The term “strong Black woman” has always perpetuated a dangerous stereotype that often leave us without protection or consideration. But now, Black women are using various social media apps—specifically TikTok—to dispel this notion by explaining that when we’re viewed as strong, it doesn’t leave room for us to experience or express other emotions.
One user, @ireegyal, said that she has no interest in the label and how phrases like “strong white woman,“strong Chinese woman” and “strong Indian woman” are non-existent. Another user, @brenttanye, said she respected Black women who liked to be called strong but the word should be applied to the individual and not an entire group of people.
This conversation is a complex one, with @frilancy pointing out that the myth of Black women constantly being tough is so pervasive that therapy is often frowned upon. This often leads to our depression going undiagnosed. In addition, Black women are more likely to experience medical discrimination that their white peers when it comes to complaints of pain.
In other words, we are seen as able to tolerate higher amounts of pain by health care providers—and the strong Black woman myth plays a huge role in this. However, it wasn’t just Black women sounding off on TikTok about this topic. White women have taken to the app to explain their perspective as well.
One in particular, @jsed33, explained that Black women threaten white women’s livelihood by the way we embrace our culture, our history and our uniqueness. She also noted that Black women’s tendency to “rock the boat” contradicts the pressure white women face to stay quiet, not to question anything and appease people with a passive demeanor.
This conversation is an important one that needs more space to be explored and treated with the sensitivity that it deserves. Black women are more than labor mules and sources of strength—we are human beings deserving of warmth and care as well.