The perception of black females as angry and negative is rooted in the cocktail of racism and sexism served to them on a daily basis.
Black females are one of the most ostracized groups in America. Having the double minority status of being both black and a woman typically equates to many unfortunate circumstances. Black women are often slapped with the stereotype of being angry. This stereotype is so prevalent it greatly affects black females day-to-day.
The awareness that this perception exists is a dark cloud that seeps into every aspect of what I do and how I carry myself. I even find myself carefully rereading every word and making sure my passion does not come off as rage while writing this column about a subject I personally identify with and am passionate about.
What it means to be black in America typically depends on the person being asked, but there are certain experiences many black women share. The anger that is often associated with black women stems from these experiences.
The thing is, black women are angry for a reason. We are angry because it often feels as if there is no room for us in this society. We are angry because being told “you are cute for a black girl” is supposed to be a compliment. We are angry because somehow white women’s feminism became different from black women’s feminism. We are angry because the difference between a woman who does not take crap from anyone and a woman who is needlessly aggressive is somehow lost when you are a black female.
Stamping the angry label on every black female is incredibly damaging. Suddenly, almost every action I take will be perceived as irrational anger. Having that perception stain your being day in and day out is a heavy weight to bear. And the fact that, no matter what I do, I can never avoid the stereotypes attached to being a black female makes things even heavier.
Two boys at my high school were my first introduction to the world of being an “angry” black woman. They would antagonize and irritate me until I got angry enough to respond, and then would follow me down the hallway yelling “10! 10! 10!” I did not understand what that meant until one day my friend finally explained to me that 10 was the highest level on the angry black girl meter they had made for me.
This realization took a severe toll on me. I was an angry kid growing up, but because of the stereotype, I always took care to show my sunniest disposition as often as possible. Hearing those boys yell “10” at me down the hallway every week felt like betrayal and despair all at once. All I had done was tell them to leave me alone, and here they were mocking me and labeling me as angry, an adjective I had taken care to avoid. Learning that lesson was revealing and damaging in a way I will never forget.
I am not alone in my experiences. Shared experiences like mine are the reason why black women often wear their anger like armor. Once the soul has been tainted with enough negative experiences, anger can be a good tool to keep more negativity from worming its way in.
Being a black woman in America means it is important to pick your battles, even though we should not have to. Almost like a negative version of King Midas, anything we touch turns to anger.