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The perpetuation of the ‘Strong Black Woman’

The ‘UN Women’ has flared tempers and raised controversy from their post on Valentine’s Day, denoting the acceptance of love. In the picture, they have portrayed different types of love that support the LGBTQ community and have used different races between the companions. Unfortunately, they have chosen to perpetuate the notion of being a ‘strong black woman’ by graphically expressing her alone, embracing herself, other than with a companion.

This depiction incites questions such as ‘is the Black woman not worthy of love?’ ‘Is the only love that Black women should get internal?’ ‘Does no other race find black women attractive?’ Even in their illustration, there is a black man, who is seen embracing a Caucasian woman. This is to say nothing about interracial relationships, but to emphasize how this picture insinuates that not even black men want black women.

This ignorant portrayal of Black Women has raised comments such as “y’all should have known better”, from author Roxane Gay. Ameshia Cross commented: “It’s #BlackHistoryMonth and we are still in the back drop of a racial reckoning in America and somehow organizations still find ways to diminish and insult Black women. It’s unacceptable and uncalled for”. Further, one of the comments read; “The fact that you left the Black woman out in the cold to love herself really accurately represents the historic and

current way the world views Black women as unworthy of receiving love, doesn’t it? If that’s what you were going for, you nailed it. If not, seek antiracism help”.

Having received the backlash, the post was taken down and replaced with a post of a GIF that states ‘Love is Love’ and the caption: “We posted an illustration on Valentines Day, depicting love in all its diversity. We listened to what you said in the comments & decided to take it down. UN Women works for gender equality&empowerment of all women and girls regardless of age, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.” This, in all its forms is the greatest deflection of all time. UN Women did not take responsibility for what it had done, nor did they and the graphic designer understand why people were outraged. The atrocious post went viral and without an apology and they expected life to go on as though nothing happened at all.

The problem is that these stereotypes have been normalized and therefore those who look from the outside in, be it because of their gender or race, do not understand what these visual statements actually mean or do. There are vast numbers of ways the illustration can be interpreted; however, none are complimenting or proposed in good faith. The perpetuation of black women being left alone should not be a marketing agent or an expected outcome.

Black women are worthy of love. We are deserving of a love words cannot explain. We do not deserve to be seen as a symbol of solitude and isolation.

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