The ‘Angry Black Woman’: Could We Be Giving Life to the Stereotype?

When you were growing up, did you ever say something like, “I can tell my sister about herself but nobody else better not!”? Yea, me too. I could talk about my sister all day long, tell her how messed up she is, and even fight her. But nobody else better not look at my sister wrong lol. Well, I also feel this way about my ‘sistas.’ I will always be real with my sistas when they are wrong but I would never sit back in silence while ‘other people’ bash my sistas. There were many times in the past when I’ve had to come to the defense of me and my sistas (I’ve since learned not to respond to everything) on social media. From being called “black ghetto b*tches”, “unclassy”, to “angry black women.” I’ve explained how we are raised to be strong and sometimes it can come across as being angry. I’ve explained that many of us were raised by single moms who sometimes worked 2 or 3 jobs just to keep food on our tables, leaving us to care for our younger siblings. I’ve explained that many of us walk around with a frown or “mug” on our face as a defense mechanism; we don’t want to appear too soft, giving the impression you can run all over us. I’ve explained that many of us grew up without fathers in the home and sometimes had angry mothers who were just tired.

But as much time as I’ve spent defending us to others, I’ve spent as much time telling my ‘sista’ about herself. I believe many of us play a role in giving life to this stereotype and don’t even realize it. We can’t keep screaming, “Black women aren’t the only women with attitudes!” We can’t keep screaming, “Black women aren’t the only women fighting on TV!” And don’t let a black man say anything negative about us. We go off. We get bent out of shape when a black man says he has more peace with women of other races than he has when dating black women. When I hear things like this, it doesn’t offend me and make me want to call him a “coon” or remind him that his mama is a black woman. I realize he may very well have come across some black women who were not so peaceful. But let’s be clear, there are some men who truly have some self-hatred and would never marry or procreate with a black woman. I’ve read some testimonies of men who feel this way. A couple of them have even gone viral on social media. The black men I’m referring to, though, are the men who love them some black women but unfortunately have run into drama time and time again, took a trip to the “other side”, and then found peace. Now he doesn’t want to come back. This man truly believes black women are not for him. (For the sake of not getting off topic, I’ll save this topic for another article.)

As a black woman, when you hear us referred to as “angry black women” do you consider that there may be some truth to this, or, do you become defensive because black women are just misunderstood?

 

Let me just quickly share what prompted me to write this article…

One day, I was driving in my car when another car came alongside me honking its horn. When I looked over, it was a young lady trying to get over. I slowed down to let her in front of me. As she was getting in front of me, she yelled something at me I couldn’t make out and then called me a BTCH. It didn’t upset me. It actually made me sad as I thought, ‘this little girl doesn’t even know why she’s mad‘. I simply shook my head and turned to my daughter (who is 12) and I said, “This is one of the reasons why we are labeled angry.” I went on to point out to my daughter that nothing had transpired between us (I didn’t hesitate to let her over when I saw her), yet she got herself worked up enough to call me a BTCH. And we can play devil’s advocate and say, “maybe she was having a bad day.” And that’s true. It could have very well been a bad day for her. But the problem is, I see this way too often. Like I explained to my daughter, I’ve worked in healthcare as a Medical Assistant for over 13 years now, and my experience with patients alone (not even counting coworkers) has helped me see why we have this stereotype. Over the course of my 13 years, 6 1/2 of those years were spent working in a doctor’s office where our patient population was predominantly black. Another 4 years were spent working in a doctor’s office where our patient population was made up of various races, black being the less dominant race. While I can’t say we didn’t have any problems in this office, they didn’t come close to comparing to the number of problems we had in the office in which the patients were predominantly black. Granted, the majority of these patients lived in low-income areas, and that may have a lot to do with it. But do we excuse anger, and irate and disrespectful behavior just because they live in a certain area? Do we not encourage and empower these women to rise above their circumstances and strive to be better women in behavior, attitude, and character?

Three years of my experience were spent teaching Medical Assisting courses at local colleges, which is what I currently do now. The majority of my students are black women, ranging from as young as 18 years old to old enough to be my mother and I am constantly encouraging these women to NOT give anybody anything negative to say about them. I’ve recently broken up arguments and fights, citing that this is the very reason we have this stereotype. And reminding them that people are sitting back watching and posting these things on social media. Let’s stop giving them drama to post.

Sistas, we are so great at coming together when other people come for us. But what if we came together without reason? What if we regularly acknowledged one another for the black beauties that we are? What if we adjusted another black queen’s crown when it falls off rather than stepping on it? What if we stopped spending so much time defending the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype and spent more time destroying the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype?

If you know you don’t fit into this, great. This is not for you. But she knows who she is. I’ve recently had students say to me, “Ms. K, I know I have an attitude and I’m working on it.”  If you know you have a chip on your shoulder… If you know you have an attitude problem and can pop off for no reason… If you know you can be a little nicer to the people around you… this is for you. Yes, we might have a long way to go to dispel the myth that all black women are angry. But I believe with each sista who recognizes maybe she is playing a role and begins to truly work on self, we are one step closer. We’ll never fix what we don’t face. My friend/sista, France Neptune, has an awesome movement/ministry, “Edify Your Sister” which is all about building up and encouraging one another and praying for one another. You can visit her site at EDIFYYOURSISTER.COM

I pray this article resonates with at least one person and possibly starts a conversation among circles of friends. I also pray this article is not taken the wrong way. I am only challenging my sistas around me to examine themselves and I’m examining myself to ensure we are not giving life to this stereotype. As always, please feel free to reach out for advice or prayer requests. My email is love_mizzk@yahoo.com

Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think we need to do better? Do you believe saying black women are angry is an exaggeration? Do negative stereotypes of black women date back to slavery?

 

Until Next Time!

Love, Mizz K 

 

 

side smile Kendra “Mizz K” Fowler is a poet, blogger, and the author of Pain, Promiscuity, Purpose: From Mess To Ministry and Not My Goodies: 10 Benefits of Practicing Abstinence until Marriage” which can be found on Amazon.com. You may connect with Mizz K on IG @love_mizzk and on Facebook @AuthorMizzK

 

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