I would never describe myself as an angry black woman.
Of course, there are a lot of things to be angry about. I experience racist and sexist moments on a regular basis. But I don’t really respond to them, precisely because I’m aware of fulfilling a stereotype.
Being aware of the stereotype of the angry black woman means that even anger, and the expression thereof, is a privilege. In other words, I don’t feel free enough to be angry, or to express my anger to others, because I am afraid of filling the “angry black woman” stereotype.
True freedom would mean that I wouldn’t have to worry about how I express my anger. It would mean that I could articulate myself without thinking about how I might be setting the race 12,000 steps back.
One of my ex-es used to have “privilege days,” where he acted the same way white people did. Another friend of mine, a black woman, did the same. They took up extra space. They didn’t apologize. They indulged in everyday rudenesses that white people inflicted upon them on a regular basis.
The fact that my friends have had to actively think, “what would a white person do?” means that we’re not all equal, and we’re not impervious to racist, classist, or sexist behavior. Every decision I make in a day–from how I wear my hair, to what clothes I wear, and how loudly or quietly I speak–has something to do with the fact that I’m a Christian black woman. I love who I am, and I wouldn’t change any of those identities. But my identities mean that my life is very different from those who have more (or less) privilege due to their race, class or gender.
And that’s something to be angry about.
Anger can be used as a political tool to engender change. When I do express anger, it is usually on behalf of someone else. But I rarely give myself permission to be angry about something that happens to me. I just sweep it under a rug. I place that story alongside others to tell my friends at brunch or tea.
Not giving myself the permission to be angry when bad things happen to me isn’t healthy. As a woman in general, and a black woman in particular, we are socialized to feel and express emotions in a very particular way. If you’re not polite and controlled, or not “reasonable,” you are automatically considered crazy.
I’m tired of fighting a war against injurious stereotypes.
So when I’m angry, I’ll be angry. I won’t sin, or I’ll try not to (because Jesus would not be cool with that), but I’m going to be angry. When a crazy approach is necessary for making my point, I’ll be crazy.
And I won’t feel a stitch of guilt about it.