Today’s guest post is from Mocha Girl MJ. A Chicago native, MJ Forbes began writing short stories at the age of five. She and a kindergarten friend would write stories and read them to one another over the telephone. MJ continued writing throughout her school days, and won several literary awards. Though it was once only a childhood hobby, MJ later realized the true power of the plume, and began to use writing to give a voice to words which might otherwise have been left unsaid. Her writing brings attention to common issues from a different perspective, allowing the reader to experience a variety of emotions vicariously through her characters. MJ believes that writing is a healing both to the writer and the reader.
“Reading your own feelings from off of a page feels like finally sharing a secret with someone other than yourself. A book won’t judge you if you cry when you shouldn’t or if you laugh when nothing is really funny. Reading provides freedom to acknowledge your emotions, whatever they may be. Writing forces you to do the same.” – MJ Forbes
Woman: Black. Angry?
I typically prefer not to address unfavorable stereotypes beyond an occasional private conversation with girlfriends. But I can’t stand to see an idea so muddled that everyone is talking about it, but few really know what they are actually talking about. Please allow to me provide a touch of clarity on the much debated topic of the misunderstood ‘angry black woman’, which I’ll try to do without belaboring it.
Let’s begin here.
Definition: angry – adjective, feeling or showing anger or strong resentment (usually followed by at, with, or about).
The phrase ‘angry black woman’ is something of a misnomer. It suggests that malcontent is an intrinsic part of the character of a woman who has brown skin and ancestors from Africa. In actuality, this unfortunate syndrome is not race related. It is not genetic. It’s a learned behavior. A reaction, actually. This anger is a defense tactic that has been passed down from mothers, aunts, and grandmothers along with secret family recipes and traditions. Black women are not naturally more aggressive than other human beings. That is why there are no angry black babies.
In fact, as babies, we are all the same. Humans are born with a sense of entitlement. No infant has ever considered whether or not they are entitled to more or less than others. We emerge from our mothers’ wombs with an expectation to have all of our needs met. And we cry furiously until our desires are fulfilled. No, anger is not a color thing. It is a human thing.
Anger not always a bad thing. The difference is in how we channel it. It is often the first step toward change. The problem is that many of us are not taking the second, third, and twentieth steps. But I’ll leave that topic for another discussion. Some women are known to express anger with yelling, finger swinging, and neck jerking. The unfortunate consequence of this is that others cannot see past your emotion to your meaning. Then these expressions are connected with irrationality and even monthly hormonal cycles. Therefore, they are treated as if unimportant or nonexistent. Some women quietly hold anger inside like a heavy stone weighing down their intestines. Poorly managed anger doesn’t do anything for us but encourage cortisol hormones to add inches around our mid-sections, and make wrinkles where we know good and well we should not be cracked. Finally, some women direct anger into calculated action.
An arguable idea: black women have just cause to be angry. Why? We live in a world where despite all of our advances as a species, we still categorize people by their appearance. For black
women, not only are we black, but we have the nerve to be female as well. Therefore, positioned in our spot at the bottom of society’s totem pole, we are often assumed less intelligent and capable. When we demonstrate that we are, in fact, brilliant, creative, and forward moving, the response we receive is often…wait for it… anger. This puts is in a virtually no win situation. That is, if the goal is to win the favor of people who are not black and not women. Perhaps we should make sure that is not our goal.
But we have made so many strides in race relations. That is true. And a great many people, male and female, black and other colors have fought and given their lives for our rights. We should be grateful that we have the freedoms and opportunities that we have, and we should take advantage of them. Through the efforts of these people, laws have changed. What is deemed socially acceptable has changed. People, however, are generally the same. Hatred has been with man since Cain murdered his brother and it is standing nowhere near the exit.
But that’s not all. Black women are angry because we are victimized by the media, each other, and ourselves. Some of us are mad that girlfriend bought a house, or started a business. We get indignant when we should be inspired. Far more unfortunate than that is the fact that some of us are mad at other black women for having a shade lighter complexion, or slightly fuller lips and hips than the next. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we should all be holders of our own beauty and grace. Then we may see that the beauty and intelligence of other black women is no threat to ourselves. The world is large enough for many women of beauty, intelligence, talents, shades, backgrounds.
Circumstances have placed us in a box, but guess what ladies – there’s a crack in the side. It has been caused by the weight and pressure of many women before us and next to us pushing against the walls. What are you doing? Are you pushing hard or are you standing around complaining that the crack is too narrow and you will never get through?
I am a black woman and I am not angry. I’m too busy being fabulous and successful and chasing my dreams to be mad at anyone for being mad at me for doing the aforementioned things. I am, however, aware. And I suspect that many other black women are not ‘angry’. I think many of us may have misdirected passion and misunderstood ambition.
I would like to propose a motion, and I’m looking for someone to second it. Black women, let us not pass this idea of inferiority to our daughters. Let us be the last generation of women with any hint of an idea that we accomplish anything ‘in spite’ of ourselves. Let us be so preoccupied with activity that we have less time for anger. One day may this all be a faded scar on the face of society rather than an oozing wound.
Thank you Mocha Girl MJ for this guest post. Feel free to comment below and if you would like to submit a guest post about Black Women, books or something along those lines, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.