Feelin' Ourselves: 10 Things Black Women Do (and Have Always Done) Better

by Amber Dorsey

Women of color are literally the personification of the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Since our ancestors touched foot onto American soil, we have successfully navigated our way among the many obstacles that rose up and were presented to us so that the next generations would have it better. Now it’s 2015 and it seems the world has finally begun to realize the amazingness of black women and its doing its damndest to try and keep up. But no matter what, there will always be some things that we just do better. Maybe it’s a black thing.

1. Throwing shade. 

Honey, throwing shade is practically a way of life for Black women and if you were raised in the South or have strong Southern roots, you know they especially do it better than anyone else—all with a smile on their face that will have you saying thank you after being served.

2. Impeccable style. 

Fashion may be what trend is currently on the runways, but style is all about how you interpret and express yourself. Black women have style in spades. If you disagree even an inkling, take a look at pop culture and what’s currently “hot” in the fashion world. You’ll see the underlying tones of the hip-hop movement and black culture as a whole. I’m looking at you Bo Derek, Iggy Azalea, and every designer that sent baby hair down the runway.

3. Lively storytelling. 

For as long as I can remember, the black girls in my school and at my jobs (myself included) were always the storytellers of the group. Whether we were on sports teams, in class or meeting discussions, or sharing lunchtime gossip, the black girls had the best scoop and could tell the same story heard only an hour before by a fairer-skinned counterpart and suddenly it became that much funnier. We learned this from our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers—also incredible storytellers—who can recount narratives with impressive dramatic (and comedic) timing.

4. Getting sh*t done and running things. 

Let’s be honest: in the movies, the characters who look like “us” are always described as “strong black women” whose stories are all about how we can always ‘get it done’ no matter what circumstances we may be up against. While it can be exhausting and limiting to have to fit within this stereotype, the truth is that black women do carry a legacy of being resilient, powerful, and resourceful. It makes sense that the rest of the world looks to us to “handle it.” Olivia Pope, anyone?

5. Truly remarkable hairstyles. 

Baaaby, black hair is a multi-BILLION dollar industry because we do it bigger and better than anyone. We got the hair game on lock. Not only do we spend more, but our hair styles are ten times more imaginative and about 100 times more intricate—not to mention the variety of ways we wear our hair and how often we switch it up. Have y’all been to the Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta? Spend 10 minutes inside and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s said that the average black woman spends a third of her life “doing her hair.” Whether that’s a joke or not, everyone else better step their game up.

6. Food. 

Sure, Paula Deen has been proclaimed the “queen of Southern cooking,” but who do you think taught her everything she knows—or her mama, for that matter? Black women are known for throwing down in the kitchen while being some of the most creative cooks. We are the originators of Southern cuisine and soul food, not to mention Caribbean, Afro-Latin, and African cuisines as well. We have done so much for food, there are a number of copycat “gourmet” chefs who have become successful trying—and failing—to perfect what comes natural to us.

7. Our sense of language. 

People spend their whole day trying to “get their sassy black woman on” and using language they bit from us. Black woman owned brand Tees in The Trap has built a successful business around our unique sense of language. The response across the board—not just from women of color—has been insane. African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), Ebonics, slang—whatever you want to call it—has permeated our society to the point that it’s now being used as a marketing tactic (I recently got an email about “sales on fleek”), and has been co-opted by mainstream popular culture as a whole.

8. Faith. 

It’s baffling that so many traditional religions paint women in subservient roles, because black women happen to be some of the most spiritual (and spiritually empowered) human beings on this Earth. Yes, many of us attend church services on Sundays, are involved with our faith communities, and make sure our children are raised with a firm belief in God. But it goes deeper than that. Black women just have an innate sense of connectedness, a knowingness about the way the world works. It’s truly inspiring and beautiful. And yes, we make the best prayer warriors as well.

9. Creativity. 

We are some of the most artistically and creatively gifted people. Whether it’s singing, dancing, writing, filmmaking, or visual arts—black women got it goin’ on. But we’ve also mastered the life skill based art of “making something out of nothing,” which is a whole different kind of creativity in and of itself. As black women continue to dominate the entertainment and literary, fine, and performing arts worlds, the rest of the world is finally getting hip to the fact that when we make something, we’re usually making magic.

10. Surviving and overcoming. 

Black women wrote the playbook on beating the odds. Within the U.S. alone, ours has been a history rife with struggle, trauma, and heartbreak. And even today, we still face institutional oppression that’s sole purpose seems to make us invisible, if not nonexistent altogether. And yet, like our beloved Maya Angelou wrote, still we rise. We continue to shine, continue to fight, continue to build, continue to create, continue to nurture, and continue to love. It would seem that black women are just incredibly talented at being phenomenal. Period.
As it's Black History Month and soon-to-be Valentine's Day, don't forget to celebrate your excellence in whatever way you can this week. Whether the world recognizes it or not, Black women are the flyest and we know this. But every once in a while, it's nice to be reminded. 

Did we miss anything? What else do black women do better?

Amber Dorsey is regular contributor at For Harriet.

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