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,
post-slavery nightmare!

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

 Response by D.S. White:
The Strong Black Woman is Dead! Or is She?
No she’s not dead
she’s just experienced a rebirth.
Through the memories
of her daughters and granddaughters
who have learned
from her triumphs and failures
and realized
that strength is knowing
when to ask for help
when to cry out
when to be silent;

She’s realized
that what she’s experienced
does not define or confine her
that pride which prohibits healing
is no longer a banner
but a prison;

She’s realized
that she is a word spoken from God
and as such
will not
return to Him void.
In essence she’s come full circle
in realizing that
servitude was not the problem
just the master she served;

She’s realized
that being proactive
is much more effective than being reactive
so she chooses her battles wisely
knowing when to fight
and when to let it go
her choice of weapons being
an education
proper financial planning
and community involvement
to enrich the next generation;

She’s realized
that it rains on the just and the unjust
so she’s chosen
not to harbor
a sense of injustice;

She’s realized
that comparisons are self-defeating
so she’s chosen
to celebrate her uniqueness
and strive for her personal best;

She’s realized
that loving
not giving up on the black man
is key
so she’s chosen
to start with her brothers
uncles, cousins, nephews
sons and grandsons
for she knows
the viral power of love;

She’s realized
that submission to her mate
does not equate servitude
so she’s chosen
to embrace the peerless system
of checks and balances
as designed by God;

But most of all
she’s chosen…to forgive
live in the present
and love…always love.
which takes
uncommon strength.

Copyright © 2005 by D.S. White, All Rights Reserved

(Hattip to the blog, )



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  1. As a self-described Black man, what’s happening is that life still is with me. Life still being with me means that the real, wise, strong Black woman is alive and well.

    There is no point living without her…

    The universe selects for her dominant genes so even the cold, white-lab-coat science knows…

    • fezeka

      she percieved and persevered the bad and worst proceeding with her struggle to maintain black man’s dignity, keep her mothers teachings and not to neglect her priest’s preaching. it makes me wonder if did she or should I say will she a ever get achase to ask herself”how about me?” because she sure deserve better than a life of struggle. the strong black woman is ead within her own body.

  2. JJ

    I say let that Bitch die.

    • TT

      Are you lost or maybe a male trapped in a female’s body? Maybe you are one of the reasons why the strong black woman is dying. Get it together. Get on our level.

  3. cyndy

    how pathetic you are. you could not possibly be black because that would mean your mother too. if we died oh what trouble the world would be in. so i say, let the ignorance of those like you die and perhaps be re-born with the capacity to understand the profoundness of what is described in the poem “death of the strong black woman”.
    I’m so sad for you.

  4. tiny1021

    It’s good to see the letter traveling as much, when I first receive it I myself sent it to every strong black woman I knew. I think we all can relate to some of the lines on this poem…Kudos!

  5. napps4change

    I hate that term-strong black woman! Whatever happen to “powerfull black woman!” Slave owners would dress the women the same as the men while the women were forced to do back breaking labor next to our men. That you couldn’t tell the men from the women. We strong like a damn mule. We can take all of the garbage, live hard lives, go through much BS, but were is our power? Forget being strong I WANT THE POWER!!!!

  6. DesertBunny

    I agree with you, where is the power?

  7. laini mataka

    The proper name for the poem is, “BEING A STRONG BLACK WOMAN CAN GETCHU KILLED”; written by me, Laini Mataka. The poem was stolen and passed around before the book even came out. The thief changed the ending, which was: Well, the Strong, Silent, Sh–t-takin blk woman is officially DEAD. Will the real queens,
    please RISE!”

  8. @Laini. That must have been quite annoying! I hope it at least got you some attention for your book and some extra sales?

  9. reincarnation

    Loved both poems very much, I myself wonder if I am a strong black woman i have done some strong things. Yet i know i must a like a new school strong cause i f I can’t handle my problems I drop them like hot potatoes and fast too! Their is nothing wrong with that we can’t help everybody some folks got to start manning up men and women. This year alone and I promise to God above, I had to turn away two very close people who wanted to stay with me why? Because I CAN’T DO IT! No more fighting with people who live with me and don’t clean up or pay bills or go grocery shopping once they used all their food stamps. I am not watching anymore kids so other people can go out when they can’t afford to anyways. I am not strong enough to to walk on eggshells in my own house. I am not strong enough to endure hollering kids all day. i don’t visit jails or pay bail if your in jail your in jail. I stopped I couldn’t take it they did kill me, I died and it felt great. See after I came home from the ambulance after having auditory delusions and passing out the doctors told me i had a good old fashion nervous breakdown due to hypertension. I had what you guys call a white girl fit. When i went home I slept the doctor wrote a note for my job did you know you can get vacation if never mind…LoL.
    I started healing but it was crazy because I thought i was done for but in my fragile state of mind i noticed something nobody can around to see if i was okay and that was my emancipation. I sat in my yard alone and read books for hours i mean i read everything i even read a play named Antigone. I listened to music I never heard before, drawing, painting, grow some flowers didn’t go so good my first time at it but i’m better now. amoungst all this i even found I had a talent for drawing henna tattoos I now do them for an income, then i quit smoking. I never imagined how my world coming to end that day was the best thing that could ever happen.

  10. The Funeral
    Recalling for the record:
    At 11:59 pm Last night there was a death.
    No one called the police because someone finally took authority!
    The funeral was approximately sometime after the mourning!
    The eulogizers didn’t speak long because there weren’t too many good things to say!
    But at the grave site…
    I buried my yesterday.
    For 20 years to 30 years I lived in, and basted in the past…
    Grieving promises of change
    Abusers, lovers, who wore all types of disguises, lies, and masks,
    A Pity they never did last!
    Yet it was a quiet ceremony because we already rained and complained, bawled in a corner down through the ages…
    You see the condition was acute and the will to live was in the terminal stages!
    There was no other remedy but to pull the plug.
    No more bleeding Issues,
    Not one more bags to lug!
    Leaving a message to the world:
    No more afflictions of abuse, nor pain.
    Finally behind me with nothing to gain!
    Hear from experience my persuasive voice:
    Because on the contrary you do have a choice!
    Stop viewing yourself victimized, worthless and low…
    Trust Your God and Let all that stuff go!
    ©Valerie Miller in Library of Congress 2010

  11. Silent Screams@ (from the book “A Resume of a desperate woman”)
    Even more cataclysmic than the rolling thunder
    The screams emanating from the depths of the earth…. extending more than a thousand feet under…
    Shrills from the bed chamber while yet in my youth…
    Abduction in cars
    Domesticated pain
    Cruelly Beating, beating till nearly in-same
    The cold unsterilized knife driven in my chest
    Heart break
    Violence, violence, violence
    Yelling at the top of my lungs but not one soul could hear…
    Help me, please help me but a silent scream would only reverberate from the debts of my heart
    Where did these screams go?
    Dancing in the church houses, often singing, drinking, at the pubs…. Pillar to post… meeting men or women at the clubs,
    Coast to every coast
    Wasted degrading lives…
    Still no one…. would dare to hear…
    You hurt me when you touched my innocence… didn’t even think twice when you tampered with my life
    So pay close attention listen to the silence when you enter a relationship
    Listen to the silence while on the bus or train, when your children rebel or seclude in a shell …
    And when you see you neighbor close their doors their lives and smile
    Listen to the silent screams…

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  12. sonia

    This is an excellent poem. there are still women dying of having to carry all the burden in silent,some they do it for the respect of their children,community,and as well as their husband. some they even hate sleeping around preferring to live with one men while being abused either verbal,physical or emotional but even if they are still here it does not mean that they still live,these woman are being killed emotional,scars can be hidden but the dying part remains,because when u want to move on that part will always remind u of where u have been.

  13. Sherron

    The poem at the beginning was perfect in everyway. Every word, every sentence and the way it was put together sums up a black woman. The struggles, the cries, the pride we have to carry can be too much. But you know what sisters, keep in mind God knows why he made us so strong. Never ever forget that God took a rib from Adam to create us but we, we are the ones that can produce the male species, so why would he create us to be weak if he was to give us so much power. Our lives were made for us to have challenges because without challenges there is no strength for us to gain. Let us thank God that some of us that can withstand the challenges go through them because if you cannot take the rough how will you ever know that the smooth is only around the corner? With God’s help there is no test that we cannot pass. May God bless you all.

  14. sonia

    Oh my goodness was it really necessary for the men to make a video while they were having sex,I do not know the sister but I feel something for her. this woman(the strong black sister) is dead she will lose everything. the 17 minutes took everything from her,it took her family, her job,her marriage,her respect from everyone. this is a sad story.

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