The “angry” black girl.

IMG_3732The angry black girl?

Am I supposed GRR like a tiger or is my natural reflex to slap you across your face if you tap me. Im angry. An angry black girl apparently. They’ve labelled us. If you’re a black woman you are angry. From the moment you’re born you’re a warrior. Just place me in the jungle and I’ll slay every lion tiger and bear. Is that what they believe of me. What they’re trying to tell me. It’s cheeky to say the least? Right. But I feel different.

I’m 23 but it took me quite a while to realise what it is to be a woman in our society. I don’t know if it was down to my sheltered upbringing or just my own oblivion but I didn’t realise that to be a woman means to be different. It means a lot of people won’t hold you in the same regard as a man. I watched an interview on Kemi Adetiba’s king women series on YouTube (check it out) and one of the ladies spoke on how she wasn’t faced with this reality until her mid 30s. She was at an event in northern Nigeria and went to sit on the stage with others and she was met by a man who said to her coldly “Do you see any other women sitting here? MOVE”.
I am blessed to live in a society where many fight for the equality of men and women but in many parts of the world this still isn’t the case. So we fight. And we fight for the people silently in our midsts that view women as second class citizens. Those who will hate me just because I am a women.

Pretty early on I was made aware I was different. Funnily enough not because I was a girl but because my skin wasn’t as pale as my classmates. Echoes of “they will treat you different” or “they don’t like black people” ring in my ears. Because yes, these were the things I was told growing up. It was ingrained in me. My white friends and I could be chatting over the teacher but I’d be the one to be called out. Soon enough at a young age it was very apparent that the darker my skin was, the more I would be faced with racism and discrimination at every angle, no matter how glaring or discrete it may appear. Facing it more and more from people who didn’t have my skin wasn’t a surprise. As wrong as it was, I was warned. I was told. You will have to work harder, you have to be excellent because it’s not expected of you by some people. Those people may even knock you down at any chance they get. At the same time there was a big emphasis on “getting on with it”, cos that’s just how it was, not wallowing in self pity.
What nobody told me that my rights of passage to black womanhood would be insults from people with the same skin as me.

It came from some girls but mostly the boys. I know My experiences aren’t unique. If you weren’t called “ugly” or “butters”, was the term in school days, or even “blick”, were you a dark skinned black woman? A lot of us went through it. The name calling, the bullying and the constant reminder that the darker our own skin the was the less attractive we’d be found by our black boys. We were constantly reminded lighter skin was more desirable and we were at the bottom of the barrel.
I wasn’t a saint in school definitely a troublemaker to a certain degree. I vividly remember a guy from the all boys school, about 10 minutes away from my school, hated my guts. I’d get on the bus with all my girls and we’d be loud and cause a racket but we were harmless. Little did I know he had taken the most unflattering picture of me whilst I was laughing with my girls and posted it on a social networking site, bebo. I was made aware of the picture by my girls. He put the picture on his page . The picture was filled with mean comments which had been coming in for days – the common theme, that I was dark and ugly. This didn’t come from those with pale white skin. This was from a dark skinned black boy with skin just like me. Whilst we thank God that I’ve grown up, blossomed and I’m definitely far from ugly, a lot of black girls have had experiences from black boys that have scarred them till this day. And whilst it’s clear the racism we face from other races, it’s interesting to see some of the malice from OUR own race.

Many of us grow up, go to university and then enter the workplace where we are plagued with this stereotype of the ‘angry black woman’. The moment a black women opens her mouth to speak she is “aggressive”, if she makes a point she is “confrontational” or “threatening”. Whilst the phrase “angry black woman” irks me it seems to holds some truth to me. I want my sisters to hold on with me here. I started off the way I did to reiterate what it is to be a WOMAN and to be BLACK at the same damn time. We’re branded as undesirable, unworthy (of love) ugly, too dark, and even promiscuous in some cases, just for co-existing. All these labels put on us, all the things we are fighting against, fighting to prove ourselves….I now ask is this not enough to make me angry?? But this is thrown at us to shame and dim us down.

We exude power and determination, destroying all these negative labels by always achieving above and beyond when the odds are against us. We’ve watched our mothers, sisters aunties and now us, we have that natural fighter within us, that has been passed down from generations. Besides the racism we face, we also have to wait for our own men to “learn” to appreciate and accept us. Many of them take their sweet time to do so at that, whilst some never do. But black women do not feel sorry for themselves or display a defeatist attitude. We continue to fight and uphold. Please understand the strength of a black woman, the passion and fire that lies within us all. We continue to display it through all obstacles.

But my main reason for writing this piece is to say, maybe I am angry. Maybe I am a little defensive and maybe I am not as composed as the “average” person, whatever that means. Whatever that even is. But until you have walked a day In a black womans shoes you will never understand why we have this fire, why we have this passion. So I do not blame you. This is why we are ready to tackle anything life brings our way. Why we are always ready to defend ourselves. Our coping mechanisms will not be oversimplified and branded as irrational or as a time ticking bomb. We are not jungle warriors ready to fight you. We are not crazy and ready to cause a scene.

Whilst I hate what the angry black woman stereotype tries to perpetuate, many will never fully grasp the struggle of a black woman. Now am I saying black women should go about acting on anger, lashing out on people right left centre, because of what we go through. No I’m not. Am I saying that the angry black woman stereotype should be reiterated to make us look like untamed animals? Hell no!! Am I saying every single black woman has deep rooted anger issues. No no no. But What I am saying is maybe I am angry and I have a right to be. The burdens we carry bring about deep emotion. Before you call that girl aggressive and angry think about all she deals with that she shouldn’t have to, but manages with grace.

Before you go, have a listen to this song which couldn’t fit any better!