The Angry Black Woman

Written By: Danielle Pinder

Like many mixed race individuals, growing up I struggled with my identity. In my mind, black was a bad word and I feared claiming it as my own. I wished to put as much distance between my black roots and my identity, hoping that the tie between the two would eventually snap. I wanted to be seen as a strong woman, but not too strong. I wanted people to hear my ideas, but not too loudly. I wanted to stand up for what I believed in, but softly enough that no one would get offended. How could I not fear this part of my identity when even fame and achievement cannot protect influential black women from society’s imposed stereotypes? When Serena Williams expressed her frustration during the U.S. Open women’s singles final match, tabloids belittled her actions as a tantrum. When Michelle Obama was on her husband’s campaign trail, her speeches were manipulated into an attitude problem. It appears that whenever black women show any negative emotion, they are dismissed as an “angry black woman”. Although this bigoted trope is rooted solely in racism and ignorance, I have a few ideas as to why black women might be angry. 

Black women might be angry because the gender gap is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the hurdles they must overcome in the workplace. In the legal profession, 66% of black women have been excluded from networking opportunities, compared to only 6% of their white female counterparts (1). Perhaps they are angry because they are frequently failed by the healthcare system due to discrimination from healthcare workers, as well as the erosion caused by the chronic stressors they face in daily life. In fact, black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth (2). Black women might be tired of the hyper-sexualization they face in the media. This translates into their dating life, as it often prompts fetishized comments like “I’ve never been with a black girl” or “you look so exotic” (3). Maybe black women are angry because the world seems to only care about black lives when they are being killed. It could be because of the many corporations who are treating BLM as a trend or a way to prove they are “woke” before educating themselves on the basis of the cause (4). Black women might be tired of the posts, the hashtags, the “keeping in your thoughts and prayers” followed by utter inaction. Their anger might be based on the observation that the world seems to only now be waking up to the reality black folk experience on a daily basis. Maybe their anger has been inherited from those who have come before them, furious that they are still forced to fight for their right to exist in this world. However, it could simply be because they are tired of swallowing their justified rage in fear of being discredited as Sapphire. Quite frankly, maybe black women are pissed off that society is still asking why they’re pissed off. 

I can’t speak on behalf of all black women, but I know that I’m angry because I’m paying attention. In a matter of weeks, our timelines were flooded with countless posts, petitions, and resources highlighting the injustices endured by the black community on a daily basis. If you’re not angry about the current events, regardless of your race or gender, you’re part of the problem. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.americanbar.org/products/ecd/ebk/217591/
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/black-mothers-five-times-likely-die-childbirth-done/
  3. https://digitalcommons.tacoma.uw.edu/gender_studies/22/
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/business/media/companies-marketing-black-lives-matter-george-floyd.html 

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