First, let me begin by stating the obvious in order to clarify the meaning of this post: the ‘angry black woman stereotype’, like all racial stereotypes, is incredibly dehumanising because not only does it assume all black women are the same but it is also a means of silencing our individual voices by discarding our thoughts and feelings as just ‘anger’. It suggests that the full spectrum of human emotions is a luxury not afforded to black women.
It’s funny, and by funny I mean not funny at all, that the same people who are so quick to use the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype are not so quick when it comes to questioning why it is we might be angry. Unless you have been living under a rock (or are just embarrassingly ignorant) you will be aware of the tragedies that have occurred in the USA over the past few days: the police killing of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, within two days followed by the death of five police officers in a sniper attack during a peaceful protest in response to police violence.
As a result, it has been near-impossible to go on any form of social media without being forced to see the murder of black men at the hands of police as the last moments of their lives are constantly posted, shared and retweeted. Consequently, on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday morning I found myself unable to sleep as these videos replayed themselves in my head. That’s when I started writing ‘This Black Woman is Angry . Not because that is the only emotion black women are capable of, but because this world gives us plenty of reasons to be.
I was angry that it is now commonplace to see the murder of black people online; angry that Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile’s girlfriend, had to live stream the murder of her boyfriend because she couldn’t rely on the justice system; angry that her four-year-old daughter saw things no adult should ever have to see, let alone a child; that she was forced to comfort her mother in the back of a police car moments after her father figure lay dying in the seat in front of her. I was angry that black bodies aren’t treated with dignity or respect except when they are used to make a profit; that there are people grieving for their loved ones all because being black is a crime punishable by death and angry that other people were not angry too.
So I ended up writing this poem entitled ‘This Black Woman is Angry’ because I was, I am and I have every right to be.
This Black Woman is Angry
This black woman is angry.
Yes, this black woman is angry as hell.
In a world where the colour of one’s skin,
Is reason enough to kill
You should be angry as well.
This black woman is frustrated.
Her brothers and sisters are unjustly incarcerated
So they can be falsely painted as thugs,
This black woman is confused
Because the same people who paint this picture,
Will post a picture
Wearing our hair,
Turning a blind eye to what’s within.
You will not,
Discard our hearts.
We are not a sum of parts
To be disposed of at your refusal.
We are not objects for your perusal.
Not here for your approval,
You do not own us.
This black woman is tired
Of people policing our feelings
When the police can’t even police their feelings.
So stop with your ifs, buts and excuses,
Enough is enough.
You cannot justify injustice.
This black woman has questions:
Who made you this violent?
Tell me what did they do?
Is someone going around
Killing your people too?
This black woman is scared
Because they shout “slavery’s over”
As the streets flood
With the blood from strange fruit.
If slavery’s over,
Why can I still feel this noose around my neck?
Reminding me my life hangs on a thread,
That it just takes one racist
To shoot me dead.
A wise man once said:
“Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real”,
So you can’t kill us
Then expect us not to feel
This black woman is angry,
Her brothers and sisters are being beaten,
Until their black is black and blue.
This black woman is angry,
The question is:
Why aren’t you?