Recently a clip from a Father’s Day sermon titled Real Men Pour In by megachurch pastor TD Jakes has caught backlash on social media. In his sermon, TD Jakes advice to women is to be careful pouring too much into men because men are designed to pour into women. Jakes claims that women are designed to take what men pour into them, increase it, and make it better. He goes on to say, “This breaks all the sociological order of the culture we are living in now. Because we are raising up women to be men. And you are not applauded for your femininity. You are applauded in the contemporary society by how tough, rough, nasty, mean, aggressive, hateful, possessive you are. And you’re climbing the corporate ladder, but we are losing our families. I know you can buy your own car. I know you can buy your own house. But until you create a need that I can pour into, I have no place in your life. So stop coming home bragging to me about how much you don’t need me and wonder why I shy away.” He goes on to say the conversation has become let’s prove to the men how indispensable they are. He says it is born out of pain because men have hurt women, betrayed women, lied to women, cheated on women, and women became how we are out of pain.
I have heard this argument often about women, particularly Black women, and how Black women are perceived as being strong and overly independent. No one ever really speaks on how Black women were never allowed to be anything else. I believe that many Black women would relish the opportunity not to be strong, to let their capes go, and to give up the chore of being superwoman. The problem is that Black women never had the luxury of simply being. We never had the luxury of having a smooth life.
Black women were brought to the country in chains. Our men were shackled. We have been raped, beaten, and abused. We were forced to nurse children we didn’t birth, forced to bear children from our enslavers. We watched our families be divided, our children torn from our arms, we watched our men be slaughtered, and still had to work in fields for a harvest we never enjoyed and work in homes we never owned. Often, we had to do this all with a smile painted on our faces, even as our world was crumbling and our souls were screaming. Over 400 years later, it has not changed. Even after 400 years, there have been no days off from struggle, oppression, and racism. Tell me, when has there ever been a moment in the life of a Black woman in America where she could just be? When was the moment that Black women (if they chose) could stay at home, tidy up the house, take care of children, cook a nice dinner and sit back and watch soap operas all day without a concern in the world?
Black women live underneath a veil of always trying to survive. And sadly, we know that our survival is often rooted in the survival of our husbands, our partners, our children, and our families.
Black women aren’t strong because we just love being strong. People must remember that Black women never had the opportunity to be anything else but strong. We were never given the option to simply be. I recall when I went to a retreat last year for ten days, and they told me, “Enjoy your stay, Hannah. You don’t have to do anything but whatever you want to do.” It was such a foreign concept to me. What do you mean I don’t have to do anything? I was confused. Surely there was something I must be doing. It took me three days to realize, “Wow! I can do anything I want.” No one had any expectations of me. And you know what I did the most? I slept. Because I hadn’t realized how physically and mentally exhausted I was because I am always in a state of doing. I had never been in a state of just being. My soul was tired. For the past year, I had been in a state of fighting for justice. I was fighting for this nation to see itself. Fighting because I know our very survival is on the line. Everything was a fight. When was it just going to be easy? When could I just sit outside and enjoy my garden? When could my life just be a life of peace? This perpetual state of doing and being strong was killing me. Believe me, if there is a Black woman in your life, trust me, she is tired.
Just this month, I read about three Black women who were in their early 40s that died in their sleep. One was an online friend of mine, and I went to look at her feed to see what she was posting about before she died. Sure enough, it was about injustice. It saddened me that those were how her last moments were spent – fighting, screaming, and begging people to do something different because we always see our happiness just on the other side of injustice. And too many Black women’s lives are being sacrificed being strong and holding others up while we live a back burner existence only to die in our sleep. When do Black women have the opportunity not to care? To say this battle isn’t mine. That I am not going to expend my energy trying a fix a nation that is hellbent on destroying itself. That can no longer be the job of Black women. Black women were not created to save you from you.
Please do not misunderstand Black women and strength. Black women were robbed of a life of luxury. Understand that we were never given the option to be anything else but what this world needed to extract from us. It wasn’t the life that we chose. It was the life that was saddled on us, and the label “Strong Black Woman” was given to us to make us feel okay with the continual struggle. It is not okay to live your life in a constant state of surviving when Black women should be thriving. Black women, you must understand this world is NEVER going to give you the option of peace and luxury. EVER. You must take it. I am done asking for permission to put myself, my happiness, and my peace first. This country was never designed with your peace as a goal. You must create your own peace. You must find your center and your state of just being. You owe that to yourself Black woman. That is how you thrive. You don’t need to be strong. You don’t need to be resilient. Give yourself permission to just be. Black women deserve a life of gentleness, compassion, grace, love, leisure, and luxury. Merely surviving from day to day shouldn’t be the goal. Living beyond the umbrella of survival is. Be well, Black women.
Categories: Thoughts, Musings and Reflections