In the wake of black positivity, acceptance and awareness, we’ve become accustomed to calling out problematic vines, videos and memes that perpetuate the stereotype of the angry black women. This woman is most likely dark skinned, with a substandard weave and most likely overweight. Lest we not forget the rise and fall of black people who love chicken, watermelon and adding far too much sugar into KoolAid.
While we now, as black people and women, are prepared to acknowledge the blatant racism hidden as comedy that arises from these memes, we seem to have shunned the “stereotype” of the black woman. A stereotype is defined as “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing” and for us, this is being loud, angry and aggressive and many other “negative” attributes. But is it really that bad to be loud? To be angry? To be aggressive?
No. It’s not. In the process of classifying that not all black women possess these characteristics, we’ve now put these words through the gruelling process of perjoration, so anyone who harbours these qualities may either be too afraid to exhibit them or is ostracised for these qualities. Even I, in all my black love, acceptance and confidence, refrain from getting too excited about a subject because I’m so afraid I’ll be blacklisted by my peers for perpetuating a stereotype. I avoid altercations that would ultimately end negatively for fear people would deem me aggressive. As I write, I’m reminded of the time my brother had a fight with a boy in school, and after school, the boy told his older sister what had happened. Following this, the girl had then smacked my brother across the face. I remember telling her “I’m giving you one chance to apologise”, acting as a warning, and she proceeded to push me. I remember pushing her back (although, to this day, I’m pretty sure she extended the fall to appear more fragile) leaving her on her bum, absolutely mortified. There had been adults that had been watching this altercation that hadn’t intervened up until the point I pushed her, restraining me as if I was a rabid animal ready to pounce, but for what reason? I pushed the girl and walked away. But I also remember being the only one was called up on it, setting a negative image for the school. I’d have to consider other factors at play here, such as institutional racism, but if I went into that, we’d be here all day.
My point is, I was raised to think the black woman stereotype was wrong. That I couldn’t be loud, angry and aggressive, and instead, through socialisation and fear, I’ve become passive, a “pushover” and being told to “repeat myself in class” because I’m so quiet. And that’s not fair. I shouldn’t be so afraid of society that I can’t be myself. I can’t be loud and speak up for what I believe in, I can’t be angry about the injustices I’ve faced as a black Muslim woman, I can’t be aggressive when I’m in situations where I have to fight for myself. These qualities aren’t bad. They aren’t something to be ashamed of, and in all honesty, I hate the fact that I’ve spent so long believing they were wrong, despite writing this, I’m probably going to revert back to being quiet, a “pushover” and passive because I’m still so afraid of the consequences of having this power as a black woman.
We, as black women, should not be afraid to live up to our stereotype. Why? Because, the stereotype isn’t bad, it never has been, we’ve just grown to believe that because the only time we see this stereotype is when it’s being ridiculed. We are black women, we are strong, and it doesn’t matter if we add too much sugar into our KoolAid, whether or not we like watermelon and it sure as hell doesn’t matter if we are loud, angry or aggressive, because that doesn’t make us any weaker. So be loud. Be angry. Be aggressive. Just be you. And that, I can assure you is the best thing to be.
Written by Samiha Slim