Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
That the Black woman must be strong in order to endure the oppression she has been forced to withstand is a double-edged sword that equally contributes to both her dehumanization and willpower to survive. This project interrogates the patterns and characteristics that contribute to the schema of the strong Black woman through the examination of cultural texts foregrounded in biblical scriptures against literature written by prominent Black women through Beyoncé. Specific tropes explored include the jezebel, the mammy, and the sapphire with a conclusion that these harmful and dehumanizing stereotypes have cultivated a fallacious assumption of supernatural strength and resiliency that society has expected Black women to aspire to.
As such, the ideologies presented within this project are examined through the analysis of literary portrayals of hypersexualization and subsequent justification, self-erasure and mulehood, and Black girl magic and double and triple consciousness. A well-rounded framework for uncaping, or demystifying, the Black superwoman is made possible by bringing biblical beliefs to the table with scholarly and literary works, enhanced by discussions of theatrical and musical portrayals of Black women. This project proves that Black women have been severely mistreated long before and well after the institution of slavery in not limiting the contexts in which the controlling images of Black women are portrayed to a specific genre or time period. The Strong Black woman schema incessantly demands perfection in all that we do through the shattering of glass ceilings in an attempt to dismantle the master’s house. So, too, must the stereotypes that celebrate mythical supernatural strength and concurrently shame the Black woman be shattered.
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Thomas, Tricia I..
"The Strong Black Woman ≠ Superwoman: Shattering Stereotypes of Strength in Black Literature"
(2023). Master of Arts (MA), Thesis, English, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/24a9-x313