By Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant
The defining caliber of Black womanhood is energy, states Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant in "Behind the masks of the powerful Black Woman". yet, she argues, the assumption of power undermines its genuine functionality: to safeguard and retain a stratified social order by means of obscuring Black women's studies of anguish, acts of desperation, and anger. This provocative ebook lays naked the typical notion that energy is an exemplary or defining caliber of 'authentic' Black womanhood. the writer, a famous sociologist, interviews fifty eight Black girls approximately being powerful and proud, to demonstrate their 'performance' of invulnerability. Beauboeuf-Lafontant explains how such habit results in severe indicators for those girls, a lot of whom be afflicted by consuming problems and melancholy. Drawing on Black feminist scholarship, cultural stories, and women's historical past, "Behind the masks of the powerful Black girl" strains the old and social affects of normative Black femininity, how notions of self-image and energy create a distraction from broader forces of discrimination and gear.
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Additional resources for Behind the mask of the strong black woman: voice and the embodiment of a costly performance
We Black women didn’t have body image concerns. And even if we did, how could we trouble ourselves with something as frivolous as size when we had racism, AIDS, and a host of other battles to ﬁght? (199) The discourse of strength actively denies the struggles faced by this woman and reframes her distress as “frivolous” and inauthentic. ” Growing up, they learn that “you’re everything to everybody . . and you don’t think about yourself” (Carlisle Duncan and Robinson 2004, 91). As adults, they often look askance at weight management because of their internalization of strength’s reasoning that “we have too many other things that we have to worry about,” such as shouldering responsibility for the emotional and ﬁnancial care of families (Walcott-McQuigg et al.
And suppose that behind this black girl, there was a whole string of little black girls who had faced this same jungle with their imaginary advantages and been defeated. Would it not be an act of unkindness, of extreme injustice really, to tell her that she was a woman of special strengths, of exceptional opportunities? Without white-, male-, or class-privileged status, Wallace insists that poor Black girls and women are afforded virtually no protections and recognitions as “inherently valuable” human beings with “the right to search for happiness and freedom (Smith 1998, 33).
Taking race, class, and gender domination as givens, the discourse asserts that the intertwined problems that Black women know well—the compromised opportunities occasioned by poverty, male privilege, and the association of Blackness with expendability—are not grounds for social outrage but acceptable tests of individual mettle. The question then turns to whether such women are “strong enough” to endure these hardships, not whether inherent problems exist in the organization of society. Furthermore, as a strategy of gender upheld in Black communities, strength celebrates Black women’s heroic actions and deﬂects attention from their circumstances.