What is a Strong Black Woman?


Once, my uncle walked in on me crouched over the washing machine in tears. I was “venting” to myself and I didn’t realize anyone else was there to listen to my present plight. 

He walked over and said, “Shauness”, in his low and steady voice. That is his nickname for me. In his relaxed and laid back way he said, “everything alright?” I chuckled to myself because my uncle is like that.  He’s not overly emotional but he has a way of letting you know he cares about you.  I proceeded to tell him about whatever was upsetting me at the time and I continued to let the tears stream down my face.  Then he said something I will never forget:

“It’s alright to cry.  It’s alright to completely fall apart.  The catch is, you have to put yourself back together again. That is what a strong black woman is.  It is not the lunatic yelling and screaming or the person who gave up. It is the woman who has unmatched resilience.  That is the legacy.” 

Today for Martin Luther King Day I have been thinking about “the legacy.”  I came across a reading I have always loved from “African American Political Thought” with quotes from Washington, DuBois, Garvey and Randolph. It is one of my college favorites. There is a DuBois excerpt from “A Philosophy from 1913”:

…I will be a man and know myself to be one, even among those who secretly and openly deny my manhood, and I shall persistently and unwaveringly seek by every  possible method to compel all men to treat me as I treat them. 

In 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated. 

Prior to his death he was fighting for and preaching about the same thing. Today is an American holiday because it wasn’t about black supremacy it was about human rights.  It was about change.  It was about…LOVE. 

What legacy does his widow Coretta Scott King have to preserve? I wonder how often she has to “fall apart and put herself back together” again. I wonder how often all the wives, girlfriends, and mothers of slain activists or martyrs “fall apart.”  I wonder if they have ever said “I don’t need no man!”  I wonder what trials they have faced.  I wonder if they have ever called AAA for the 2 gallons of gas that comes with the membership because they can’t afford to get to work.  I wonder if anyone has ever called them a “bitch” or looked down on them. I wonder if they even see color at all or if they just feel pain with no identification and no overly simplistic labels. I wonder what their definition of a SBW is and if they even consider themselves one. Is Coretta glad he fought and died or would she have chosen normalcy? Would she have chosen a movie and dinner?

What will your legacy be?


By: Shaun Nickens 



The People of the Drum (guest post)

The People of the Drum”

BY COOKIE LEBARD Thursday, February 20, 2014  10:31:22 AM

I’m admittedly biased as I’ve marveled all my life at this rhythmic bunch,

Being one of their number with chest swelled proud, is a probable hunch.

Every function availed to have a reason to twist, turn, shake and gyrate,

One basic ingredient the response to the drum that makes a body quake.

Whether a tribal confrontation a festivity I must admit practically anything,

The birth of a child, rain, awakening of the sun will prompt a need to sing.

Arriving to the coasts of a foreign country against their wills, they rowed,

And if any hesitation was detected the beat intensified if the ship slowed.

The beats of the heart joined the steady boom, the melody of the drummer,

Speed magnified much like a cup of Cuban coffee offers no need to slumber.

The British and the American armies became inclined to march to a beat,

The youth fashioned a drum and bugle corps that became somewhat elite.

Chaka Zulu improvised new methods to slaughter and raise testosterone,

And the brave outmanned army of Sparta banged shields to sound not alone.

All the members of the orchestra make sweet music but when require glue,

Find someone like Gene Krupa or even Sheila E. any of that category will do.

They might apply the brush, congas, base just something to carry the beat,

And before you know it,  no recourse save getting your body out of the seat.

Even when searching for the King of Beasts on the plains of desert Africa,

You can hear the drum helping to scour the area for man eaters as a lure.