The Problem with “Angry Black Woman Rants”
Have you ever heard the term “Angry Black Woman”? Chances are that you have. There’s even a Tyler Perry movie called Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Clearly the phrase refers to black women who are angry, but what is that terminology doing beneath the surface?
This topic came to me while I was in the shower, because let’s be honest- that’s where your most productive thinking comes from. Something about the hot water, I think. I was considering some recent social issues that had me seeing red. Want to make Skye mad? Talk about injustice. I will go from 0 to 100 real quick. The more I thought, the angrier I got. Me being angry wasn’t the problem, though. The problem is that I stopped myself mid-thought and said, “Don’t be an angry black woman, Skye.”
But then I thought…
Why not be an angry black woman?
What’s wrong with that?
Think about the terminology in itself. Why is there no “Angry White Man” stereotype? There is nothing wrong with being angry, and your ethnicity has nothing to do with the validity of your argument. Your race doesn’t invalidate your frustrations. I feel like the phrase is an attempt to muzzle women of color who are impassioned, trying to stop them from voicing the truth about things that are important.
If a woman is trying to voice her opinion, half the time she’s written off as “bossy” and “domineering.” If a woman of color tries to voice her opinion, she becomes an ABW. It’s just a way for those in power to silence the legitimate concerns of black women.
The angry black woman stereotype succeeds in being extremely offensive, being both racist and sexist at the same time. Isn’t that something?
It’s sexist because it insists that because a woman is speaking, it isn’t a legitimate issue of anger. It’s some frivolous “girl problem”.
It’s racist because it maintains that race plays a role in the legitimacy of what the person is saying. A less popular version would be an “angry black guy”, a stereotype that can be seen in Martin Lawrence’s portrayal of Tyler in Boomerang.
*Warning, slightly explicit in language*
If you find yourself getting the trifecta in being mad, black, and a woman, here's my two cents. My advice here for women of color, girls of color, people of color, is to think before you pop off (advice that everyone could take, honestly). Be aware that the ABW stereotype is a double edged sword. If you rebel against it, you fulfill the stereotype. People will only consider you a testament to the stereotype. If you don’t speak because of it- it’s served it’s purpose. So when you speak, speak clearly. Speak respectfully. Speak thoughtfully. That way, you aren’t seen as angry, ranting, or coincidentally a black woman. You’re seen as a human giving their impassioned opinion on something.
(Which is how all opinions should be seen, in my opinion)
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