Narratives of Enduring the Strong Black Woman Stereotype

KeyShauna Blackwell and Dr. Medha Talpade, Department of Psychology, Clark Atlanta University, 223 James P Brawley Dr SW, Atlanta GA 30314

There are traces of the Strong Black Woman (SBW) stereotype dating back to the enslavement of Africans in America. This stereotype is a belief that black women are inherently strong, able to overcome the worst, and can endure it all. An exploration of the impact of this ‘strong woman’ social stereotype on black women, and their need to embody this stereotype, has been limited. The current study attempts to understand the stories of black women who endure this stereotype from those around them and how this affects them as a black woman. Essentially this research asks what is the story of enduring the strong black woman stereotype for black women of different ages? Using a narrative qualitative study, 7 African American women were interviewed to examine the chronicles of living with this stereotype. By means of stratified sampling, these women were between the ages of 19 to 87. Education levels between the women varied with 1 having a Ph.D., 2 with a bachelors, 2 currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree, and two with a high school diploma.  In analyzing the individual stories, two main themes arose: Resiliency -- since it is necessary, and Battling Expectations about black women and emotions. These finding were validated using member checking and rich thick descriptions. The final portrait reveals conflicts between the social and personal identity for black women.  With only 2 to 3 participants from each generation, findings could only be generalized to the specific cohort of black women. Future research possibly should seek to understand the stories of one generation at a time in depth. Other limitations and recommendations are considered in the discussion section.


Keywords: Strong black woman, African American women, narrative

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: KeyShauna Blackwell

Institution: Clark Atlanta University

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6638