"Bitter Black Bitch!” The words burned as they rang through my ears; as they slipped from my Uncle Ron’s lips. As a woman, I have been called that various times in my life. It’s almost like the word 'Bitch' is a package deal with womanhood. But, very rarely has my blackness seem to be included in the insult. Then I noticed a pattern, either with past lovers or some male friends of mine. I have heard this type of talk before, but just differently.
“You’re so aggressive!”
“You’re so loud!”
Not only are these statements very inflammatory, but they do also come from the stereotype often made about Black women. Black women, particularly darker-skinned Black women are perceived as more aggressive, ghetto, loud, bitter, etc often when showing little to any range of emotion, especially anger. Being angry like any emotion can usually come from some traumatic event or when a person feels slighted. Oftentimes, it comes out of being hurt in some way.
Yet, when men or non-black women react in the same way they are not labeled as bitter or aggressive. Men are expected to be aggressive; especially in the Black community where hyper-masculinity is a prevalent issue. Of course, this stemming from Misogynoir.
While Misogyny is the feeling of hating women or the belief that men are better than women.
Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards Black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. The term was coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey, who created the term to address misogyny directed toward Black women in American visual and popular culture.
Also, historically in media in film Black women have been stereotyped into three main archetypes Mammie, Jezebel, and Sapphire. These archetypes have strong roots in slavery and have a negative connotation within the Black community. In popular culture, the presence of the Mammy or Jezebel archetype has been portrayed for years within the film community. The third, but also a popular archetype for Black women is Sapphire or can also be called the Angry/Independent Black women. This character was often seen demoralizing and humiliating the Black man.
The 1930s radio show turned television show Amos 'n' Andy was a sitcom set in Harlem, Manhattan's historic Black community. It focused on the plight of two Black men and the daily antics they would get themselves involved. Sapphire Stevens, the wife of Andy, gave birth to the negative stereotype about Black women who are seen as “sassy” or “angry”. For one, the writers for the show were white and they couldn't possibly make an accurate description of Black woman in the 30s. From Amos n Andy to Aunt Esther on the 1970s television comedy Sanford and Son. This stereotype is closely related to the Mammy, Sapphire is usually overweight ( but not as much as the Mammy), dark skin, and known for her sassy attitude.
In recent, this portrayal in popularized “Black films” like Think like a man. In the film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s book Act like a lady, Think like a man focuses on the aspect of relationships and how men and women handle them. It encompasses four friends Dominic, Jeremy, Michael, and Zeke. They are involved with four other female friends who each encompass stereotypes about Black women. One of the most prevalent stereotypes was the Sapphire, Angry/ Independent Black woman, who put down men because they feel extremely superior. The character Lauren, who portrayed this role eventually had to lower her “high standards’ to find love.
In sum, Black Women are not angry, and if we are it is for good reason. One needs to look deeper than some perceived anger, one has to look at the root of the issue. With any stereotype, there can be some truth to them. Yes, many Black women have found themselves in a predicament where they do have to advocate for their behalf; but when simply voicing their opinions, the world, even our community can perceive it as anger. So what is the answer? How do we change this narrative around? The first step is unlearning these stereotypes and seeing the humanity in each other.