Since the time of slavery, African American women have endured many hardships. This group has suffered such injustices as racial prejudice, social and sexual discrimination. Women are constantly being placed under stereotypical microscopes. Black women have succeeded in the world today despite these setbacks. Maya Angelou's poem Phenomenal Woman suggests that women have always had an essential role in society.
In Phenomenal Woman, Mrs. Angelou, describes herself from her own point of view. She talks of her inner mystery and explains, to those who can't see it, why men notice her. Using a very rhythmic rhyming scheme, she projects a strong self-confidence. Using phrases that describe her body help her to show that self-assuredness. Every action she makes, from the stride in my step, to the fire in my eyes, shows that she moves about a room like she has complete control. The words she uses show that she knows what she is doing, and everything is intentional. She knows that even though she is not the generic, petite woman, she is beautiful and can attract attention from anyone she wants to. At one point, Maya Angelou says, I"m a woman. This statement is very broad. Broad in the sense that it speaks for many women, not just herself. She says this and it says, to me, that she is what she is. She is a woman, a woman who is phenomenal because she is herself, and she does not try to be anyone else but herself. Another place in this poem that shows this is when she says, it's the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. At this point, she truly shows her happiness, in general, and with who she is. Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. Men themselves have wondered what they see in me. With these two phrases, among others, Maya Angelou almost leads the reader to think that she believes herself to be unattractive. Although, being herself is what makes her attractive.