Dear Sistas Release

Originally written April 2, 2014 by Zakiya Jackson

Dear Sistas,

(including those of you who feel you identify but are not Black)

I saw something tonight that makes me profoundly sad for us. Now that I am safe at home in the confines of my room, I can release my tears and send you my message…if you can hear it.

I want to say for you, and for me, that our salvation is not in our strength. It is not in us being stronger. Being strong Black women will not cure all our problems. You see, we are already strong. We are already beautiful. We are already proud. Being more of those things does not control the actions of others. If I am the strongest black woman in the world, and smartest, and more beautiful than Lupita or Halle, I can still be abused. If I am smart and wise and the baddest b*tch in the land, I can still be oppressed.

There will still be men who think it is best if you keep your mouth shut

in a relationship and do as the man says. Some of them are wolves in sheeps clothing. I can stop being in a relationship with him, but that doesn’t mean he will stop trying to control me.

There will still be other women who don’t like me because I am super high yellow and will try to punish me, professionally and personally.

There will still people who think you are too dark — which is the dumbest thing ever to me — but it will keep happening. And it may cause you pain.

There will still be white men who are afraid of us and our strength and wisdom. Some of them can still take our jobs away, no matter how perfect we are…no matter how much wealth or prestige or glory we bring our companies. They can do things that offend our dignity. It is not wrong if it hurts you when you are demeaned. You are human.

Our salvation is not in our strength — but we keep getting that message as we encourage each other and as others encourage us to be stronger and stronger and stronger. Strength isn’t bad — but it’s also not everything.

We are not God(s).

For all the Christians who say that bad things happen so that God can make us better, stronger people — I call bullsh*t. I don’t see it. Job wasn’t oppressed because God saw weakness in Job that needed to be refined. Though God did refine him in the process.

Just as women aren’t raped so that God can make them more reliant on him. Although, it may in fact cause some women to trust God more.

I once dated a guy who could have been considered verbally or emotionally abusive — I’m not up to date on my DSM 5 since I’m not a social worker anymore so I’m not sure what to call his behavior.

Anyways, I did not realize that was what was going on because he did not call me names. I knew something was wrong with the way he talked to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I would challenge him, but I also kept dating him. One day I was talking to a close friend about yet another thing he had said to me. She said, “Zakiya, I think if this was happening to one of your students, you would tell her that she shouldn’t be treated this way. You would tell her it wasn’t okay.”

My eyes exploded open and my heart fell.

I didn’t make the best choices with that fella. And it still took another few weeks to break up with him. But my poor choices DID NOT CAUSE his bad behavior. It’s not my fault he was abusive.

I’m sad, dear Sistas, that in perpetuating the impenetrable, strong, Black woman, we make it such that everything that happens to us, is all about us. That mentality requires us to be our own saviors. Which trivializes and cheapens the Christian faith that is so important to so many of us.

Acknowledging the above doesn’t mean we walk around as helpless victims. It actually empowers us in a purer way to seek our freedom and be strong and be weak when needed. It makes us more whole.

I am a strong Black woman. My strength is not my salvation. I cannot eliminate all risk in my life. I cannot make anyone love me or anyone treat me as they should. I can make good choices. And step away from those who treat me poorly, sometimes. I can use my voice and hold my head high. And I might still be oppressed. And I might still be abused.

I am not hopeless. And I am not my only hope.

Dear sistas, my heart is heavy and sad for us. But if any of you are tired of having to be strong for everyone and everything at all times, please know, you are not alone. If you need to make better choices, please get some help and do so. But don’t be punked and believe your circumstances are entirely about you. They aren’t.

Love, a fellow fighter AND one who has learned to rest in something other than her own strength,


*Special thanks to Kathi, Enchanta, Ginny and Dr. Chanequa — Sista friends that have taught me a lot about strength.



Collected Young Minds gave young minds a space to share their thoughts, engage with a community of peers, and gave voice to their views without censorship or prerequisites. This is a collection of essays written between 2013 and 2019 from various authors.

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Corey Ponder

Tech policy professional by day, wannabe superhero by night. Passionate about building communities, spaces, and platforms focused on inclusion and empathy.