Spoiler alert = it’s not fun.
So, let’s talk about a tale, a tale of being labelled as an angry black girl, which is basically my whole life. I think it doesn’t help that I’m a naturally confrontation person who is willing to stand their ground, alongside being blunt – but these personality traits were developed before I knew that negative black stereotypes would plague my entire existence. I also don’t want to become someone who is the opposite of myself as a result of societies need for POC to be submissive, so it’s a weird catch 22 situation there.
In case you haven’t heard there is a horrible stereotype associated with black girls and it’s becoming the ‘angry’, ‘sassy’ black girl. The one who appears in movie and television as aggressive, crazy and lacks a lot of self control. The one who kisses their teeth whilst also snapping their fingers in a ‘Z’ formation, and they’re generally feared but never respected – that girl is a girl that people think is actually real, and they associated any black woman who isn’t ridiculously submissive as this girl.
The angry black girl isn’t someone people want to be around, they fear her, look down on her and don’t respect her thoughts or opinions. They also assume she lacks intelligence, but I feel like that comes from a different and more inherently disgusting place of racism. This stereotype is honestly one of those things that I didn’t realise was a major issue until I entered the work force.
Weirdly enough the stereotype helped me avoid bullying in secondary school – people assumed I was stronger than I actually am because of it, back to adult life racism.
I feel like this didn’t hit me until my adult life because for most of my childhood and teenage years I was surrounded by people of colour, specifically South Asians, so I wasn’t even aware of how we’re supposed to act around white people until it was too late. A lot of POC tend to assimilate and make them selves more palatable to white people as a basic survival tactic, which is effective, but in doing so you’re essentially allowing an environment where we put in all of the work to be accepted, but the other side does nothing to balance the playing field.
So, remember how I mentioned I’m a naturally confrontational, blunt human, well that didn’t go well. I didn’t really realise it until I saw the weird looks, the lack of eye contact and some people generally showing signs of fear or possibly intimidation towards me. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an intimidating person, but I’ve been told I am, and I know part of it is because I will shut people down for fun, but a big part of it is also because of the stereotype linking black people to aggressive and dangerous.
Being seen as the angry black girl isn’t fun, even when you spend time away from the people who project it. It’s not fun knowing that despite your skills and intelligence you’ll have to work 10x harder to be seen as a respected individual and your hard work will be overlooked unless you have a manager who isn’t effected by racial prejudice (i.e isn’t a racist).
You also end up in weird situations where even your colleagues will make jokes about you being the ‘aggressive, crazy friend’ or the one who could stir up some drama, when in reality I don’t want to be that person. I will always happily defend a friend, or defend myself, but confrontation for the main point of just playing a role is just horrible and it kind of made me feel like a zoo animal, an other and ultimately an outsider.
You lose a sense of belonging to anyone unless your blessed with having other ethnic minorities around you – very few white people actually understand it and I’ve lost the time and effort to explain it to people, which is why it’s ironic that I’m even writing down this blog post. I guess pettiness gives me energy I didn’t realise I had.