From A “Strong Black Woman Who Don’t Need No Man”

The other day I was happily chatting with a guy who I had been talking to for weeks, when he decided to blurt out that he didn’t think we could end up as more than friends. Not particularly troubled, since I really wasn’t checking for him anyway, I asked why. His response? I saw your resume on your website. I had to end the conversation there, because even though I had so many questions, the sheer ignorance of his statement prompted an automatic desire to laugh in his face and I didn’t want to be rude. I know I’m not the only woman out there whose ambition has been a direct turn off to prospective dates and boyfriends, apparently a lot of guys can’t handle it, but my question is why? What does my resume have to do with how I handle my love life? It’s 2014 why can’t I be ambitious and attractive?

For most women who are like this, you ended up with the label of being a “strong Black woman who don’t need no man”, but let’s be real you want one, and you’re entitled to that desire.  So you start browsing and you end up finding the one who sags his pants, one who doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re, and the other one who thinks every word out of your mouth is  a theory on feminist practices. Needless to say, you’re over it! You want to give up because it seems like these men just aren’t cutting it, but then you second guess yourself, consider that maybe your standards are too high. Stop it, stop right now.

Being a “Strong Black Woman” is not the same thing as being an “Angry Black Woman”, although society seems to make them synonymous. Your intelligence, your ambition, your accomplishments are a gift that you should embrace and celebrate. You will have moments where you will want to down play them or hide them, in an effort to seem more attractive. DON’T. Once you get involved with a man are you going to continue to downplay it; what kind of relationship are you trying to sustain? You would think that the man who is the least accepting of your ambition is the guy who isn’t as ambitious as you, but beware of the trap. Those Black men who make you swoon with their suit and tie, NAACP membership card, and claims of consciousness, will be the first men to step away once they recognize just how ambitious you are. These men seem like the dream, forward thinking, and looking for a strong Black woman. The pattern I’ve come to see is that he really wants a woman smart enough to hold a conversation and support his movement, but not threaten his masculinity with their own ambition. Want some examples? Read up on the relationships of some of those Civil Rights leaders, Garvey might be a good start.

I say all of this to say that being a “Strong Black Woman” is not easy and when it comes to relationships it can be even more difficult, but the difficulty stems from a societal perception that when you are a Black woman focused on her career or her goals, you don’t have time, space, or the capacity for love. This is so very wrong and if you’re a “Strong Black Woman”, don’t convince yourself that it is true. We are not all Taraji from Think Like A Man , we aren’t waiting for a man to show us how hardened ambition has made us. For any man who thinks otherwise this is my eternal mantra:

 I love what I do. I will never stop doing it so that you can feel secure. I am here because I want to build something with you and when I come to the table I leave all of my work where it belongs. Do not mistake my strength for an inability to be vulnerable. I know how to take the backseat in this partnership. I can compromise, but I won’t concede. I will give this all that I’ve got. I will support you in everything you pursue and you will support me too. I am not here to compete with you, I want us to build each other up. 

Black women should not be afraid to choose either success or love. They should be empowered to understand that these two things can very well go hand in hand. Love me, love my ambition, and embrace what I will bring to the table. If you are intimidated by my resume, you weren’t ready for me anyway.

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