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Black History Month Essay Contest: Third Place Winner Angie Geno

Image provided by Angie Geno

Angie is a proud Woman of Color and strongly connects with her Japanese heritage. She says that she initially wrote and submitted the essay because “I wanted to challenge myself to learn more about another group of people and to learn more from their perspective.” She says she encourages everyone to try new things and to be inspired by lessons from other people around them. Angie is currently part of the Legislative Affairs team of the Student Leadership council and is majoring in Biological Science.

I am afraid I must begin with an apology for my unawareness of how extremely paralyzing the “Strong Black Woman” trope affects so many of my fellow peers, co-workers, friends, and future people I have yet to meet. We are miscommunicating- Let us clear it up. While I cannot argue that Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks played some of the most substantial roles in the fight for equality in the Black race in America, I would not also discourage the thought that even they had some “silly little feelings.” One cannot recognize inequality, inequity without feeling the rage of the lack of respect they were given. For if you did not have feelings, why would you want change? Why do you feel anger when you are treated less than you should be?

Your “silly little feelings” are not a negligible variable.

I am sheltered. I have been blinded by the precarious ideology of social media. I never realized the extent of the trope of the “Strong Black Woman” is affecting Black Women. When I think of the “Strong Black Woman” I see a warrior, I see pride, I see comfort in their skin, I see confidence, I see talent, I see ambition, I see advocates, I see educators. To me, a “Strong Black Woman” is a Black Woman who looked inequality in the eyes and said, “you can’t put me down if you tried.” But if my idea and knowledge is not the truth, I was just fortunate to have so many Black Women from whom I can learn.

To the “Strong Black Woman” who I see in the news, social media, music representation, engineering, science, and every space in between- I look forward to hearing about you. I look forward to hearing about your “silly little feelings” which propelled you to tackle the challenges in our community. 

To the “Strong Black Woman,” I hope you learn to relish and find comfort in your “silly little feelings” and come to an era where your feelings are neither “silly” nor “little.” It is time that you acknowledge that our feelings are okay. That you understand anger is not a “bad” character trait or personality flaw- but a part of our experience to learn as a person in the world. It is okay to feel anger when you are not treated right, you SHOULD experience all your emotions to the fullest. 

To the “Strong Black Woman,” I am rooting for you. I hope mental health is destigmatized. I hope you continue to walk with your head held high. I hope to continue to learn from your innovation, research, and dedication to all the fields so many Black Women are leading important conversations. I am rooting for you. I wish you nothing but the best, and I look forward to your disruption in society- we need it as much as we need you.

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