Who Does Superwoman Call When She Needs Saving?
By: Samantha White
Being a Black woman has become synonymous with Superwoman. If world history has shown us anything, it’s that these two descriptions can be used almost interchangeably. From leading slaves to freedom to spearheading social movements, black women have always come to save the day. We, as a collective identity, have proven to be the backbone of modern democracy through our unparalleled presence within polling sites, along with our unified demographic’s 90% voter turnout for President-elect Joe Biden. Melanated femmes have created one of the world’s most efficacious movements in history, the Black Lives Matter movement, and despite our lack of victim representation in the very phenomenon the movement attempts to prevent, we have continued to shepherd the crusade’s social progress. Our essence has proven to be influential- the blueprint for developing society in terms of fashion, beauty, and even language (yes, chile and period come from black women). The collective presence of Black women has proven to be heroic, forging an unmatched force to be reckoned with- a force that can endure the worst and overcome any source of adversity. Together, we have upheld the existence of Superwoman.
Our mere existence has thwarted the philosophical belief that life imitates art. After all, who came first: black women or Superwoman? And like Superwoman, there is the notion that because of our vast heroic feats, we are capable of protecting our own essence from brute outside destruction. In terms of the contingencies tied to our identity, strong has always been coupled with Black woman. But this strong Black woman narrative has fostered the perception of black women being outside the parameters of fragility. We have become exempt from society's perception of humanity and femininity. With our constant “saving of the day” and obvious media portrayal as indestructible, we are not handled delicately.
But like anyone else, we are fragile, we are human, and we are feminine. Ironically, with each generation of constant activism and mobilization of social movements comes the wearing of our physical and mental essence coupled with the increased view of our indestructibility. However, as aforementioned, there is another side to this narrative. Black women have an innate fragility that often has to take the back road because of what we have made our social responsibility.
But, Superwoman is exhausted. The savior complex seemingly flowing through our blood, serving as its own form of natural selection through our generations, has inevitably made it to my own bloodline. So I ask, if we the collective hero are exhausted and in dire need of preserving, who do we turn to? Who does Superwoman call when she needs saving?
These are the questions that ridicule my subconscious because of my identity. However, despite the exhaustion paired with it, being a black woman is one of my greatest prides. I find strength when reflecting on my history and contemporary feats. I’m happy to receive the baton of heroism, and when asked what my identity means to me I can’t help but think of the words privilege and honor.