I’m Not Allowed To Be Angry: An Exploration of the Angry Black Woman Trope.

Why? Why aren’t I allowed to be angry? To put it simply, stereotypes… Stereotypes and the constant invalidation of a Black Woman’s emotions. We can also add tone policing and most of all, blatant misogynoir. So maybe it can’t be simple. But let’s break it down together.

Stereotypical Angry Black Woman Meme
Angry Black Woman Meme

Stereotypical Angry Black Woman.

When you watch movies, what kind of roles do Black women have? (if they even have any roles.) Are they all pretty much the same character? Are they all upset about something? Are they rolling their necks? Are they threatening to fight someone? And the most importantly, are they all scaring/threatening a white woman? When writing roles for black women there’s no variety. Nothing to show them in a good light. As a result, we’re just known as always angry. (If you see a black woman in a movie/tv show and they’re screaming, fighting, drinking, smoking, and talking about welfare, and their baby daddies, the writers ain’t shit.)

Taraji P. Henson as "Cookie" in Empire.
Taraji P. Henson as “Cookie” in Empire.

Invalidating Black Women’s Experiences and Emotions.

Since many people don’t know how to separate roles from reality, we’re stuck with this narrative. And since we’re stuck with this, we’re not allowed to have any emotions. Any emotion we show is just brushed off as us being angry… even if we’re 1. not angry or 2. allowed to be angry. We’re just told to “calm down” or things aren’t “that serious.” That means our experiences and emotions are constantly being invalidated. What happens when you’re constantly being invvalidated? WE GET ANGRY. Black Women are constantly made to feel like we don’t matter and as a result we get told to calm down. This isn’t only coming from white america. This is coming from within our own communities.

They’re constantly telling Black Women how they can show emotion, when to show emotion, and to calm down if they do show emotion.

Black Men are bashing us, making us feel like  we don’t matter, and then just calling us angry. Black Women are teaching Black Girls  not to  show emotion. Not to cry. Not to be rightfully angry. But are they telling white women the same thing? Are they telling Black Men the same things? No.

Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. 

If you didn’t already know this term, learn it. Fighting the patriarchy when you’re black is a whole new ball game.

 

Let’s Talk About Respectability Politics… Part 1

Respectability Politics Won't Save You T-shirt
Respectability Politics Won’t Save You T-shirt

What is it?

In the simplest of terms, It is the idea that in order for oppressed groups to be treated like human beings, they have to behave better. This is commonly taught within black communities and then enforced by white outsiders. So we’re taught that in order for  institutionalized racism to stop, we have to talk differently, dress differently, and be nice to those who are harming us.

 

Let’s Talk About Respectability Politics… Part 2

Fuck Your Respectability Politics Banner
Fuck Your Respectability Politics Banner

Why is it a problem?

The biggest issue is that people should be treated like human beings no matter what. They should not have to alter their behavior in order to be taken seriously. If that was the case, our “President” has a lot of work to do. Some more issues include:

  • Do not blame someone’s oppression on them

It’s all very simple. Black Americans aren’t experiencing racism because of their behavior, they’re experiencing it because of white supremacy.

Do you feel like telling people to change to stop being oppressed it okay? If so, you’re drowning in privilege. Find a lifeguard.

Let’s Talk About Respectability Politics… Part 3.

Examples of Respectability Politics

Ms. Sandra Bland
Ms. Sandra Bland

“Maybe she wouldn’t have died if she respected the police officer”

(or maybe she could’ve lived if the police officer was not on a killer.)

Comic
Comic

Don’t argue with police”

(It’s not illegal to argue with police.)

“Keep your hands up”

(They’ll still shoot you if they please.)

“You should always wear a suit and not baggy pants”

(or maybe just maybe, you shouldn’t judge someone by the way they’re dressed)

Example of Respectability Politics
Example of Respectability Politics

NO MATTER WHAT YOU WEAR, YOU ARE STILL A THREAT IN WHITE EYES.

A Love Letter To Myself

btar6g5gc

Since it’s Valentine’s Day and that’s all about loving, cherishing, and appreciating your loved ones, I think I should write a love letter to someone who really needs it…

Dear Me,

You’ve been down on yourself lately and you need a pick me up. So here’s why I love you:

You know when to push yourself and when to take a breather. You can get overwhelmed pretty fast but you know when you can shut down or when you can push through it. That’s a great skill to have when you know you’ve got things to do and especially when all the things you have to do are timed. When you do recharge, you’re good to go!

You’re a great big sister. Your younger sisters are comfortable talking to you and asking for favors. They like having you cook for them and they’re really appreciative of you. Your parents also think you’re a great big sister since they remind you sometimes.

You’re literally the funniest person you know. You can laugh at your own jokes without feeling silly. You can pull yourself out of a sad spell just by making a joke. You might have a unique sense of humor but those who share that with you are fond of it.

You’re smart. You already know this. Look at all that you’ve achieved in your life. Sometimes you think it may not seem like much but it really is! Everyone is so proud of you! You’re almost finished with college too! You already have plans for your next steps! You’re so in control

You can do anything you want. You’re so powerful. Whatever you want to do, you do it. You won’t let no one stop you.You’re a tough girl. Who’s going to go against you? No one because you speak firmly and with confidence. You don’t let anyone get you down. You are the boss.

 

Love, Me

 

I want to challenge everyone to write their own love letter. Write about the things you love about you. Your personality, your talents, your achievements

An Open Letter to the Depressed Black Women: and for those who are suffering from other mental illnesses

Black History Month banner
Black History Month banner

Dear You, Dear Me, Dear us,

I want to start off with, IT IS OKAY. It is okay for you to feel depressed. It’s okay for you to feel constantly anxious. Its okay for you to have OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder. It is okay for you to have eating disorders, autism, and substance related problems. It’s okay for you to feel overwhelmed in life. And your suicidal thoughts come with the distress. Your feelings are valid. You are valid. Do not let anyone tell you that your feelings are invalid because mental illness is “some white people stuff.” Do not let anyone tell you that you aren’t allowed to feel because you have to be a “Strong Black Woman.”

This Strong Black Woman identity that no one asked for, is detrimental to your health. Once you hear that “you gotta be strong and suck it up” speech, you’ll start to keep your feelings to yourself. You’ll feel like your experiences don’t matter. And most importantly, you won’t get the help you need. This Strong Black Woman trope won’t teach you to take care of yourself mentally. But it will teach you to put everyone else’s needs before your own.

This Strong Black Woman guide teaches:

The Strong Black Woman must hold down her Endangered Black man.

The Strong Black Woman has to procreate and then raise her Impressionable Black Children.

The Strong Black Woman has to do right by her Large Black Family.

And the Strong Black Woman must work for the Entitled White Man without anger.

The Strong Black Woman cannot feel,

she cannot put herself first.

She has to wear her hair like this and she has to wear that.

And her Strong Black Body is community property.

If her Strong Black Body was violated, she has to keep it to herself.

If her Strong Black Body was violated, she didn’t follow the rules.

If her Strong Black Body was violated, it was her fault.

All of these rules will become internalized from the moment you learn to talk. You’ll start to feel like you cannot handle it. You might want to give up. .. But I am not writing to you so I can tell you how you should react or to tell you how to live your life. I’m writing to tell you that all of these feelings, experiences-everything. Everything is valid. You are not crazy. You are not just looking for attention. And you are most definitely not making it up. You are not alone. You can find comfort in other Black women.

Black women are tied together all by the same rope made of misogynoir. You are taught that other black women are your competition. I want you to un-learn that. We all have so much in common and when we are not leaning on each other, we are suffering alone. You do not have to suffer alone. I want you to read this letter and go out to the black women in your life and start a candid conversation about the mental health of Black Women.

–Taina E. Morris