whether they want to follow that advice or not. some people will follow the advice and some people won't. It is definitely not something that you can say applies to all black women,”

Dewfish this statement of yours is true some people will embrace traditions and other abstract qualities but not all. However I did not say that this applies to all black women. You may need to go back to the original post, because I distinctly remember writing that in a future post I would write about how some women claim they are strong and independent but are not.

I do believe that neither one of us is likely to convert the other to their way of thinking nor to I believe that you are trying. We have both stated our opinions and they sit squarely on opposites sides of the fence. Your opinions are welcomed here as I said before. But I would tell you again re-read the original post. You have latched onto a word that I never used in the original posting and decided to create an argument for (experience). Anyway, whether or not you choose to believe in the circumstances I listed in the original post, the fact is the more recent circumstances touch and affect the majority of black families.

Well, I know I am late to reply, but I have been watching your blog for about a month now. Anyway, I have to agree, with you and disagree strongly with Dewfish who seems to think that although lynchings happened in the black community that it in now way molded the psyche and behavior of black people, and black women in particular.

I imagine that living under that sort of mental duress one would do one would have to find a way to cope. Naturally, coping can evolve on many levels, an be viewed as strength.

Let,s take this one step further, and analyze current situations in which black women find themsleves. Whether self inflicted or not in a society that is very unforgiving to women of our skin color, we find oursleves living against the odds. We have to contend with far more then women from other demographics. We get it going an coming. We get hell from outside society, and unfortunately we catch hell from our own men. As my gramps used to say, we are at the very bottom of the totem pole, and truthfully, if other women had to deal with an iota of what we deal with they wouldn't survive.

@Anon thanks for stopping by. I think women in general especially women in developing countries all in their own rite have ordeals to overcome. My brother married a woman from Guatemala all I can say if I had to live in the conditions and duress that she lived who knows how my life would turned out. Thanks for commenting!

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