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,
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.
- Laini Mataka