Black Mental Health, Featured Category

The Angry Black Woman

August 14, 2019
Black woman with afro hairstyle

Photo credit: Derek Torsani/Unsplash

 

The stereotype of  “the angry black woman” has inspired many GIFs and quotes that only serve to perpetuate the stereotype and show how deeply embedded it is in the fabric of the American society and other communities.

Black women threaten the fabric of society. Labels are used to strip us of our power and beauty. Click To Tweet

 

Is Anger A Bad Emotion?

But let’s break this down…Is anger a bad emotion? No, it is not…

Anger is a normal human emotion. It is a part of the human experience. Society has already taught us that when we are uncomfortable with things, we should try our best to isolate it and put it in a tightly closed box.  The fact is that…Black women threaten society. Yes, I truly believe that we do. The description of the phrase “The Angry Black Woman” is only used to restrict us, label us, and place us in boxes that remove our internal power.  This is a powerful statement because black women have so much power; but sometimes, we tend to misuse it and sometimes we let others turn it against us.

Black Womanhood

Black women do not fit into most of the narratives that exist and so there are those who then try to box us in so that they don’t have to try and understand. The narrative of “womanhood” minimizes the strength it requires to be a black woman, and mostly relates to the mainstream narrative accepted in society which is that of a “white woman” as white women have always been and still remains the example of perfect womanhood.

 

                  Do You Feel Validated?

How Validated Do You Feel By Women of Other Minority Cultures?

Although women of color should stick together, many other cultures do their best to separate themselves from black women, especially with the negative stereotypes and attention that are attributed to us. This leaves black women isolated, invisible, and misunderstood which are all feelings that contribute to the protective feeling of anger.

These are just some of the feelings that exist in present time. They do not examine the social and cultural hurts and stressors that make up the fabric of the black woman’s life and experiences, such as generational trauma, poverty, lack of resources, single parenthood, cultural appropriation, abuse, etc. So, are black women angry…I’d say yes, and I’d also say that black women have a lot to be angry about.

 

Black Women and Anger

Have you ever been called “The Angry Black Woman?”

But, anger is not a bad emotion. It is a normal part of the human experience. But anger is a secondary emotion. This means that it is protective and covers the hurts lying dormant below it.

Most of us have only been taught that we have to work, 2 x or 3 x (depending on how many minority identities you have) as hard as our white counterparts.

How many black women have been taught to discuss their emotions and how to cope with them? Click To Tweet

 

                   The Conditioning of Black Women…

Black women have been conditioned that to show emotion is to show weakness. Because of the heavy work ethic, claim to strength, ever-present shoulder load, and lack of resources available to many black women, the lessons that were taught for specific situations have become widespread and mainstream across all areas of our lives and this leaves us exhausted, tense, ever-poised for fights to defend ourselves, and with no days off.

All these symptoms combine to leave us burnout – a term that may be unfamiliar to many of us – but remains true nonetheless. It is not healthy or safe to live in flight-or-fight mode which many explain why the health of black women is deteriorating.

 

Historical Views On Mental Health

And many of us have been shamed into thinking that if our ancestors endured slavery, then who are you to complain about feeling sad, mad, or hurt? This is a pressure point that is sorely reiterated in the US social construct.

 

As I have told some of my black female clients, it is not that the slaves did not experience mental health problems, they had other concerns.

  • First off, their physiological needs and safety would have been their main focus.
  • Second, who would have listened to what they needed?
  • And thirdly, mental health is a relatively new phenomenon; let’s not forget that people who experienced mental illnesses were thought to be possessed or losing their minds.

 

In addition, would slaves have had any access to mental health care? We tend to generalize information rather than put it in context. Mental health is a daily practice, it is not synonymous with mental disorders.

People who were being starved, beaten, raped, assaulted, torched, among other vicious things would surely surpass the requirement for mental disorders. So, this excuse that we use to not care for ourselves is not acceptable. So, we sometimes misuse our power because we find excuses to not care for ourselves.

Black Women & Power

 The label “The Angry Black Woman” takes away a black woman’s power.

We allow others to use labels, like these, against us. We allow others to perpetuate the myth of the angry black woman by behaving as these stereotypes in movies and television shows, and we behave like this in our homes and our children, who then carry on the generational stereotype. We allow our men to speak to us and disrespect us in their songs, videos, and relationships, and then we get upset about the way they treat us.

We neglect our own power because we are the gatekeepers for ourselves. How we allow others to treat us is how they will treat us. How we treat ourselves is how others will treat us. We miss the important signs of healthy boundaries, relationships, and self-care.

 

We allow our men to speak to us and disrespect us in their songs, videos, and relationships, and then we get upset about the way they treat us. Click To Tweet

 

Living with perpetual anger is exhausting, painful, and harmful. Living in perpetual flight or fight mode will kill us. Allowing others to dictate our behaviors, thoughts, and destinies continues to give our power away.

Taking control of our own narrative is the only way to make changes that is personal, achievable, and meaningful. Let’s focus on not just being angry black women, but on using our anger in constructive ways to effect changes in our communities.

 

Get to work…

So, are you angry?

If so, what are you angry about? How can you deal with your anger?

Download the free anger and angry black woman worksheet if you’re ready to make some changes in your life.

Download “Free Angry Black Woman Worksheet” GMP-Angry-Black-Woman-Worksheet-2.docx – Downloaded 30 times – 154 KB

Download “Free Anger Worksheet.docx” GMP-Anger-Worksheet-2.docx – Downloaded 37 times – 146 KB

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