I respect and admire strong Black women and I know that a significant reason for my own strength is the patience, support and practical power infused and encouraged by Sisters around me. But I also know that many of my Brothers fear the Strong Black Woman. A fear I know I once also used to harbour.
I was socialised to be fearful of strong Black women. To a point that I had the urge to shut them down, avoid them and despise them. My fragile sense of manhood seemed to grow a bit stronger proportionately with my ability to project my weakness on to women. Somehow I think I subconsciously had been convinced that if an Afrikan woman is left “free” to express her strength, she will probably steal mine.
But my mimicked, patriarchal nonsense did not last. My fortress of Eurocentric enslavement was not strong enough. I had forgotten that my Afrikan origin was a place of un-feared female superpower. The patient teachings of mothers, sisters, leaders, fighters and warriors overthrew my shallow aspirations for male supremacy. And gave me lessons in complimentarity. Balanced negotiation. Empowering power-sharing. Validation for my incapacitated Blackmaleness. Seeing myself and the world, at least in parts, through the eyes of an Afrikan woman who had also been…. castrated. Wow, my enemy was not her! And, through this realisation, discovering that she held a key to me and my oh-so-much-truer faculties of strength.
I am equally disturbed by the women I see who have accepted inferiority and those who have clownishly adopted Western feminism. Both approaches kill. But I fear even more the ease and non-urgency we so loyally exercise around the issues of imbalance and intra-oppression in our own family. We speak life, but allow death. We champion freedom, but worship shackles. We are busy walking away from liberation at a time when Afrika can afford it the least.
I am not fully free. My project of self-repair is far from finished. But I now know that when a sister is silenced, my own voice is butchered.