Question: "Why Are Black Women So Mad?"
Just stop with the stereotypes. Black women are misunderstood. We are harmed by your biased and distorted views about us. In this blog, I am going to challenge and debunk this stereotype to promote understanding, respect, and equality.
I knew this question would come at some point. I mean, ask me because I speak for all Black women, correct? Seriously, I know you are asking because I am in the field of psychology and also a black woman. I get it. The cool thing about me is that you can ask me and I am going to tell you an answer. Yes, we do get mad but so do you. Some of you view black women's emotions differently than you do your own which is unfair and inaccurate.
Do not assume that all black women are mad or angry. Just like any other group of individuals, black women are diverse and have a wide range of emotions, experiences, and perspectives. Stereotypes about black women have been a central factor in our exhaustion. Have you ever walked into a room of people without anyone speaking to you? Then, you find out once they are comfortable that they did not initially say anything to you because,
"I thought you would be mean"
"I did not realize you were that intelligent"
"I was waiting on you to go off on someone"
Or, they speak to you in a stereotypical tone and dialect assuming that you speak in a specific type of language? My friends and I always respond, "We don't speak that way" and correct that behavior. Many of you assume that we are angry when most of us are just plain 'ole tired. Black women are subject to harmful stereotypes and objectification, which can affect our self-esteem and relationships. These stereotypes lead to dehumanization and dismissive attitudes causing emotional exhaustion.
The phrase "black women are tired" is often used metaphorically to express the cumulative exhaustion and emotional burden experienced by many black women as they navigate various intersecting forms of oppression and systemic inequalities. It highlights the unique challenges and burdens faced by black women and the toll it can take on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Stereotypes about us do not help. It does not acknowledge our experiences. It does not validate our feelings. It does not dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate these inequalities. In fact, it increases generalizations and stereotypes which causes added stress and fatigue.
Early on in our lives, we learn to deal with intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization based on race and gender. For example, imagine being 16-years-old and being told by black and white people,
Think that is a lot of pressure for a young black girl? You are correct. Those conversations were ongoing throughout my life, including while I was earning my doctorate degree,
"I was hard on you because I never want anyone to question your clinical competency"
For the record... no one has questioned it...
The white professors who trained me predicted what I would go through within my career. They understood long before I knew, and prepared me well to face adversity. To add, for longer than 16 years at the time when I graduated, I was reminded of why the world would mistreat me due to being a black woman.
The mistreatment of black women is rooted in complex historical, social, and systemic factors that have perpetuated racism, sexism, and various forms of discrimination. It is important to recognize that the mistreatment of black women is not universal or experienced by all black women, but it does occur in various contexts and can have significant consequences.
Want to ask me again why I may not always smile? Or, why some black women wear a poker-face to work? It's because we have to and you need to stop stereotyping us for it. Ask a black women her story. When you do and hear about her experiences, I guarantee you will frown too. It does not mean a negative past or current life, but one fueled with constant reminders that we are black and women. Given everything that we go through, being a black woman should be treasured but instead, our efforts can be invisible within OUR society.
You all get on our nerves!
We feel as if we always have to work harder than everyone else. You will not win an argument with me on this one. This is ALWAYS the case. No wonder we frown sometimes. On top of it all, we encounter racism and discrimination in a variety of aspects within our lives including education, employment, healthcare, and the criminal justice system. We often bear the burden of emotional labor, which includes managing and navigating racialized and gendered expectations, biases, and microaggressions. Oh so many microaggressions. The additional responsibility of educating and advocating for ourselves can be emotionally taxing. Many black women often assume multiple caregiving roles within our families and communities and we get limited support and recognition for our efforts. Often we are undervalued, underrecognized, and overlooked.
Some avoid admitting that systemic racism exists or they ignore it. It does not just happen in corporations, but in other areas (i.e., exams, schools, and politics). Acknowledge that systemic racism, discrimination, and social inequalities have historically and continue to disproportionately affect black women. These factors can contribute to frustration, anger, and a sense of injustice. The sad part is that many of you are aware of racial injustices toward black women, yet you support it by being silent.
Similar to a vast majority of black women, I too, have been the victim of systemic racism multiple times. I still experience it and some of it will remain with me for the rest of my life. A former employer of mine told me,
"I've never hired a black person before, I don't know what to do with you"
Yes, I am serious. I did not slap her. I wanted to, but kept my composure. You see, some claim to want to diversify in their companies, but put in zero support systems to help once they hire black women. Instead, they default to the victim role as this women did and of course I resigned. #screwher
This type of behavior is not fair toward Black women. We face societal expectations that place a heavy burden on us to fulfill various roles and responsibilities which can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Though some may try, we cannot erase American history. Historically, slavery, colonialism, and ongoing systemic racism has had a lasting impact on the mistreatment of black women. It has contributed to the perpetuation of stereotypes, economic inequalities, limited access to resources and opportunities, and unequal treatment within various institutions. As a result, black women can face limited access to resources, including emotional support, healthcare, and financial stability. The absence of adequate support systems can place additional strain on our well-being.
Now replace, "Why are black women so angry" with "How may I help you today? A little 4-year-old said to me at the right time,
"What can I do to help you?"
Which made my eyes water. Simple acts of kindness not only help us, but help you as well. Even if that person does not show you gratitude, you will feel better knowing that you offered to help. We need to keep having these conversations about race, gender, and emotions with empathy and an understanding that each person's experiences and emotions are unique. Engaging in open and respectful dialogue can help foster understanding and address issues related to social injustice, inequality, and systemic biases.