Through My Mother's Eyes: History, Memory, and Trauma in Narratives of the "Strong Black Woman"

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Stewart, Tre'Anna Dionne-Louise
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Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis examines Black womanhood through the lenses of postmemory, trauma and survival, social capital, and the strong Black woman archetype. Using the life narrative of one Black woman from Atlanta, Georgia, this work demonstrates how the strong Black woman archetype is directly related to the African American postmemory of slavery that has been ingrained into the lives of Black women for generations. It exemplifies how the strong Black woman model is both a tool of survival and a trauma response and is at once traumatizing and fortifying to the individual Black woman. It also demonstrates how multigenerational maladaptive behaviors, violence, and rigid obedience training are rooted in slavery and continue to be traumatizing. It is within this context that the strong Black woman identity is formed. The narrator’s story reveals how survival networks, often headed, or strongly supported by Black women, have been essential to the survivance of the Black community, often acting through the Black church or other mutual aid associations.
Black Women's Studies, Oral history, Postmemory, Strong Black Woman, Survival networks, Trauma, History, African American studies, Women's studies