A couple of days ago, for the first time in my life, I was called an Angry Black Woman. The person who referred to me as such (a black man) later apologized, but didn’t seem to truly grasp the meaning of what he said. Angry Black Woman is not a descriptive term to describe a woman who is mad and happens to be black. It is a racist stereotype. More importantly, it is derogatory title.
There have only been few times in my life that I have been rendered speechless but that title used to describe me did it. I pride myself on being a well educated black woman who will not hesitate to stand up for herself and fight for what she believes. I believe I do this is a non destructive or demeaning way. So for a man to call me that while I am arguing for the respect I deserve, was truly a blow to my pride.
While I know I am not an Angry Black Woman and have pulled my hurt feelings back together, I can’t help put remain angry at the ignorance. Words are very powerful – so before you go running at the mouth, make sure you understand the definition and history of what you are about to say.
I have included and excerpt from an article that addresses the history of the Angry Black Woman.
Beginning in the early 1830s, the first “black women” American audiences saw on the American stage were minstrel “Negro wenches.” Using burned cork and greasepaint to blacken their skin, white men in their performances as black men and women became wildly popular in the mid-19th century. White men used crude drag along with the burned cork to mark black women as grotesque, loudmouthed, masculine and undeserving of the protections afforded to white “ladies” in American society.
Black women were ridiculed on the minstrel stage. Mammies were fat, monstrous, asexual and loyal caretakers of white children and neglectful of their own. Jezebel characters, often called “mulatto” or “yellow gal,” were fair-skinned, disloyal, greedy and hypersexual but not portrayed as beautiful. These blustering women yelled at their spouses and acted loud and inappropriately in otherwise genteel, public spaces to demonstrate all the ways that they were different from white women. The distance from and disdain for black women was reinforced by the fact that although white women were stage performers in the 19th century, it was thought to be too bawdy and low for them to blacken their skin for the minstrel stage.
These stereotypes served the needs of a slave regime that wanted to justify the sexual exploitation of enslaved women by painting them as Jezebels, like the biblical wanton woman whose promiscuity and controlling nature was her supposed undoing. The rapes of enslaved women could be laughed away on a minstrel stage that showed black women as temptresses who wanted nothing but money and sexual attention. The mammy stereotype painted over the ways in which black mothers were forced to raise and nurture white children to the detriment of their own families.
This history isn’t marginal to American culture—it’s central. Amos ’n’ Andy was one of the most popular programs on radio and television. Popular minstrel songs like “Camptown Races” and “I Wish I Was In Dixie” are still sung today. Softened minstrel images are still on supermarket shelves in the visage of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. And evidently, the stereotype of the angry black woman is also with us…
… the trope of the angry black woman carries a weight that deserves careful understanding…
My favorite line: “These stereotypes served the needs of a slave regime…”
As a culture we should be coming together. Some are so quick to blame someone else for their misfortune, and yet a black man will not hesitate to label me as An Angry Black Woman. People will go out and support a black producer who creates movies entitled “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”…but that is a blog for another day.
Lets all just be aware of what we are saying before we say it. Understand that media and society will have your mind conditioned to be ignorant of the connotative meaning of things.
Educate yourselves! Here is another blog that touches upon this subject in a wonderful way – 6 Ways to Stop Being an Angry Black Woman
Peace, Love, and Happiness