The Angry Black Woman
7 months ago
Why are D.L. Hughley and other men perpetuating the stereotype?
After learning about a recent interview on NPR with Michel Martin, in which comedian D.L. Hughley proclaimed that:
"I've never met an angrier group of people. Like black women are angry just in general. Angry all the time. My assessment, out of, just in my judgment, you either are in charge or they're in charge, so there's no kind of day that you get to rest."
I had to hear the entire interview and read the transcript for myself. I reasoned, "This has to be comedy! He's being sarcastic, right?" Unfortunately, I was wrong. This wasn't just another example of the many ways that black male comedians had historically used black women as the butt of their jokes.
When pressed further by Martin, Hughley tries to clarify, saying, "I don't like the way they process—no, I don't. I enjoy their company. I do not like the way that they reason. You can't understand them."
Hughley's comments reveal not only his own dislike of black women, they also exemplify deep-seated societal anxieties about the power of black women.
Let me say from the onset that like everyone else in the United States of America, D. L. Hughley has "freedom of speech," but he also has "the right to remain silent" and anything that he says can be used against him (and black women) in the court of public opinion. Instead of being part of the solution, he chose to add to the public practice of using the stereotype of the angry black woman to ridicule African American women.
Not surprisingly, black women used social media to fire back at Hughley. Hughley's defenders pointed to the angry violent behaviors of some black women on reality television as proof that he was correct, while others labeled Hughley's critics "angry" in an attempt to dismiss their legitimate concerns and anger about his statements.
There are a number of complex factors that reinforce the stereotype of the angry black woman. First, because of racism, black men and women who actively fight against injustice have been constructed as dangerous threats to the status quo. Second, because of sexism, groups of women who challenge male privilege have been dismissed as man-haters who want to dominate men. The image of the angry black woman emerged at the intersection of these racialized and gendered stereotypes—the embodiment of uncontrollable femaleness and blackness combined.
Contributor, Site Visitor