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Recognizing the Roots of Your Strength

Written by: Saeeda Ruffin

Black women are everything, and that’s a definite fact. Sisters are the heart of the Black community…the glue that holds families together. Known as the matriarch, the rock, and, of course, the Superwoman of the family – Black women wear each of these titles with the regality of an African queen. You know for yourself that a sister is gonna’ do what she has to do for herself and her family…period. You have to wonder where Black women draw all their strength from. The answer is a place we call the “Motherland”…Africa. Yup, right back to the home of our ancestors. In Africa, women were held to a very high level of accountability and expectations. They were responsible for everything from the health of the family to the care of the home, while the men focused solely on being providers. This was the basic structure for most African families, and it took a lot of strength on the part of the women to make it work. They did, and their communities thrived.

In Africa, the men might be gone for long periods of time, hunting and working to provide for their families. During those times, the women had to shoulder the responsibility of making sure that everyone was taken care of and that the homestead remained intact. As a result, women created these amazing and unified communities — yes, Sis, the Village! The sisterhood they built and nurtured allowed them to lean on each other, grow together, and love each other’s families as their own. Even today, that sisterhood lives on.

Beyond the village, there were other women who were tasked with even greater leadership roles. They were the real-life African queens. These queens were incredibly powerful, with their riches and sovereignty over their lands. They led men and warriors and were required to fight for their people. They were about their business and giving up was definitely not an option. Many are descendants of those queens. Their fight and determination lives on in Black women today.

As time progressed, Black families were torn apart, relegated to conditions and circumstances that tested their commitment to the well-being of their loved ones, and the community at large. It was during those trying times that Black women had to pool all the strength they had to keep moving forward. Ain’t nobody got time for letting things fall apart. Today, that tenacity is even more apparent as sisters strive to unify and progress with the steadfastness of a true queen, just like our ancestors. It’s almost magical how Black women do it all so well!

Despite all of the social injustices and the remnants of slavery, you thrive! Sisters, you are and have always been your brothers’ keepers. You have made exceeding expectations your life’s work, and the village is better because of you. That drive and those ideals all emanate from your African roots.

Not just during Black History Month, but every day, flaunt your cape. Flex your success. Rise above everything (and everybody) that tries to hold you back from greatness. Your strength comes from centuries of toiling, leading, and loving. Like Auntie Maya Angelou said, “Bringing the gifts that our ancestors gave, I am the hope and the dream of the slave.” Carry it all with strength and grace, as you continue to rise.

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