Its not easy being a Black woman who believes in something strongly and isn’t afraid to convey it. Every time we stand up for ourselves, express an opinion or have a viewpoint that makes some uncomfortable, we’re deemed “angry,” “hostile,” or my personal favorite, “uncooperative.” But contrary to the small-minded views of some, Black women are not angry at all. Black women are tired. We’re tired of being misunderstood and mistreated, so we choose to be outspoken and seek the respect we’ve been withheld for so long.
Civil Rights leader Malcolm X once said “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman,” and sadly, his words still ring true. We’re rarely defended or openly heard, even though our power is great. And even when it comes to our dealings with other women, we get the short end of the stick. While many womanist and feminist movements were in early stages of development, Black women were rarely at the forefront, and quite frankly these movements were not created for us in the first place.
Ostracized and neglected often by both members of our race and gender, it would be enough to make anyone want to be a bit more frank. To call out the disregard and want better not just for us, but everyone, as it’s only right.
Black women are finally in a position to, as Rep. Maxine Waters put it, “reclaim my time” and speak our minds as we see fit. To change the conversation and the status quo. To expect more and demand it. To create platforms and spaces where we can make our voices heard and find community. Being passionate and outspoken individuals who choose to use their voice to speak out may get us the “angry” label, but really, it’s just telling it like it is.
What is angry about having your own opinion? What is angry about speaking out against injustice? What is angry about demanding the respect you deserve?
What I’ve come to realize is the “angry Black woman” label is simply society’s coping method used to undermine the opinions of Black women and the attempt to tune us out. When Black women speak up in the workplace, in our households, or out in the world in general, it receives a very different reaction than in previous generations, and not a reaction that is always socially accepted. But that’s ok. That’s not going to slow us down.
Labeling passionate and outspoken Black women as “angry” is much easier (aka, lazier) than accepting change, acknowledging disparities, and coming to terms with the fact that there is validity in our questions, comments and concerns.
The fact of the matter is, Black women are not angry at all. We are simply reacting differently to life, no longer lying down and accepting whatever now that we have that option. We exude confidence, demand respect and use our voices proudly. Society may be used to silencing us, but we will be silenced no more. If that makes us “angry,” then so be it.