Yes, I Am An Angry Black Woman!

D. L. Hugley, a few weeks back, shared his thoughts on the subject of angry black women, his premise being that all black women are angry. Realizing, of course, that while “all” means “all,” the absolute of “all” is very seldom a truth.

Still, I had to ask myself, am I an angry black woman? As I thought on this question, the answer came to me, “Yes, I am an angry black woman and I want to share my reasons with you as to why I am angry.

First Reason Why I am Angry

In 1619, In Jamestown, Virginia, approximately 20 captive Africans are sold into slavery in the British North American colonies.  http://www.themayflowersociety.com: More than one hundred years ago, a group of descendants of the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, saw the need for a national society to honor their memory. The intention was to remember these Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony. Today there are tens-of-millions of individuals descended from these brave souls. It is the goal of The Mayflower Society to join together people who share this heritage and to carry “on the memory of our Pilgrim ancestors.”

Do you see the dichotomy of the two columns; the group on the left was stolen from a Motherland and sold into slavery in the New World. The group on the right voluntarily left their homeland to begin a new life in the New World.

The descendants of those individuals who stepped off the Mayflower have celebrated, and still do celebrate that legacy of landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620, wearing as a badge of honor “Mayflower descendant.”

But those slaves who were stolen from their homeland, though there are probably descendants, not only of those individuals, but of those who came after them, cannot celebrate their disembarkment. Not only can we, and I say we because this group includes me, not celebrate coming over before the Mayflower, but I can’t even go back to the specific soil of my ancestral roots.

“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us!”

Denzel Washington as Malcolm X in Spike Lee movie”Malcolm”

Second Reason I am Angry (Two Points):

FACT: Harrriet Jacobs writes under the pseudonym of Linda Brent in the book, INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL: When her mother dies, six-year-old Linda is sent to live with her mother’s mistress, who treats her well and teaches her to read. After a few years, this mistress dies and bequeaths Linda to a relative. Her new masters are cruel and neglectful, and Dr. Flint, the father, soon begins pressuring Linda to have a sexual relationship with him. Linda struggles against Flint’s overtures for several years. He pressures and threatens her, and she defies and outwits him. Knowing that Flint will eventually get his way, Linda consents to a love affair with a white neighbor, Mr. Sands, saying that she is ashamed of this illicit relationship but finds it preferable to being raped by the loathsome Dr. Flint. With Mr. Sands, she has two children, Benny and Ellen. Linda argues that a powerless slave girl cannot be held to the same standards of morality as a free woman. She also has practical reasons for agreeing to the affair: she hopes that when Flint finds out about it, he will sell her to Sands in disgust. Instead, the vengeful Flint sends Linda to his plantation to be broken in as a field hand.(summary from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/gender/history2.html).

Point #1: Black women during the time of slavery were objectified before the word became a buzzword for Feminists. She became the sex only object for the Master and the baby mill for the slave system.  Her man, her husband could not protect her and if he chose to do so, he signed his death sentence and she was left alone anyway.

This objectification is seen in literature where the African slave woman became the exotic “Other, “ even in England’s revered JANE EYRE: The wedding day arrives, and as Jane and Mr. Rochester prepare to exchange their vows, the voice of Mr. Mason cries out that Rochester already has a wife. Mason introduces himself as the brother of that wife—a woman named Bertha. Mr. Mason testifies that Bertha, whom Rochester married when he was a young man in Jamaica, is still alive. Rochester does not deny Mason’s claims, but he explains that Bertha has gone mad. He takes the wedding party back to Thornfield, where they witness the insane Bertha Mason scurrying around on all fours and growling like an animal (online summary). Bertha is the exotic Other relegated to the attic because she is mad, the Other who is never given a voice in the story other than what her very English husband tells Jane Eyre.

I am angry because this idea of the exotic “Other” is still too much of a vision in even the 21st century, hot blooded, big-bootied promises of strange delights in the bedroom ala Lady Mamarlade or those video vixens gyrating in the background of that grilled tooth rapper whose misogynistic rants continue to cover African American women in disrespect.

Point #2: African American men were stripped of their humanity and their right to take care of their own families.

FACT: A master’s control over both spouses reduced the black male’s potential for dominance over his wife. Married slaves, whose union was not legally recognized, held no joint property in common. What is more, labor segregation by sex and the frequency with which male slaves were sold meant women were not only left to raise their children alone, but also to rely on female friends and relations above husbands (online summary).

The fact that too many of our families look like this today in the 21st century makes me angry because slavery sought to strip us of anything that resembled civilized people, or a civilization that cared about its own. Today we find ourselves in that same place. Men are no longer sold away from families but have chosen, instead, in too many instances, to walk away without a backwards look, blaming some angry black woman who has made their life miserable. Women, who perhaps deeply respected their men pre-slavery, now wear bitter attitudes that scream “black men ain’t feces.”

I am angry because neither African American me or African American women seem to be able to see what history, society and our own attitudes have done to destroy what was once strong black families before we got over.

Bullet Points:

I am angry because my very intelligent grandfather could only find work as a field hand in cotton fields.

I am angry that my grandmother was a wash woman and her daughter, my mother, was a maid before the doors opened at the cotton mill and eventually the assembly line of Texas Instruments.

I am angry that the system that supported me in my all African American elementary and secondary education was disabled as soon as integration came into play and the teachers who had been our cheerleaders had to prove their worth in the now integrated schools of my hometown.

I am angry that no one recognizes that the culture called African American is a genuine American culture; forged in the crucible of slavery it is a blending of all the nations that were thrown together on those pernicious plantations eventually to emerge as a New Society in the New World.

I am angry that African Americans are still seen as “the Other,” even by those who are newly arrived in America.

Reason #3 I am Angry

The class system in our community (and I use the word loosely, from my vantage point, the “no class” system):

OUR KIND OF PEOPLE: THE ORIGINS OF THE BLACK UPPER CRUST

http://www.theurbanpolitico.com/2011/06/book-of-month-our-kind-of-people-inside.html

Lawrence Otis Graham spent six years researching the history of the African-American upper crust and this book is both a thorough work of social history and a thoughtful appraisal of his own place in the black social hierarchy. Graham makes clear that the black elite has always been strongly shaped by the peculiarly intertwined American preoccupations with color and class, noting that, in the past, most members of the black elite felt they were “superior to other blacks and to most whites.” Stressing the importance of surrounding themselves with “like-minded people,” the black elite enrolled their children in certain social clubs, which were training grounds for the social graces and created the foundation of a black old-boy network. Graham stops short of offering an apology for behavior that is hard to characterize as anything other than snobbish (he himself had a nose job when he was 26 so that he would have a less “Negroid” look). But he does bemoan a dwindling interest in tradition, and he suggests that it wasn’t such a bad thing to grow up in the 1960s and ’70s without the “sense of anger and dissatisfaction the rest of black America” expressed in those years.

Too many African Americans have put on the cloak of shame and wrapped themselves in self-loathing because they do not know their history, or what they do know of their history in America is from that brew of inhumanity and animosity that was served in a bitter cup to their ancestors. We live in a shame not of our making but was foisted upon us by a culture that cared nothing about us or our humanity.

There was a time when we were the only community that we had, and even though we did have our issues with one another, we knew we were all we had and we made sure that though we were surrounded by madness we would not accept the madness as part and parcel of who we were. But, when “freedom rang,” we trampled the cloak of community underneath our feet and scattered to our own little ghettos (small enclaves of people) to turn on one another or move as far away from our roots as we possibly could.

And yes, there were those who managed to create their own little enclaves of entitlement and prosperity who did not have to deal with much of the angst suffered by their poor relations on the other side of the tracks, but if we trace our roots back to 1619, we just might discover that most of us have a lineage of “up through slavery.”

I am angry because we should know our history and we do not!

FACT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American_studies

Programs and departments of African American studies were first created in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of inter-ethnic student and faculty activism at many universities, sparked by a five month strike for black studies at San Francisco State. In February 1968, San Francisco State hired sociologist Nathan Hare to coordinate the first black studies program and write a proposal for the first Department of Black Studies; the department was created in September 1968 and gained official status at the end of the five-months strike in the spring of 1969. The creation of programs and departments in Black studies was a common demand of protests and sit-ins by minority students and their allies, who felt that their cultures and interests were underserved by the traditional academic structures.

Rather than study our history so that we might pass on the positive to our children, the resilience, the integrity, the character, the compassion and care for one another, the realization that we thrived in spite of the fact that the odds were against us, we instead have kept silent, choosing rather not to talk about it (much like we don’t talk about sex, or about those dirty little secrets in the church, or the family stuff we sweep under the carpet) which has left the next generation without historical roots or wings, the consequence of which is that the next generation has turned on each other, devaluing the lives of others as well as their own because we did not invest the strength and resilience of our history in America in them.

Reason #4 Why I Am Angry

Skin color and hair texture is still too much of a focus within the community.

Fact or Conjecture is still debated but let’s take a look at the Wille Lynch Letter:

As many of you know, I am not the proud wearer of natural hair, but it drives me crazy that I am still self-conscious about my hair within the community. I have long moved past the skin color thing, but my natural hair is problematic for me. Why??????

I HAVE OUTLINED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE SLAVES; AND I TAKE THESE DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM BIGGER. I USE FEAR, DISTRUST AND ENVY FOR CONTROL PURPOSES. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it’s there only because it starts with an “a.” The second is “COLOR” or shade. There is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, SIZES OF PLANTATIONS, STATUS on plantations, ATTITUDE of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST AND ENVY STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for HUNDREDS of years, maybe THOUSANDS.

I am angry that this “logic” presentation to slave owners is still working on us. Still too many people hate their kinky hair aka nappy hair and while it may not be as much of a conversation, skin color is still a measurement of value in the community otherwise the terms light skinned and dark skinned would have played out long ago.

Reason #5 Why I Am Angry

That African American men feel that they can say with impunity that there is such a thing as the Angry Black Woman and apparently it is a malady that has been passed down from one generation of Angry Black Women to another generation of Angry Black Women.

You cannot blanket an entire gender with a singular experience.

BET.COM

D.L. Hughley: “Black Women Are Angry All the Time”

The comedian expresses a controversial opinion.

By Evelyn Diaz

Posted: 11/01/2012 09:00 AM EDT

D.L. Hughley may be a king of comedy, but many women won’t be laughing when they hear his latest controversial statements. 

The actor and comedian, speaking on NPR while promoting his new book I Want You to Shut the Fawk Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America, had this to say about Black women:

“I’ve never met an angrier group of people. Like Black women are angry just in general. Angry all the time. My assessment, just in my judgment, you either are in charge or they’re in charge, so there’s no kind of day that you get to rest.”

Hughley goes on to say that his wife is the only Black woman he can stand, perhaps due in no small part to the fact that, as Hughley himself admits, she’s one of the few Black women who can stand him. 

The comedian defended himself against an inevitable backlash by reminding listeners that he has long been an advocate for celebrities who make controversial statements: “I have defended Michael Richards for the N-word. I’ve defended Tracy Morgan for his comments. I defended Rush Limbaugh. It is the idea that they have the right to say it.” 

While it’s true that Hughley has a right to say what’s on his mind, it’s pretty clear he’s not counting on the support of Black women for book sales. 

While it is true (because I am a product of my Jim Crow upbringing) that I may never be 100% comfortable with interracial relationships (just speaking my truth), I have no problem with people who choose to date and marry “outside the race.” My problem are those men to choose to date/marry other ethnicities and then blame that decision on “the angry black women.” Come on men, Man Up! If that is your flavor, then take ownership of your choice rather that blaming the women who look like your mothers and sisters and aunts and grandmothers and cousins.

I am sure that there are some angry, bitter black women out there and they are taking out that anger and bitterness on every black man whose presence reminds them of a father who left them, a man who cheated them, a husband who abandoned them. But, I am pretty sure that this woman comes in all colors, not just black.

The time has come for us to embrace who we are, warts and all. The time has come for us to stop pointing the finger at one another and come together to link arms together to move forward for the good of all mankind. If we have to be angry, let us be angry that we have yet to have a genuine race conversation in America (or did you miss all the racist fallout after President Obama’s election?). Until this happens, there will be more than just angry black women with which this society will have to contend.

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