In Defense of Black Women Against the "Angry" Stereotype

Michele Norris of NPR just concluded a compelling and heartfelt set of tweets about why the stereotype of an "angry" Black woman is so damaging and hurtful. It speaks the truth in so many ways.
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Michele Norris @michele_norris

Umpteenth person (including newsroom colleagues) has asked me abt sensitivity around attaching the word "angry" to black woman" so here goes

13/01/2012 23:37:18 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Question usually goes something like this- why do black women get edgy about being called angry when they seem to be angry??????

13/01/2012 23:39:11 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Let's start with that word "seem". Because that is where this becomes an eye of the beholder judgement call

13/01/2012 23:41:50 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Possible that woman who SEEMS to be angry is actually being direct

13/01/2012 23:42:51 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Possible that seemingly angry black woman is expressing an attribute or characteristic that is normally seen in a positive light

13/01/2012 23:45:20 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

If you need further reference, reference the words "shrill" or "ballsy" or "fussy" when attached to certain social cohorts

13/01/2012 23:46:47 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Words sometimes take on meaning that go beyond their dictionary definition......

13/01/2012 23:48:49 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

... and when that happens an adjective saddles up next to a stereotype and slides into a slur

13/01/2012 23:48:58 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

You might be wondering why don't woman just give this the Kanye shrug or let it roll off their shoulders like Teflon?

13/01/2012 23:51:40 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

This is a matter of temperment and temperament can be determinative at work, in school, or in life

13/01/2012 23:54:20 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

In that sense this trope has a swiftboat quality that impacts not just women but also girls when a strength is turned into a millstone

13/01/2012 23:55:58 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

A show of steel in one's spine is mistaken for something akin to a neck rolling screed accompanied by two snaps and on hands on ample hips

13/01/2012 23:58:57 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

And understand this -- the trope of the angry black woman has an impact on all women. And therefore it has a ricochet impact on all of us

14/01/2012 00:03:00 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

When people ask me why this is all such a tripwire I'm tempted to roll my eyes & say "really" But it takes courage to ask & thus my response

14/01/2012 00:07:12 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

I am reminded of the pre school teacher who asked me why all the girls of color in her class were so..er...well...LOUD.

14/01/2012 00:08:29 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

Since my own daughter was one of those girls I swallowed my impulse to be offended and instead asked her to sit down and talk

14/01/2012 00:09:58 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

We talked at length about culture and tradition. How some people practically whisper as they pass the pot roast ....

14/01/2012 00:12:11 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

....while others roar with laughter and quite literally sing at the table because the convo AND the catfish is that good

14/01/2012 00:12:37 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

That teacher and I had a long conversation about character and culture and how strength manifests itself in manifold ways.

14/01/2012 00:13:47 WIB
Michele Norris @michele_norris

The conversation with that preschool teacher made me late for work that day years ago but it was worth it

14/01/2012 00:15:31 WIB
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