From the first time I saw Denise Harris at The Fit In Bedstuy, I felt something in her. She was healthy, vibrant yet badass looking. She just gave that vibe. It was around the time I was truly struggling with the idea of what a "Strong Black Woman" means in this society and how it has actually been a term abused and actually works against black women. I decided to photograph a few women and many of use agreed, redefining this term in a way that serves us best is such an empowering and life saving thing to do.
I asked Denise- When did you first realize how the role Strong Black Woman plays a role in your life? "This is a hard question because I know the definition most tagged onto "Strong Black Woman" - she is a woman of color perhaps managing multiple roles mother, wife, worker, homemaker, student etc. - wears multiple capes. She has an unwavering strength and works hard. She's self-reliant and perhaps self-contained (showing no signs of sadness or pain). And under pressure if she cracks, has to perhaps take one of those capes and ask for help her "Strength" as a Black Woman is then questioned.
I was raised by my mom who I would consider a "Strong Black Woman" for sure but the only difference was she was able to take off the cape and always asked for help and we were taught to share our feelings...always! So growing up this way this is what I knew. ...What most people might think a "Strong Black Woman" may be is not so clear cut - our lives are all different, personalities are different, needs are different etc and we we can all be Strong Black women and not compromise ourselves, we can be Strong Black Women and ask for help, show our moments of sadness or weakness and still be bad ass."