The narrative of the loud,angry black woman has been a falsified construction of the black woman for years. It is deeply embedded in white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist notions which seek to denigrate and demoralise black women. So, why Rasheeda would you, a white supremacist, patriarchy capitalist assassin seek to clothe yourself in the very same cloak of discourse that was strategically designed to oppress you? A very good question babes, and you are indeed smart for asking such things.
A few years back I attended a youth conference. Young people from across the UK were representing their boroughs to discuss issues affecting young people across the country. My best friend and I, two black girls were proudly representing the borough of Greenwich #brap. I was aware of the fact that at this conference we would be surrounded by middle class,white girls and boys from private schools who would have had the nuances of political philosophy, classical civilisations and history taught to them from a young age. Although I knew I was badass, I was aware that their cultural capital would trump mine in an environment like this.
Cognisant of this, I ensured that before I arrived I had done some quintessential private school political readings so that I ‘could be on par’ with the rich white kids. When we arrived, as I had anticipated we were 2 out of about 8 black representatives there in a crowd of over 200. I didn’t feel dramatically uncomfortable until a few days into the conference. On day two, my friend and I were pulled publically out of a session because the organisers of the event wanted to speak to us. We went into a room and were accused of selling drugs. Our bags were searched and we were interrogated. Please bear in mind that this was a youth conference about youth voice, democracy and representation. After the coordinators of the event found nothing usual in our rooms other than some braids that had dropped out my head the night before and edge control on the dresser, we were let go.
I remember being deeply angry. Despite my reading in the weeks before to be ‘good enough’ for this white space it still wasn’t enough. The two black girls from South London were accused of selling drugs. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t fight. I didn’t demand an apology. Why?Because I didn’t want to be the angry, loud, black girl in this ‘civilised,white space’ that I had worked so hard to be accepted in.
Despite them already putting me into their stereotypical and racialized boxes, I didn’t want to further exacerbate that narrative. My understanding at the time had taught me that my anger could only exist within the framework of the ‘angry, loud, black woman’ and that I didn’t want to be, especially within this space.Despite my feelings at this time, I have since realised that rather than furthering the narrative through the lens of white supremacist, patriarchal culture it was possible for me to re-envision it through my own lens. Rather than an option, I began to see this as fundamentally necessary. It is necessary because black women have far long been told that they cannot voice anger without their behaviour being attributed to such discourse.
I, like many other black women have been in situations where we have refrained from voicing our anger and frustration because of such narratives . We’ve felt as if we take up too much space when walking in the fullness of our very valid emotions. Our emotional right to anger has been minimised in many spaces because of harmful narratives.
We’ve been told we cannot be angry.
But I am angry. I am furious.
I am angry because black men and women are disproportionately incarcerated, disproportionately killed by the state and unfairly represented in the media. Women across the globe are murdered and silenced and have their autonomy taken away from them on a daily basis. Katie Hopkins is allowed to open her mouth and compare brown lives to cockroaches whilst Donald Trump can openly call for the banning of an entire group of human beings from entering the so called ‘land of the free’. Simultaneously the supposed ‘lesser of two evils’, Hillary Clinton can call black teens super predators and claim to be a symbol of progress for white feminist ideals. The poor are victimised,vilified and tortured by the state every single day.People are killed and their homes are lost because of corporate greed and western ‘need’.I am angry and I have every right to be, because injustice is rife and inequality is extensive.
My life as a black woman isn’t governed by pain and anger and it is important that we don’t construct such single story narratives. However those are realities for black women all across the world and we are allowed to be angry about them. Anger is by no means the centre of who I am.I am a bastion for love and peace, a passion for justice burns through my veins,it pulsates within me, it is my heartbeat and anger is the result of justice not manifesting in its entirety. Many continue to be silenced and many are afraid to speak up for inequality and it because of heroes that have come before me that I have the audacity to scream for justice.
I dare you to take up space, I dare you to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and I dare you to be unapologetic about your fight for justice
I will scream for justice and be LOUD when the voices of the marginalised aren’t heard
I will despise evil and will be ANGRY when it isn’t achieved
And look at this melanin baby, I am indeed a BLACK WOMAN