The Myth of the Black Superwoman

Back in 1976, Michelle Wallace, a young Black woman in her 2o’s, wrote the controversial book entitled “Black Macho and the Myth of the Black Superwoman,” which detailed how the intersection of race and gender affects the progression of success in the Black community.  She discussed the myth of the Black superwoman, which essentially consists of stereotypes deeply rooted in slavery…that lazy Black women are capable of doing more physical labor than the average woman, consistently sacrifice themselves for others, have no emotion, and are really just “men”.  Additionally, the matriarchal structure of the Black family led by a strong Black woman created during slavery was credited for the emasculation of the Black man and subsequently the disfunctionality of the Black community.  Wallace contends that the myth of the Black superwoman shapes the negative perceptions of Black women, and it carries over to present day via the “independent Black woman with an attitude that doesn’t need a man” and the “lazy 5 baby having by 5 baby daddies on welfare” stereotypes…both very different, but equally damaging to us and our success.

We are women…and we are Black.  We have experienced the joys of motherhood and at the same time have experienced rape and gender discrimation…and we share that with all women.  With our Black brothers, we share a deep cultural history, as well as a constant misjudgment by others based on the color of our skin.  Our experience is unlike the experience of any other race or gender classification.  We acknowledge it, and though we are put through unnecessary troubles because of the stereotypes that we endure, we embrace it.

We also embrace the idea of being Black Superwomen.  No, not in line with the myth that has been perpetuated…Black Superwomen by OUR definition.  We are women that have been able to succeed under extreme circumstances.  We have emotions and we have needs.  We are spiritual.  We are women that put our happiness and well being first because we deserve it.  We are beautiful.  We are smart.  We are Black Superwomen!

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