Fierce Angels

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dr. Sheri Parks, associate professor in the American Studies department at the University of Maryland and author of Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture, discusses the mythology of the "strong black woman" in both black and mainstream culture in the United States.


Sheri Parks

Comments [26]

Sheri's views seemed a touch green to me - like an enthusiastic undergrad who has just discovered sociological interpretations. Her explanations seem steeped in the language of victimhood & exceptionalism & rather dated one-dimensional sociology.

May. 05 2010 10:56 PM
bernie from bklyn

riley- yes, that makes sense and you opened my eyes to some things i didn't fully realize.
becky- i'm not speking negatively of the black race; just calling it correct and telling what is reality. and black people and hispanics are not one and the same. i have heard that many times in my life just because we're both "monorities" supposedly. every ethnic group was a minority at one time and i feel like mine is rising out of that and becoming the majority just like the italians and irish did 100 yrs ago. don't align yourself too closely with hispanics- the spaniards treated african slaves as bad if not worse than the dutch or the british.
the point is we're all minorities at some point but the whole idea of this country is that we all have the potential rise above and prove all the naysayers wrong. so stop talking about it and do it. prove 'em worng and rise above.

May. 05 2010 07:27 PM
Riley from New York City

Bernie, I agree it would be foolish to assume that racism is the sole cause of the over representation of black males in the prison system. Within the Black family Black girls are expected to be responsible, strong, and intelligent while black males are coddled and not held to same standards as their female siblings.

Why is this? I think it is due to the perpetuating the strong Black woman archetype in our families. Black mothers have to be the defenders of their family as well as the nurturers because Black women are the least likely to be or ever have been married. As single mothers many black women have the role of super woman forced upon them not only from the cultural inheritances of slavery and non black mythology but because of the reality of their situation and the state of the Black family.

I’m not saying that this archetype in its totality a burden. In some ways the strong Black woman archetype has lead to the success of Black women. For instance Black girls are twice as likely as Black boys to attend college. However, as the author said the role of super women, taking care of all those around you and thinking of your self last if at all, puts Black women at greater risk for emotional stress. As for Black men, the salience of the strong Black woman myth has left no room for the strong Black man, and this in addition to the lack of Black men in the family household has left Black young men behind. What we as a Black people really need is to hold our men responsible to fulfill the role of the super Black man because if the Black super woman had a Black super man beside her the role wouldn't be so daunting.

May. 05 2010 12:29 PM
Zorah from Westchester

The comparison bwtn black men in prison and black young men in college is inaccurate because when you look at the number of black men btwn the ages of 18 -22, there are more men in that age group in college than in prison.

May. 05 2010 12:23 PM
The Truth from Becky

UH MIKE....that is going to be a combo of curiosity and lust. DUH

May. 05 2010 12:22 PM
The Truth from Becky

Bernie, you a hispanic, should not be speaking negatively of the Black Race, in the eyes of certain Americans, we are one and the same ALSO, read my posts again, I am not in celebrations of the Black Female's accomplishments, the Female race as a whole is to be celebrated since we have to tolerate those such as yourself!

May. 05 2010 12:21 PM

Bernie, it's not just classism in the sense of being able to afford a better lawyer than a public defender (or really just one with the ability to devote more time to your case). The racism and classism manifests itself often in the sentencing or in the plea bargaining. It's not hard to imagine the difference in outcomes for the arrest for drug possession between a suburban white youth and an urban black youth. Not even very hard to imagine the difference in outcomes for a rich black youth and a poor white youth.

May. 05 2010 12:15 PM
bernie from bklyn

yes, i agree, there is certainly classism in our justice system...i.e.- being able to afford a good lawye or not. but 40% of the prison population? 1 out of every 10 black men is in prison? some is due to classism but can't be solely blamed for these high rates.
beky- yes, i'm "not a black" as you say but i am latino and grew up poor and have been caught up in the classism in the justice system but my comments are separate from that. it's about a pervasive cultural irresponsibility in your community. check yourself before you celebrate the accomplishments of the strong black woman.

May. 05 2010 12:05 PM
T. Williams from Brooklyn

Nathan! Nathan!! Naaathan!!! Go on with your bad self!

May. 05 2010 12:05 PM
The Truth from Becky

Dr. Parks, sadly this is not Black Culture, this about male and Female all over the world in ALL cultures.

May. 05 2010 12:01 PM

[[Please remember the WNYC posting policy, which asks that you keep the conversation productive and civil. Try to refrain from personal attacks.
-BL Show-]]

May. 05 2010 12:00 PM
Theresa from Brooklyn

Go Nathan! Woohoo!

May. 05 2010 12:00 PM

What would be the motivation of Black men who marry or exclusively date white women?

May. 05 2010 11:59 AM

I agree that this is not solely a black issue. I,as well as my mother, have assumed this role. I think it's a women's issue more than a racial one.

May. 05 2010 11:59 AM
The Truth from Becky

BERNIE, I will say this and then dismiss you, it is you who are living in fantasy if you believe every Black Male in prison if guilty, clearly you are NOT a Black.

May. 05 2010 11:58 AM

Sooo not limited to black women. Chinese women don't have the priviledge of getting angry.

May. 05 2010 11:58 AM

Bernie, look at the nonviolent offenses which land black men in prison, compare the rate of incarceration for those crimes amongst black men and minorities in general, to white men, you'll see a huge discrepancy. Not the rate of prosecution or even conviction, just incarceration. You can do the same with a comparison between poor white men and well-off white men and be just as shocked. Racism and classism is everywhere in the justice system.

May. 05 2010 11:56 AM

This "myth" exist in mainstream society is a manifestation of the sub-conscience awareness of the external stress an African American female has to survive individually and reproductively.

May. 05 2010 11:56 AM
lanvy from nyc

"SUPER"?? Come now. Maternalistic leadership, instinct & responsibilities are parts of MOST cultures. We dont believe these to be anymore super than accepting and taking on the most important responsibility of a household.

May. 05 2010 11:56 AM

White girls have to take on more family responsibilities than the boys too. I don't know any white families where the girls are allowed to be princesses. I have a feeling that this is a universal way of raising children in all cultures.

May. 05 2010 11:56 AM
bernie from bklyn

that's a nice fantasy world you're living in, but black males are 40% of our prison population. that's all due to racism? that's why things will never change if you keep believing that.

May. 05 2010 11:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

Old rhetoric...I think about myself all the time and I do not let others heap their stress on to teach people how to treat you.

May. 05 2010 11:50 AM
Michelle from NYC

I second The Truth.

May. 05 2010 11:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

I have found that the title is bestowed by others perception of the person or personality, by those with lesser self esteem, I am confident and outspoken but far from a superwoman!

May. 05 2010 11:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

FYI Bernie "more of their sons" are in prison due to racism more than the inefficiency of the Black Mother as you are trying to imply.

May. 05 2010 11:47 AM
bernie from bklyn

yes, a "myth" it american women may appear to be strong in some meaningless ways but the reality is that more of their sons are in prison than in college and that is sad.

May. 05 2010 09:22 AM

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