Updated: Feb 18, 2021
This week I asked my Instagram followers what they wanted to know to help me decide on a topic for this week's blog post. I received a couple of good questions, but as you can see from the title, I chose to tackle a relevant and complex topic: African-American anger.
The first thought that comes to mind when I hear the phrase, 'African-American anger', is what is African-American anger? What does it mean to be African American and angry. And then I thought of the stereotype, 'angry Back woman'.
To be a stereotypical angry Black woman is to be bitter, defensive, and outspoken. An angry Black woman is a woman with a chip on a her shoulder and as a result, vengeful and unapproachable. Portrayed in the media, she is a caricature to make a mockery of.
I would like to use the rest of this post to speak directly from my own observations and experiences as an African-American woman.
Why are Black women angry?
The obvious question is what makes us women angry in the first place. Though I am not a spokesperson for all Black women, I can make some educated guesses about why we are angry.
Women in general are more marginalized among the sexes; and Black people have endured a multitude of injustice and disrespect for hundreds of years. Put the two in tandem and there you have the weight of the world placed upon a Black woman's shoulders. This weight includes oversexualization, underrepresentation, and unfair expectations.
Black women have made and continue to make contributions and advancements in American history and world history and as such, the world is indebted to us. But why are we made to feel like the last to be chosen in gym class?
What makes me angry?
As a Black woman living outside of America, stereotypes are what anger me the most. When I enter into any space, I tend to tread lightly. I don't know if the stares I get from other individuals in the room are of curiosity or disgust. I also know that there are a boatload of expectaions that enter that space just as I do. People are constantly making assumptions about me based on what they think they know about what it means to be a Black woman.
Women tend to admire my beauty but express pity for the racism I must indure due to the color of my skin. Men either think I am a beast on any sports court or assume I am willing and ready to bed them. Neither is ever true. I am far more than the body that houses my intellect and my spirit.
But the problem with these stereotypes is not that they are untrue for all; but that they are incomplete. They blur the vision of who we really are at our core. If this topic interests you, I suggest you watch the following TED talk presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Am I an angry Black woman?
When thinking on this topic, I also asked myself the question above: Am I an angry Black woman? I vivdly remember thinking to myself as a child, possibly in junior high or evern as young as elementary school, "I don't want to be a stereotype" What did that mean to me at the time? I didn't want to be loud. I didn't want to be mean. I didn't want to show too much emotion. I didn't want to associate myself with any negative images of Black women that I saw on televison.
In retrospect, I beleive I just wanted to be liked. Loud and outspoken girls brought too much attention, whether negative or positive. I just wanted to blend into the background and not cause too much trouble. So I spent much of my childhood being quiet, and content. The problem is, I never allowed myself to be angry. I didn't how to deal with anger because in my mind, anger was bad. For me anger always results in tears. And I an the most non-confrontational person I know.
I am not an angry Black woman, but not because of the previous resaons. I am not an angry Black woman because there is no such woman. An angry black woman, is a Black woman who happens to be angry. Anger is an emotion, and like all emotions it comes and goes. Therefore, I do feel angry at times, but I do not hold on to such anger and let it take root in my spirit.
I have found ways to expression my emtotions which include, writing, praying, and having necessary conversations with close friends about similar issues as these.
So...What is the cure to African American anger?