Angry Black Woman: The Myth and The Mockery -Part 2

Part 1 set the scene and provided some background about the AWB stereotype. Now, I will be putting the record straight by critically examining each factor that has created this Frankenstein type depiction of black women- aggressive, loud, quick-tempered, sexually and financially driven.

Part2-DebunktheFunk

Black women are labelled as aggressive and hostile, whereas Latin women are described as hot-blooded or passionate. In my own opinion, the reason for this is to emasculate black men so that they would be deemed as less of a threat to white men- in this instance, slave owners. In the process, black women are also stripped of their feminity and dehumanised- devolved to be seen as animalistic and not in control of our basic urges.

This is supported by how black women have been portrayed in the media since the 1930s, which has wormed its way into how wider society shows us and has prevented black women from being treated fairly and equally.

1. Aggression and Violence

During my teenage years, I was very short-tempered and have had many violent episodes. Without going into so many details, I had a lot of things raging inside of me. Luckily, I have been able to grow out of that phase and put the dragon to sleep. I am sure that many adults, regardless of race or gender, have experienced something similar. However, there is total disregard that black women tend to be the victims of violence more than the aggressor. According to a report published last year, 18% of African American women would be victims of a sexual assault at least once in their lifetime. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be victims of physical and domestic abuse BUT less likely to report it. What doesn’t encourage victims to report crime is the American judicial system. On rare occasions when a victim involves law enforcement, the sentence is higher for a black perpetrator than if the perpetrator were white. Considering that there is already an assumption that black women are hypersexualised and not to forget that within the black community, there is a wall of silence, which prevents crimes from being reported. So, not only are we unsupported by law enforcement but even within certain parts of the black community. In the UK, 3.7% of black people report domestic abuse compared to other ethnicities, but the data shown is just the tip of the iceberg due to the same wall of silence.

Without even looking at more data, we are already aware of the disproportionate number of black people in prison in the UK and the USA. More black women are incarcerated than white women in both countries but less likely for non-violent crimes. It’s safe to say that black women are the victim of both circumstances and the judicial system. I think the labels of being aggressive and violent are unjustified.

2. Hyper-sexualisation

Annalisa D Matthew wrote an article in 2018 titled ‘The Hyper-sexualisation of black women in the media. From what I understand from the article and my own experience, this links back to how black women are dehumanised by portraying us as animalistic, uncivilised, and incapable of controlling our sexual urges. It seems like sexual freedom and sex appeal are luxuries only afforded by white women, yet those same ‘luxuries’ are used to judge black women. As Tyra Banks said in an interview:

“Black women have always been these vixens, these animalistic erotic women, why can’t we just be the sexy American girl next door?” (Transgiot 2006)

Without going into too much about my colourful online dating experience, I have noticed how quickly a compliment about a picture of me in a dress can soon transform into comments about the fullness of my lips and fellatio (you can fill in the blanks). Most of these men would be too scared even to say hello if they saw me in a bar in real life. So, where does this notion of black women being overly sexual beings come from? Not from us-in fact, even within our community, the topic of sex is still beyond comprehension. For some black female friends, sex wasn’t discussed, and when it was, it was seen as a dirty act or, even worse, used as a tool to slut-shame other girls. Again, the hyper sexualisation of black women is another way of emphasising how different we are to white people, especially white women and a ‘polite society. On a personal level, some men resort to slut-shaming to hide the fact that they are intimidated by a woman’s carnal knowledge, which surpasses their own.

4. Financial Appeal

I have come across only one piece of research carried out in 2011. The findings showed that 21% of African American women would consider starting a relationship with someone based on their finances- this is twice the amount compared to white women. A factor that is overlooked is black females are the most disadvantaged in terms of the pay gap. A recent study done by LSE found that black women in the UK are least likely to be amongst the top earners, whereas 1% of white women are. In the USA, Leanin reported that black women earn 21% less than white women. At the same time, a high proportion of black women tend to be the primary breadwinner- this was the case for not only my mother but also my grandmother and the same in many other black females I know. But these role models taught me how to be financially independent. I’m aware that black women, particularly in hip hop, rap about wanting a man with money, but we equally rap about having our own money and being independent. In my opinion, it makes logical sense to expect a potential partner to have their own money.

In conclusion, the foundation on which the ABW stereotype is based is weak as it is based on assumptions and not on facts. The sad part is that it shows that black women are disadvantaged on so many levels and that these factors have created another problem that black women are starting to raise awareness about- mental health.

As black women, we are told that we must be strong, and due to the lack of support, we have no other choice but to persevere. It may look like we are superwomen and that we keep calm and carry on to the outside world. This is a textbook example of Strong Black Woman Syndrome. The notion of seeking help from a professional is discouraged within the black community and instead suppress our emotions and in some cases, burying trauma is normalised. There is a correlation between the low number of black people in therapy or some form of psychotherapy and the high number of black people who have a mental illness. What’s more upsetting is that black people are four times more likely to attempt to end their lives than any other race, yet according to Worldatlas.com, 73% of serial killers in the US are white vs 22% black- THE IRONY.

BUT we have not been taking this BS lying down- OH NO NO NO. Black women have been pushing back against the negative narrative and have started to create their own. This story has a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

This has been the most challenging blog that I have written to date for several reasons. Mainly the amount of information that needs to be covered for starters, but more importantly, I want to make sure that this is not seen as a rant. I want to make sure that whoever reads this comes away with an understanding of how it feels to be a black woman living under the shade of this stereotype.

Please note, I am not an academic, so my interpretation of the research that I refer to is based on my own personal experiences. Also, I am speaking for myself and not as a spokesperson for all black women.

Article written by Creta James

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