All Articles Tagged "angry black woman"
By Ashley Pettaway
A couple weeks ago while sitting in a staff meeting a coworker made a comment that was undeniably offensive. I stared at her blankly trying to find a way to explain to her why what she said was not only ridiculous but also prejudiced. I made sure to check my tone and say things clearly, but as I made my point her reaction was less than satisfactory. I could feel my voice rising and a little voice in my head began to scream, No don’t do it. Do not be the angry Black woman. Of course, I had to be respectful but this voice was different from the usual “keep it professional” mantra I generally live by. This was about a second layer of corporate professionalism we worry about as Black women.
We’ve all had that experience when someone has said something they shouldn’t have and you have to make the decision whether to address or ignore the comment. That little voice in your head that says, “No, don’t be that girl. You don’t want to be the angry Black woman” is an example of stereotype threat. Psychologist Dr. Claude Steele first identified stereotype threat in 1995 as essentially the anxiety that you feel when you fear that you will confirm a negative stereotype. [Source] We mostly talk about this concept in relation to school performances and things of the like, but stereotype threat follows us throughout our lives, in the workplace, and in relationships.
As Black women, we navigate several stereotypes, most notably the angry Black woman and the clingy girlfriend. For some, the fear of confirming these negative stereotypes prevents us from expressing ourselves in times when it’s truly necessary. I get it, you want to put your best foot forward, but at what cost? Let’s be clear, this isn’t about holding your tongue because you know you can’t just go off on whoever you want for looking at you the wrong way. This is about times when you keep silent on important issues simply because you don’t want to be perceived negatively.
Stereotype threat can also influence our behavior in relationships. How often have you said things like, “I’m not like other girls,” to indicate that you’re not clingy or overly sensitive? The problem with this assertion is that it does not allow you any individuality. Being angry, or sensitive, or whatever emotion is part of being human. Women, and especially Black women, do not have the monopoly on these emotions. Trying to avoid them for fear of being negatively stereotyped denies us a part of ourselves.
What are we giving up when we allow these stereotypes to influence our decisions? Of course, some of this is beyond our control. We cannot help the negative stereotypes that folks will place on us, but by stifling ourselves to avoid confirming these stereotypes we are giving away our power. We have to be honest with our coworkers, our loved ones, and most importantly ourselves.
So let’s talk about stereotype threat. Have you ever held your tongue because you didn’t wanted to be seen as a negative stereotype?
When I watched Marrying The Game Monday night, I thought rapper The Game’s fiance, Tiffney Cambridge, was a bit dramatic, but angry black woman never crossed my mind. Personally, I was thinking more Yvette from Baby Boy, but apparently the stereotype crossed Tiffney’s mind and she wants to set the record straight before the accusations start running rampant. In an interview with Sister Sister, she told the mag:
“The [show] caught me at a moment when I was really upset. I think that when we’re upset we all show our frustrations by sometimes yelling or maybe saying a curse word or something like that, but is that a representation of who I am? Am I always loud and cursing and angry Black woman? No, far from it.
“I was just mad, mad, mad at that moment, like we all get,” she said of going off on The Game about traveling out of town with his female assistant, adding, “I definitely will keep him in line.”
That last notion is up for debate considering the rapper not only still went on his trip to France, he also still took his assistant with him. But how The Game responds to Tiffney moving out of the house when he returns is still up in the air.
As for the couple’s image and how it relates to Black America, Tiffney said she’s not worried about receiving any type of backlash like her girls Shaunie O’Neal and Evelyn Lozada of Basketball Wives‘ got last season.
“I don’t have concerns about our show being boycotted or anything like that because there’s nothing inappropriate or offensive there. It’s just a realistic look into our lives,” she said. “I think a lot of the issues and the problems that we have, other people face.”
“I try not to judge people. I think that one of the worst things that you can do is to judge somebody else just by seeing them on television, so I try not to do that. I watch them for entertainment,“ she said. “I don’t watch it as a way to look into someone’s life and then judge it or say what I would do or wouldn’t do because you really never know what’s going on in a person’s life unless you are involved in it.”
Sorry Tiffney, but somebody’s judging you honey — more so for your choice of man, though, than your yelling on TV.
What’s your opinion of The Game’s fiance, Tiffney, so far?
My cousin, Malika*. My ex-bestie, Lorraina*. My sister’s ex-bestie Andrea*. What do all these young women have in common besides their race and the fact that their names end with an “A”? None of them could find it in their hearts to give another sista a straight-shooting compliment. Ever. If they did give out a compliment, it was either prefaced with a smug proclamation like, “I never compliment girls unless they deserve it,” or immediately followed with insults so backhanded that they might as well have kept the compliment to themselves in the first place. And sometimes if someone else is fawning over another young woman’s hair, shoes, pretty face, etc., they would offer the classic, teeth-suck and eye-roll combo followed by, “Yeah, whatever. She ain’t all that.”
None of the above women are unattractive by society’s standards. They are all sufficiently intelligent. So let me state the obvious: They are poster women for one of the most rampantly running diseases that has taken over the U.S. by leaps and bounds: Insecurity.
Now, let me preface this with my own admission. I been that girl (as Melanie Fiona would say), which is why I am qualified to poke, pry at and probe this topic. I know what insecurity looks like from an ugly, raw, up-close-and-personal view. I know what it is to see in someone else all the things I want to be but to secretly loathe them for it. I know what it is to rip apart pieces of other women’s personas and stitch them together to make a costume of what I considered beauty for myself, never realizing I was covering up the beauty in me to take on the beauty of someone else. It never quite fit. It was loose in some places and busting at the seams in others. So, in a subconscious attempt to deflect from my own awkward feelings, I would tear down others. I couldn’t give a compliment to save my own pitiful life. I wanted to find something wrong with everyone else because there was something so severely wrong inside me.
Sick, right? Welp, that’s the way it goes when you have no concept of how to love and accept yourself.
The catalyst that catapulted from that deteriorating state isn’t as complex as you might think. Although, by no means am I knocking therapy, I didn’t need to seek therapy. I didn’t have a “come-to-Jesus”/”Eureka!” moment. The catalyst was simply a series of conversations with myself on paper. I wrote out how I truly felt about anything and everything. That consistent exercise forced me to look at my insides and see all of the things I had been trying to get away from for years with no pretty filters. The funny thing is that no matter how much makeup you pile on, no matter how many fly outfits you don, no matter how many hot pictures you take – if you don’t love yourself, it will eventually show.
It started to show for me. I was snapping at people, looking for reasons to dislike even the most amazing young women. My friends and I were considered the “Mean Girls.” The crazy thing is that once I realized that people HATED me and who I had become, it hurt me so badly. But instead of deflecting and projecting, as I was SO used to doing, I started getting real with myself. That changed the game for me and ultimately thrust my ex-bestie and me apart and into two very different paths in life. I wanted to engage my higher nature. I wasn’t content to keep such a bitter outlook on life because of the bitterness I felt inside. So, I started getting to know the people I had once loathed. And just as my higher nature had first suspected, but my lower nature was quick to shun: They were beautiful souls. Some of the women who have made the biggest impact on my life were the ones I couldn’t stand and refused to say anything decent to in the beginning. Funny how life works, huh?
So, I can recognize insecurity in females when I see it, most especially in black women. We don’t have to feed into the stereotypical “Angry-Black-Woman” caricature, but too often we absolutely do. Too often, we allow ourselves to slip into the abyss of self-dissatisfaction, sometimes never to return. We will sit and talk smack about another young woman who is just going on about her business, enjoying a FREE life – a concept we can’t fathom because we’re too enslaved to our own insecurities. We’re shackled by our self-identified “flaws” when, in all honesty they could be sparkling gems of character if we would just learn how to be free in who we are. Another woman’s beauty, intelligence, raw style, sense of humor, gift of gab or overflowing purse of talent is not a THREAT to our own. We all have a lane in which no one else can cruise in as effectively and as coolly as we can. Affirming each other is not an admission of personal defeat or inferiority.
Now, if I am digging another sista’s personality, shoe game, hair or intelligence, I let her know and more often than not, we dig into each other and become great acquaintances, sometimes even close friends. Giving props where they are due never takes away shine from you, it only ever adds to your glow. Hopefully Malika, Lorraina and Andrea will learn how to get their shine on much sooner than later.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change. Her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and her Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.
In a random internet search I came across a clip about MSNBC host Tamron Hall having an altercation with one of her guests, Tim Carney, and I got a little nervous. Some headlines said she had an on-air tantrum, she shut the conservative commentator down, she talked him off the show, etc., and I clenched at what might have happened. You know we only have to look at somebody a certain way to get that angry black woman labeled slapped on us quickly and I just knew it was coming this time, but not with Tamron.
I’ll admit I had to watch the clip a couple of times to figure out exactly what was going on—more so what set the reporter off so quickly, but it was actually right at the beginning of the discussion. Tim accused her of pulling a “typical media trick” when she questioned him, not about Mitt Romney’s past—particularly some bullying incidents in question—but about how he thought the presidential hopeful’s camp was handling the accusations, and as you can guess from the title of the article, we never got that answer. As soon as the words, “You hype up a story and justify the second-day coverage of the story,” slipped from Tim’s lips, Tamron was done. Immediately, she politely, yet sternly reminded Tim:
“You don’t have to answer a single question I ask you, and you didn’t have to accept the invitation to come on,” she told him.
“Your actions are irritating me right now. You are not going to come on and insult me, you are not going to come on and insult the network, when you knew what we were going to be talking about. Done.”
And just like that, Tim’s mic was cut and his time on News Nation was no more. I will say I got a little antsy when Tamron said his actions were irritating her because I thought, well, that’s not exactly an appropriate reason to kick someone off of your show. However, being insulted as a journalist is, and that’s what Tamron said she was taking a stand for—and amazingly, the public agrees. I just knew when I scrolled down to the comments section of the first article I read the racists Internet thugs would be going in but they weren’t there. Instead, there were comments like, “what a classic lady,” “you go, girl” (you know folks can’t wait to use that phrase), and even statements of people being proud of her and that she’d garnered another viewer.
This isn’t just an isolated incident a few people noticed either, the clip has gone viral and was even trending on Twitter. What’s amazing is Viewers were standing up for her against this white man, calling her a “bada**” and even a “hero.” You know it’s not every day we hear that word associated with a black woman.
Now I know some of this can be chalked up to most of the nation’s frustrations with the right wing but I think Tamron deserves some credit too. Neck rolling, eye rolling, attitudes, all of those things are expected of black women when things get hot. If they can accuse Michelle Obama of being an angry black woman when I don’t think we’ve so much as seen her frown since she entered the White House, how much quicker would they be to say the same in a situation like this? But not today. Tamron proved she can play white people’s game—Fox stays kicking people off the air—and keep her dignity and professional integrity too and I’m just proud to be in a world she’s living in and that didn’t go the prejudice route when they saw her stand her ground. This is how most black women handle conflict and there were a whole lot of people who needed to see this to know that.
Check out the clip of the altercation below. How do you think Tamron handled herself?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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In a few weeks NBC will debut a new sitcom titled “Best Friends Forever.” The comedy is the brainchild of real-life best friends Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, and it follows the story of Jess moving back in with her BFF Lennon and her boyfriend, after her husband files for divorce. Despite the fact that the trailer for the show is pretty funny, this isn’t a sitcom I normally would’ve paid attention to if it wasn’t for its sole black character, a 9-year-old girl named Queenetta.
If the name alone doesn’t tell you enough about who this little girl is, allow me. She’s the too grown for her age, neck- and eye-rolling, keep white people in check, sassy black neighbor of the friends—essentially every stereotype we hate about black women rolled into one cute little underage girl. And despite the fact that the show hasn’t even debuted yet, people are already going in pretty hard on Daija Owens’ character, the show’s creators, NBC, and even Daija’s mom for letting her portray this role.
Now I won’t lie, I laughed pretty hard at the trailer when Quenetta quoted a line from Drake’s “Oh you fancy huh” with Lennon outside of their apartment building, but then I stopped. For one, I don’t like sassy, smart-mouthed little kids in any shade. But I also know the thought process that went into the development of this character, because after all, how could we grow up to be angry black women if we weren’t hand-on-the-hip-holding, tell-it-like-it-is little black girls first?
Shamika Sanders of Hello Beautiful literally asked, WTF is Wrong with NBC, as she wrote:
“All this show does is prove that there can’t be a central character in a major production without he or she falling subject to a company’s lack of sensitivity and limited scope of black people.”
Rebecca Theodore-Vachon of The Urban Daily noted that black characters have pretty much been dead on NBC since the Cosby’s, writing:
“While it is commendable that the show is giving work to an obviously adorable little girl, there’s no denying the stereotypical eye rolling and ‘sass’ factor on display here.”
Amongst the slew of backlash the character is already receiving, there is one aspect people have to keep in mind, and that’s the fact that this show is a comedy. Characters are exaggerated, stereotypes are harped upon, and prejudices are exposed for the sake of laughter. It’s clear that’s what’s going on when you name a little girl Queenetta, but it’s also unfortunate that that’s still the only type of character sitcoms think to write for a black actress. I can picture the writers in a brainstorming session thinking, “wouldn’t it be so funny to get a little black girl with an attitude to smack her lips and be like ‘uh huh girl, you know,’ and say all that stuff that’s not funny when white women do it but is hilarious when it comes from a black girl?” What’s interesting is that from interviews I’ve seen of Daija, her real personality seems nothing like the character in the show, which is typically the case and always makes me wonder, why when there are countless examples of black girls who don’t fit the angry, ghetto stereotype do we still get reduced to these roles?
I think the success and depth of backlash against the show will depend on just how exaggerated they choose to make this little girl and whether they introduce any other black characters to balance our representation on the network. Like where is this little girl’s mother and why is she always with her neighbors? Of course, that’s nowhere near the focus of the network, especially for a non-primary black character, so what we see now is most likely what we’ll get all throughout the season. Let’s see how this goes.
Check out Queenetta’s character in the trailer below. Do you think her role will be problematic or is this just for laughs?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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I don’t know where President Obama’s current approval rating stands, but I know my approval of the first lady just shot through the roof. Where Obama refuses to acknowledge the racism that underpins so many comments, voting choices, and actions set out against him, Michelle Obama just puts it out there plain and simple.
Speaking about New York Time’s reporter Jodi Kantor’s new book, The Obamas, Gayle King asks Mrs. Obama about her portrayal in the book as angry, unhappy, burdened, and frustrated by her position as first lady on “CBS This Morning.” Michelle Obama responds:
“That’s been an image people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I’m some kind of angry black woman.”
It’s an image people try to paint on black women as a whole all the time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t white, Asian, Latina, Indian, and all women feel angry, unhappy, burdened, or frustrated at some point in their lives? Don’t these women express that anger, unhappiness, and frustration? Don’t people often sympathize with their anger, unhappiness, and frustration? Why are those feelings suddenly grouped together as a permanent temperamental disposition to describe black women when we express those same emotions?
Offering a response that any mother in America can identify with, the first lady says:
“If there’s any anxiety that I feel, it’s because I want to make sure that my girls come out of this on the other end whole.”
“I just try to be me. … There will always be people who don’t like me.” But, she says, “Who can tell me how I feel?”
Michelle Obama is absolutely right. It’s no secret that society loves to limit black women’s expression. That limitation includes positive feelings of love, happiness, comfort with our bodies, and even sexual liberation, but we’re especially critiqued for sharing negative emotions, no matter how diplomatic we come across and how legitimate our concerns. I can recall incidents with a previous employer where I’d defended myself against false allegations and in doing so was told I was unprofessional, argumentative, and disrespectful—words no one had ever used to describe me, because quite frankly, I’m often more passive aggressive than I should be. When I reflected back on the situation, it was clear that the authority figures took any sort of attempt from a black woman at protecting one’s reputation or standing up for oneself as aggression or a personal affront. Yet, when I would point out the tone in which I was being spoken to by white women, I was asked whether the issue was my perception.
Even in romantic relationships, the first time a black woman raises a concern or issue, you can almost see the “great, I’ve got another angry black woman on my hands” thought bubble circling above the man’s head, if he isn’t so bold as to just go ahead and let those words come out of his mouth. There is an entire spectrum of emotions that grow in intensity from disappointment, to frustration, to full blown anger. Why is it always assumed any time we say something someone may not want to hear, our emotions are on 10?
How come a black woman can’t express feelings of frustration, hurt and even disappointment without the fear of being labeled bitter or having an attitude?
Seriously, the stereotypes of Black women and their so-called anger or bitterness are so pervasive that anytime a sista acts out in a way that’s seen as aggressive, she gets attacked by everyone including the white mainstream, Black men and other Black women. Sadly, we have become so accustomed to the bitter Black woman” meme that we even have internalized it as true, although research has proven otherwise. Nevertheless if I see one more person flippantly dismiss the emotional angst of a black woman by saying, “oh she’s just bitter,” I will scream -but not too loud because than folks will assume that I have an attitude problem.
Take for instance Janet Hubert, actress who is best known as the first Aunt Vivian on the hit TV series Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Recently she was asked why she had been missing from the picture of her former cast members at a reunion dinner, which had been posted on Will Smith’s Facebook page and ultimately started rumors of a “Fresh Prince” reunion, she said: “There will never be a reunion … as I will never do anything with an a**hole like Will Smith,” the actress told TMZ this weekend. “He is still an egomaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, which he doesn’t know the word.” Ouch, that’s kind of harsh.
Once news spread of Hubert’s reaction to the question of a reunion, folk were quick to judge and without much pause, concluded that Hubert is holding on to a grudge. To me it was an honest answer to an honestly invasive question. I mean, what else was she suppose to say? “I was busy,” or “I was washing my hair,” or some other lie to appear graceful to the fickle masses? The same folks wanting her to move on are probably the same folks, who wonder why she wasn’t at the reunion dinner. She told her truth and what is wrong with that?
If you recall, Hubert didn’t leave the show on good terms. As the original Aunt Vivian, Hubert, who was pregnant during the series’ third season sued Will Smith and NBC for breach of contract for offering her a new contract with less air time and less money. After the unsuccessful lawsuit and refusing to sign the new contract, Hubert was replaced on the show by Daphne Reid.
And just like that, the first Aunt Vivian vanished into obscurity, never to be seen – or even thought about – by the public again until last year, when she wrote the book about her experience as a TV Mom. In an interview about the book with BlackAmericaWeb, Hubert said that she was subjected to verbal and mental abuse on the set, hypocrisy, excessive egoism, blatant resentment, racial jokes at the hands of a young Smith. According to Hubert, “I was a dark-skinned, African-American mother, and Will used to tell the you’re-so-black jokes to the audience before the show, and at one point, I came out and stopped him, and the audience went ‘Woooo,’” she remembered. “He didn’t understand how unbelievably disrespectful that was to women like me… ‘Yo mama’s so black, when she looks at her shoes, she thinks she’s looking in the mirror. Ha, ha!’”
It has to be a hard thing for viewers to separate the relationships that actors have on screen with their real life relationships and turmoil back stage, but it happens. Like when John Amos (James Evans Sr.) was fired from the hit series Good Times, he was accused by the show’s producer Norman Lear of being a “disruptive factor.” Of course, Amos would say differently and said countless times that he had been fired because he objected to the negative stereotypes of African Americans that the show constantly presented including the increasing buffooneries of fellow cast mate Jimmie Walker (James Evans Jr.). When Amos sought to clarify rumors and assert his position on his overall feelings about the direction of the show and his fellow cast mate no one accuses him of being a bitter or an angry Black man. We understood it. So why can’t we give Hubert the same benefit of the doubt?
In a previous editorial, Hubert sought to challenge the angry Black woman image she was receiving by recounting candidly what it’s like growing up in a world that constantly subjugates you. “While growing up, only the lighter skinned black women were considered beautiful. The sad thing is that today those standards of beauty are still in effect. I think a better description would be the politics of beauty. I am making the references of physical beauty to make a better point in pursuit of the angry black woman theory. We don’t say the angry light-skinned woman, do we? That in itself is enough to piss me off, so am I angry yet… not quite.”
I think that as Black women we have been so conditioned to being treated with less dignity and having our personal contributions undervalued, that we honestly feel that it is our place to always “just deal” with our emotional well-being without complaining. We readily accept that Black men are targets by racist institutions since slavery and tossed away by society as degenerates and sub humans. However when it comes to understanding how black women are also the targets of those same racist paradigms, and carry the weight of gender oppression on our shoulders, we would rather see a woman suppress those intense angry feelings. After all, being angry is just not considered lady-like.
Putting myself in Hubert’s shoes, I can imagine the stress that might occur every time someone mentions what she perceives as one of the most single traumatic moments of her career. I mean, if I had gotten fired from a job because of some strife with the boss and/or coworker, and they try to invite me to the company’s reunion party that included all the people you had strife with, I would be like, “F that. And here is why” too. I wouldn’t care if it is the Fresh Prince or the Fresh Grocers (supermarket), if it bugs me, I’m going to speak on it.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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Dating at any age can be a challenge if you don’t know the ‘rules’ and how to make the most out of each experience. Meeting men in your twenties is an entirely different ball game than when you are in your 30’s. Your actions and priorities are often different, hence making your perspective like night and day. If Sex and the City taught us anything it’s that dating in your 30’s can be as bad as day old sushi or just as fun and exciting as a trip to Paris, you just have to roll with the punches.
But there is something to be said about some of the pitfalls many women in their 30’s make when dating. It’s like when the big 3-0 hits single ladies forget what the definition of dating really means – the act of getting to know someone, and make these seven common mistakes…
If you were paying attention to the Super Bowl ads last night, one of them may have caught your attention. Pepsi sucked us in with one ad featuring an African American husband and wife. Check out the commercial below:
If you didn’t laugh at that one…check your pulse. Pepsi did a good job. But this morning, Boyce Watkins wrote a piece for Black Voices questioning whether the ad further perpetuates the “angry black woman” stereotype and makes light of the very serious issue of domestic violence. After watching the commercial, do you think Pepsi played on stereotypes to make a few (million) dollars? Or does the ad send an accurate message about female/male relationship dynamics in a humorous way?
Months ago, I was having dinner and conversation with a few male and female friends and acquaintances. We were discussing relationships and issues among black men and black women. And while the conversation was initially relatively low key, one of my guy friends decided that it would be a great idea to put on what he described as “ a really good movie.” The movie was “Diary of a Tired Black man.” And within the span of a few minutes and few scenes of the movie, he turned our discussion on relationships into an outright battle of the sexes.