This is an interview with a former academic colleague, Shauntae Brown White, Ph.D. Dr. Brown White is an associate professor in the mass communications and English departments at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, is a Christian and is married to the Rev. Dr. Harry L. White, pastor of Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. From her credentials, many of us would consider her a strong black woman. Check out her views on being controlling:
In what ways are you controlling?
I like order in the midst of chaos. I don’t like feeling like I am out of control. But, the reality is there are many things that are out of our control. Though I have grown in this area, there are some times when I believe that my way is the better choice. However, through maturity I’ve realized that is arrogant. My way is the best for me, but that is only one option.
How has being controlling affected your relationships?
My husband hates being controlled. I tell him how to do things, especially domestically or with our girls. If there was one thing he could change about me, I think it would be it. I’ve had to learn to bite my tongue. Some things simply don’t need to be said.
I don’t really think I try to control others. But, I do pray about my future relationship with my daughters. Much of the tension in my relationship with my own mother was based on my perception of her trying to control me and me resisting. I am sure it must be very difficult to learn how to relate to your children as adults. We are their earthly protectors and guides for so long—more than 18 years. But, we have to learn how to let go and let them make their own mistakes. Of course I have a few years to negotiate this since my daughters are 6 and 3.
Why do you think you are controlling? What have you done to stop being controlling?
As I said above, some of it is arrogance. Some of it is the desire to be helpful when I see that something is “missing.” I have learned to ask the question of myself, “In the whole scheme of things, does it really matter?”
I’ve also prayed a lot in my marriage—asking the Lord to give me discernment for the things I need to mention and the words to do so, and when I need to let things go.
I’ve also developed the mantra, “If it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me.”
Do you consider yourself a strong black woman? If so, why?
I do not consider myself a Strong Black Woman. Why are black women the only ones who are expected to be strong? We never hear comments such as, “That’s a strong white woman there.” Or “Now that is a strong Asian woman.” I find strength and encouragement in the Lord. I am persistent. I am determined. I have drive. But, even a rubber band can break when there is too much tension on it. I want to have strength, but I want to also have the space to be vulnerable.