The "Strong" Black Woman Is Dead

May she be dead and buried so we may rise shackle-free, no mythology and live our own true individuality.

Here’s the original poem by Laini Mataka
The Strong Black Woman is Dead

On August 15, 1999, at 11:55 p.m., 
while struggling with the reality 
of being a human instead of a myth, 
the strong black woman passed away.

Medical sources say she died of natural causes, 
but those who knew her know she died 
from being silent when she should have been screaming, 
milling when she should have been raging, 
from being sick and not wanting anyone to know 
because her pain might inconvenience them.

She died from an overdose 
of other people clinging to her 
when she didn’t even have energy for herself. 
She died from loving men who didn’t love themselves 
and could only offer her a crippled reflection. 
She died from raising children alone 
and for not being able to do a complete job.

She died from the lies her grandmother 
told her mother and her mother told her 
about life, men & racism. 
She died from being sexually abused as a child 
and having to take that truth 
everywhere she went every day of her life, 
exchanging the humiliation for guilt and back again.

She died from being battered 
by someone who claimed to love her 
and she allowed the battering to go on 
to show she loved him too. 
She died from asphyxiation, 
coughing up blood from secrets 
she kept trying to burn away 
instead of allowing herself 
the kind of nervous breakdown she was entitled to, 
but only white girls could afford.

She died from being responsible, 
because she was the last rung on the ladder 
and there was no one under her she could dump on. 
The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the multiple births 
of children she never really wanted 
but was forced to have 
by the strangling morality of those around her. 
She died from being a mother at 15 
and a grandmother at 30 and an ancestor at 45.

She died from being dragged down 
and sat upon by UN-evolved women posing as sisters. 
She died from pretending 
the life she was living 
was a Kodak moment instead of a 20th century, 
post-slavery nightmare!

She died from tolerating Mr. Pitiful, 
just to have a man and the house. 
She died from lack of orgasms 
because she never learned 
what made her body happy 
and no one took the time to teach her 
and sometimes, when she found arms 
that were tender, she died 
because they belonged to the same gender.

She died from sacrificing herself 
for everybody and everything 
when what she really wanted to do 
was be a singer, a dancer, or some magnificent other.

She died from lies of omission 
because she didn’t want 
to bring the black man down. 
She died from race memories 
of being snatched and raped 
and snatched and sold and snatched 
and bred and snatched and 
whipped and snatched and worked to death.

She died from tributes 
from her counterparts 
who should have been matching 
her efforts instead of 
showering her with 
dead words and empty songs. 
She died from myths 
that would not allow her 
to show weakness without 
being chastised by the lazy and hazy.

She died from hiding her real feelings 
until they became hard 
and bitter enough to invade 
her womb and breasts like angry tumors. 
She died from always lifting something 
from heavy boxes to refrigerators. 
The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the punishments 
received from being honest 
about life, racism & men. 
She died from being called a bitch 
for being verbal, 
a dyke for being assertive 
and a whore for picking her own lovers. 
She died from never being enough 
of what men wanted, 
or being too much for the men she wanted.

She died from being too black 
and died again for not being black enough. 
She died from castration 
every time somebody thought 
of her as only a woman, 
or treated her like less than a man.

She died from being misinformed 
about her mind, her body 
and the extent of her royal capabilities. 
She died from knees pressed too close together 
because respect was never part 
of the foreplay that was being shoved at her.

She died from loneliness in birthing rooms 
and aloneness in abortion centers. 
She died of shock in courtrooms 
where she sat, alone, 
watching her children being legally lynched.

She died in bathrooms 
with her veins busting open 
with self-hatred and neglect. 
She died in her mind, 
fighting life racism, & men, 
while her body was carted away 
and stashed in a human warehouse 
for the spiritually mutilated. 
And sometimes when she refused to die, 
when she just refused to give in 
she was killed by the lethal images 
of blonde hair, blue eyes and flat butts, 
rejected by the O.J.’s, the Quincy’s, & the Poitiers.

Sometimes, she was stomped to death 
by racism and sexism, executed 
by hi-tech ignorance 
while she carried the family in her belly, 
the community on her head, 
and the race on her back!

The strong silent, talking black woman is dead!

Or is she still alive and kicking? 
I know I am still here.

Bookmark and Share

2 Replies to “The "Strong" Black Woman Is Dead”

  1. This is the true first line: "on April 25, 1997, at 11:55 p.m."
    This is the true ending: Well the strong, silent, sh*t-taking blk woman is officially DEAD! Will the real queens, please RISE!"
    The poem was changed by the person who stole it. Thank you for your interest and appreciation of my work. Laini Mataka

  2. Greetings, Faith!And may she finally rest in peace. Every time this phrase has come up in conversation, I've made a point of doing "mini-lectures" about how this "strong Black woman" label is a trickbag in support of exploitation.As I stress (especially to younger BW), I DON'T want to be "strong." A woman having to be "strong" means that something has gone horribly wrong!I want to be protected and provided for like every other race of women on this planet. I want to be free to express the full range of femininity like every other race of women on this planet.I'm so happy you posted this. Thank you.Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Comments are closed.