The Roots & Strength of Black Womanhood by Phumuzile Mabasha

Looking from the outside in one would believe that all Black women do is fight, gossip or basically hate each other. This is a narrative that is perpetuated on mainstream TV with shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, the Love and Hip Hop franchise. In some cases this is also perpetuated in some television shows. Shows that I am ashamed to watch and enjoy.

One of the biggest lies I have been told is that black women and women in general just can’t get along or support each other. My father recently passed away and at the funeral it was my mother’s friends, sisters, aunts and even acquaintance that stepped up and helped us through the funeral process which is known as “rufu” in my mother tongue. I was in awe at how everyone came together. Friends and family members that she had even fallen out with. They paid for everything and made sure my mother and I ate. They decorated the vigil area for my father’s coffin. All my family paid for was the flowers and food for the catering after the funeral service.  I felt that there was deep understanding that each woman had for my mother that she had lost her husband. One of her friends even went as far as saying she will not call my mother a widow.

As someone who had believed the lie that as black women we don’t get along or support each other, I was greatly touched by this and saw the strength of black women. The roots that help us move forward in our struggles and successes. This made believe that even though my mother had lost her husband of 38 years, she will be looked after and supported through this and whatever happens in this new chapter of her life.

Additionally, I also felt that I will be looked after and supported during this time by my mother’s community and by mine. I grew up with men and they were the ones that always were my pillar of support but I don’t think they can comfort me the way my friends have and the way my mother’s friends have done for her. There are some things that men just do not get and that’s the beauty of female friendships and interactions.

The Dalai Lama once said that “A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm” and that is something that is true in black womanhood. The roots of our relationships with other black women will help through anything, and it should not just be through our struggles but our triumphs as well.