It seems like it’s far too easy for folks to write off sisters with strong views as “Angry Black women”. I’ve found myself described as an ABW more times than I can count and it makes me, well, angry.

Granted, I am a writer. So I have more people judging me and my views than most folks do. I signed up for that knowing what I was getting into and I’m tough enough to handle it. I also realize that someone who’s only read my writings about gender or race doesn’t know how much I laugh, how silly I am with my friends. They don’t know that I’m an active dater who’s been told she’s pleasant and fun to be around. If the entire picture they see is serious, then I suppose it’s hard for them to imagine that there’s a real-life happy woman writing these things.

But it’s not just the sisters who are public with their views getting stamped with the scarlet “ABW”. I’ve seen it happen more than a few times off the Web. A group of folks are at a dinner party or a bar, discussing something provocative. The outspoken, passionate woman is easily cast as angry or, my other least-favorite title, bitter. Being known for being passionate can even be a deterrent for potential suitors (BTW-let the irony in that statement marinate). I’ve been told by a number of women they agree with many of the opinions I say in my writing, but they wouldn’t say these things publicly themselves because they don’t want the ABW title that comes with it.

The stereotype of the angry Black woman says a lot about how far we still have to go when it comes to how gender is viewed in this country. A man with a big voice is free to speak without so much worry over how he may be negatively judged for his feelings. A woman’s passion should not be mistaken for bitterness and misery. I personally can debate over the reasons gender beefs between the sexes for hours and then go spend the rest of my day with a man with no problems whatsoever. Vocal opinions do not negate someone’s ability to be satisfied or pleased with their life. You can be mad about racism, but happy about your friends. You can hate sexism and love men. You can be righteously indignant about the bad things going on in the world and still have a happy and rich life.

You can have a slew of strong opinions about politics, culture, relationships or anything else without being a bitter, angry woman. And while I am not negating the existence of women (and men!) who are out there with the 24-7 mean mug and hostile disposition, it bears mentioning that most outspoken sisters aren’t miserable! We cry, but we laugh. We fight and we love. I hope that I will see in my lifetime a different view of the opinionated sister; perhaps we can come to appreciate her right to think, feel and speak, even if we disagree, without attacking her for having the gall to do so freely.

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  • charles

    Its not what you do , its how you do it . if you have to stand on the table to make your point well dont blame the other people trying to eat for calling you names . Opinions are like buttholes everybody has one its when you feel you have to force yours down someones throat thats the problem . Personally I wont put up with it I dont mind someone standing up for what they believe in but theres a way to go about it depending on where you are and who is present . Having some class about yourself is what comes to my mind but that might be misunderstood and I dont have the time to explain it .

  • I wrote about this on my website last year, and my feelings mirrored yours. When other races get angry it’s fine because they’re just expressing their views. When black women do it we get bashed and ALL of us get tarred with the same brush. Then when quiet black women like me come along people are surprised because they expect us all to be loud/out spoken.

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  • MimiW

    Your article is comforting. Many times I thought something was wrong with me because I would find myself arguing one point in a discussion but then doing same-said thing days later. I’ve come to realize and accept the duality of me and cast away the hollywood notion that we are all to be one character and one character alone in the plot of life and only the ‘crazy’ characters get to have all the fun and be different people. I’m not angry just observant, articulate and frank. Those that label me as angry are nothing but limited in their thought process.