Author Archives: Janice Fuller-Roberts

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Can We PLEASE Redefine the Strong Black Woman?

Sisters, we really need to redefine what it means to be a Strong Black Woman.

Listen.

I long for the day when a Black woman’s strength isn’t only measured by how much mistreatment she can endure. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget that you’re only human: fallible, vulnerable, and capable of feeling pain.

I’d love for people to recognize the strength it takes to be vulnerable and ask for help. It isn’t easy to let your guard down and bare your soul. It’s hard to be open and raw and deeply honest about who you are or how you feel. To do so takes real guts.

I want to redefine the Strong Black Woman image to include not just our resiliency in the face of oppression, but also our beauty when we’re broken and our joy when we’re ecstatic. I want it to include the full range of what it means to be human. We’re as complex and confusing and confounding as anyone else, and should be allowed to be our full selves without being considered “weak”.

The image of the Strong Black Woman as society’s “mule” persists, most certainly because it serves both white supremacy and the patriarchy to do so. But it persists also because we, as Black women, allow it to.

Consider the way we praise the long-suffering Black girlfriend who puts up with her man’s cheating, beating, or whatever, only to finally “get the ring” years later when the guy finally settles down and proposes.  This sister is celebrated, by men and women alike, as “strong” and “loyal” and “deserving”.

I call bullshit.

She was “deserving” before she spent the best years of her life waiting for that man-child to grow up. She would have still been “strong” had she kicked him to the curb, even if it meant being alone. “Loyalty” in the face of mistreatment isn’t commendable, it’s just sad. And we need to recognize that a woman’s strength has nothing to do with her ability to endure heartache from her romantic relationships.

Further proof of how this unhealthy notion of the Strong Black Woman is so deeply entrenched in our culture is how medical professionals treat us compared to how they treat white women. For example, studies have shown that in the U.S., Black women are prescribed opioid painkillers far less often than our white counterparts. On the one hand, this has resulted in fewer opioid overdoses among Black women than have occurred among white women. On the other hand, this also proves that Black women are expected to be able to endure more pain.

And it goes beyond pain management, too. I mean, don’t even get me started on the ridiculously high Black maternal mortality rate in the United States. But that’s a topic for another day. The bottom line is that this outdated, misogynistic notion of the Strong Black Woman is literally killing us!

When you’re seen as impervious to pain and abuse, you’re easy to hurt and abuse. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget you’re still human. And it’s easy to ignore your humanity because they think you can take it.

Sure, we can take it. Black women can take whatever life dishes out, and look damned good doing it, too. After all, we embody Black Girl Magic in spite of our oppression. We continue to show up and show out for the people we love; we run successful businesses and build empires; we’re the backbone of our places of worship; we enrich our culture with our art and talent; we dominate sports that a few decades ago were completely closed off to us; we serve our communities from the grassroots to the military to elected office; and we change the world with our scientific and technological genius.

In spite of everything thrown at us, we rise, we conquer, and we flourish! So yeah, Black women can take it.

But we shouldn’t always have to.

#NotYourMuleAnymore #StrongButHuman #BelieveBlackWomen #RespectBlackWomen#ListenToBlackWomen

Photo: Pixabay

Monday Motivation by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters,

In this life, you will experience defeat, but you won’t always be defeated. Every heartbreak, setback, or failure may bring you low, but trust and believe, you won’t stay down forever.

Pain is temporary, and victory is imminent!

Read that again.

Remember those words. Write them down if you have to. Repeat them to yourself whenever you feel sadness, fear, or doubt.

And when you’re having a bad day, week, month, or even year, remember to dig deep within and tap into that all that strength and resilience that got you to this point. Then pick yourself up, shake yourself off, adjust your crown and go build your world!

You got this!
#LoveYourselfFirst

Relationship Goals by Sophia Ned-James

Don’t let all these online images of “perfect’ couples fool you, Sis. There are no “perfect” couples! That’s because couples are people, and people aren’t perfect! You only get to see the good times on social media, the happy times people choose to share. You don’t see the hard work and the messy arguments. You don’t get to witness those long, awkward silences that occur in ALL relationships.

They’re not showing you the fights about bills and money. No one’s posting or sharing pictures of the unanswered texts, the ignored calls, or the insecurities that make them doubt themselves. All relationships have tough moments, but you don’t see them because we don’t share them.

So, judge your relationship on it’s own merits and stop looking for perfection. Stop seeing #RelationshipGoals whenever you see pictures or video of that seemingly “perfect” couple. Comparing your relationship to some celebrity couple’s fabulous public display of love and romance will always leave you feeling wanting. And holding your guy to some ridiculous standards established by some jet-setting media “influencer” will always leave your guy looking unnecessarily lacking, when in reality, your guy is absolutely wonderful to you and for you.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship that’s built on love, respect, and friendship, and you’re truly getting all that you deserve and desire, then you’ve already achieved #RelationshipGoals. After all, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for July 14, 2019

“Shhh …”

Black girls and women are too often silenced in today’s world. Either we’re too loud, too aggressive, or we have too much attitude. Some folks even begrudge us our happiness, complaining that we’re laughing too loud in public.

Throughout our lives, so many people “police” our tone and our words: from our elders who shush us when, as little girls, we try to talk about being abused; to some of our own men whose fragile egos seek to stifle our voices and dim our lights for fear we’ll outshine them. And don’t even get me started on the many public forces that seek to silence us or render us invisible! 

How many times have you been told to “calm down” when you stood up for yourself? How many times have you been told that your attitude is the reason you didn’t get that raise or promotion? How many times have you tried to shrink yourself into a space that didn’t really fit you or welcome you?
Well I say stop letting others silence you! Stop allowing others to police your tone or dull your shine! Keep speaking up … in fact, speak LOUDER! Don’t apologize for being who you are, because you are worthy of respect, attention, and all that is good and positive!

Distance yourself from people who can’t handle ALL 100% of you. Remove yourself from spaces that won’t allow your to flourish and shine and grow. Rid yourself of ANY circumstance that doesn’t see or serve you in all your infinite glory!
Always be YOU and do YOU, because you are enough, just as you are. And you DESERVE TO BE HEARD!
~Artist is unknown and I don’t own the rights to this artwork

 

THURSDAY THOUGHTS from Sophia Ned-James


RADICAL SELF-ACCEPTANCE!  
When you radically accept who you are, in this moment, it’s easier to engage in radical self-care. And self-care is important so that you do more than just survive, you THRIVE! It isn’t selfish to occasionally put your own needs and desires ahead of everyone else’s. In order for you to be the best YOU for your loved ones, you have to first be the best YOU for yourself.

 

5 Ways To Do Better By Black Women by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters!

We all know that #BlackGirlMagic is real because we live it, breathe it, and manifest it every single day. We’re out here making strides and building legacies. We’re thriving and breaking down the same barriers that held our foremothers back for centuries.

Yet somehow, we Black women are still perhaps the most maligned, abused, and mistreated demographic in the world! We’re woefully underpaid and overworked. We’re constantly underestimated. We’re always expected to take whatever’s offered and do more with less. And on top of all that, we’re expected take care of every-damn-body.

Listen. It’s time to turn things around and change the narrative. We deserve better, so we must demand better. As the saying goes, we teach people how to treat us. Well, we need to start teaching people how to treat us with the awe, reverence, and respect we deserve. 

Here are FIVE THINGS we can all stop doing RIGHT NOW that will make the world a better place for all Black women:

1. STOP judging a Black woman’s beauty by European standards (skin color, hair texture, and body size/shape);
2. STOP judging a Black woman’s strength by how she copes with oppression and abuse;
3. STOP judging a Black woman’s worth by whether or not she’s in a romantic relationship;
4. STOP judging a Black woman’s womanhood by whether or not she has children; and
5. STOP judging the value of a Black woman’s emotional or physical labor by her willingness to provide that labor for less than it’s actually worth.

Let’s do it for the diaspora, for Black sisterhood, and for OURSELVES!

~Art is “Internal” by Mia Bergeron. Neither SuzyKnew! nor I own the rights to this artwork.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 23, 2019

I long for the day when a Black woman’s strength isn’t measured by how much mistreatment she can endure. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget that you can be vulnerable or that sometimes you need help. And it’s easy for them to ignore your humanity because they think you can take it. Sure, we can take it. We can take whatever life dishes out, and look damned good doing it, too! But we shouldn’t always have to.

#NotYourMuleAnymore #StrongButHuman #BelieveBlackWomen #RespectBlackWomen#ListenToBlackWomen

~Art: African Woman by Psichodelicfruit

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 9, 2019

Self Love Is Everything!
Stop letting the opinions of others determine your self-worth! You’ll always be “too much” for some or “not enough” for others. Instead, focus on embracing who you are right now and loving yourself unconditionally. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve yourself, only that you should love yourself as you are now. 
When you learn to love who your are regardless of what others think about you, you’ll live a happier and more fulfilled life. Self love is everything!

~Art is “South African Woman” by an unknown artist and I don’t own the rights to this image

 

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 2, 2019

Sisters,

Strive to be a better person than you were yesterday, and stop viewing other women as your competition. There’s enough shine out there for everyone, Sis. You don’t have to take down another Black woman in order to rise. In fact, you don’t have to “take down” anyone! Remember, you can put your best foot forward without stepping on anyone else’s toes. And you can shine brightly without dimming another woman’s light. 

#SophiasSundayUplift #UpliftBlackWomen #BlackGirlMagic #BelieveBlackWomen #SupportBlackWomen #ListenToBlackWomen #HonorWomanhood 

~Photo courtesy of Pixabay