The ORIGINAL Vivian Banks—The Strong Black Woman We All Wanted to Be.


In the 90s there were a few Strong Black Women on network television — Claire Huxtable, Maxine Shaw, Khadijah James, just to name a few;  but the original Vivian Banks was by far my absolute favorite.  She was classy, well dressed, had a career outside of the home and everything about her SCREAMED, confidence.

AND as classy as she was, she wouldn’t hesitate to snatch off her earrings and get you ALL THE WAY together in a nice-nasty kinda way.

The gif above is from one of my favorite episodes. In this scene SHE. CAME. TO. SLAY.

She was determined not to let them lil girls show her up.

Her vindication at the end of the iconic dance sequence was a shared experience among all Black women who had ever been told they would never be good enough.

But if you follow the scene, after she served them BODY in that skintight pink leotard and SLAYED that dance routine, you’ll see that she fell to the floor in exhaustion as soon as she exited the room.

When this episode originally aired, I was like, YES, GIRL, YES!!! Show’em how it’s done, Aunt Viv!

But, now that I’m older and because I’m always looking for the teachable moment in EVERYTHING (my kids hate that about me), I see that scene and immediately begin to question why we [Black women] drive ourselves to complete overwhelm and exhaustion trying to prove to the world that we’re good enough.

The Strong Black Woman portrayed on television is often one of self-sacrificial strength and one that provides unlimited support to friends and family, all while fighting to prove that she deserves a seat at the table.

See, that’s the one I can’t get down with.  I can’t be Olivia Pope, Cookie Lyons, Mary Jane or Annalise Keating.

Listen, I love them all.  I was glued to the television every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, but sis I can’t live my life like that. 

So, like I said in a previous post, I get why some of us are ready to renounce the TROPE of the Strong Black Woman.

It’s like network television went from one extreme (the mammy, the Jezebel, the sapphire) to the next  (the self-sacrificing Strong Black Woman), thereby perpetuating the idea that the Strong Black Woman has to sacrifice herself to be ALL THE THINGS to ALL THE PEOPLE.

So, I thought we could take a little break from the day and do a little visualization because there is something so uniquely rare about THE STRONG BLACK WOMAN and it has nothing to with how the world portrays her.

Go with me if you will to your safe place – that place where you’re free to just be….

A Strong, Black and Woman without apprehension and without apology.

Close your eyes and picture her –cloaked in uninterrupted brown skin, naked and unashamed, her crown positioned perfectly.

Can you see her?  Can you see her humanness – her enoughness – her greatness.

Isn’t she lovely!

SHE IS ENOUGH! If she never marries, never gives birth to children, never cooks a meal, never runs a marathon or sits at the head of boardroom table, SHE IS ALREADY ENOUGH!

You are already enough, sis.

…and the only person you need to prove that to is you.

You don’t have to morph into somebody else’s version of the Strong Black Woman.  You don’t have to be the fixer like Olivia Pope, slay giants like Cookie Lyon, be the Queen in the conference room  like Mary Jane OR save EVERYBODY like Annalise Keating.

Ain’t nobody got time for any of  that! Do you, Queen because nobody does it better.


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