Sunday, 12 September 2010
The angry black woman
I recall quite vividly when the US media tried depict Michelle Obama as another bitter angry black woman who would end up holding her husband back because she couldn't hold her tongue. It was infuriating to watch especially when the despicable Fox News (where the word news is used very loosely), repeated their racist and misogynistic slander suggesting that she was this way because all black women are angry with the exception - they conceded - of Oprah. It was clear as day that there was nothing bitter nor aggressive about the stunning, incredibly smart and supportive Mrs Obama, yet the Republican-backed media did their utmost to sell us an image of a angry black woman, who was racist to boot. Fortunately they didn't succeed in their smear campaign.
But that was then, this is now and this film is based on a novel by Bishop T.D Jakes so try as I might, I cannot find a motive for him wanting to portray black women in a negative light while at the same time portraying black men and white women in a starkly different and positive light. Aside from looking too handsome for his own good, Morris Chestnut is an incredible husband, supportive, caring and hard working. The only white female character in the film is a single mother who dotes on her son and has a positive outlook towards life; in contrast to the black women she is down to earth, kind and thoughtful. Aside from the main female character, there is the mother-in-law who is yet another angry black woman who has nothing nice to say about her ex husband as well as the character of the black female friend who confesses to infidelity and in the same breath suggests fighting any woman who goes after her friend’s man. So in a nutshell we learn that black women are either angry, bitter or aggressive.
Having seen such portrayals time and again, I’m left asking the question - are there really women like that out there? I mean don't get me wrong, I can throw a tantrum or two like the best of them especially when the dishes you promised to wash haven't been washed, the creaky door is still creaking two months after I asked you to fix it and even worse, you show up at midnight having forgotten to tell me you were going for drinks after work. I suspect anyone would lose their temper in such circumstances, be they white, black or yellow. Aside from that I think I'm quite even-tempered and when I think of my friends and family, I cannot find a single one who fits the bill of this angry 'for no apparent reason' black woman.
One of the reasons given in the film for the character's bitchiness, let's just call it by its proper name now, was that she had not been taught how to love by her mother who had an abusive husband who left her angry and bitter about men in general. Like so many women in happy balanced relationships, I was raised by a single woman who taught me to love and respect men starting with my father. I guess the angry mother raising an angry daughter being angry at men may simply not be my reality so I shouldn’t discount the existence of such women. Yet it seems a little hard to believe that a black woman or any woman for that matter will do everything to sabotage her relationship with a near perfect man for no apparent reason which is precisely what this woman does. The man is hard working, though not as successful as she is, he loves and respects her and cannot wait to have children with her and she belittles him, refuses to sleep with him and shows a completely lack of respect at every given opportunity. I mean you'd have to be pretty self-destructive in an age where the pickings are slim and getting slimmer by the day to scoff at a near enough perfect man.
I will stand corrected if someone gives me an example or two of black women who are angry for no apparent reason and live each day this way but I still think this stereotype is a misogynistic and racist myth which sets out to portray us as irrational beings with a chip on our shoulder and a grudge at life. That is not me, nor the beautiful, loving, caring and often selfless women I know as friends and family.