The African American female body has been used as a tool by the white man since the invasions of Africa. The body of the African woman has been dehumanized, raped, tortured, mutilated, exploited, ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, disfigured, sterilized, used for target practice, used as a human bottle, used to “breed.” Last but not least, it has been used in the most brutal and dismissive way, undergone medical experiments, with not so much as a peep of societal outrage. Pioneering gynecological surgeries were performed experimentally, in a steadfast and consistently intentional manner, on melanated women. The Sims speculum was designed and created to “facilitate” experimental gynecological procedures and surgeries on enslaved African women.
People of the world think that they know who we are because of what they see in stereotypes and media portrayals. People of this nation think that they know who we are by way of the same stereotypes and media portrayals arising out of double standards, misinterpretations of history, crime rates, statistics, academic and economic conditions, and entertainment. African American women have a very distinctive label that they carry, beginning in their early teens and lasting until they die, because people think they know exactly who the Black female is.
That label is: Angry.
Yes! African American women are deemed angry. Anytime we raise our voice, disagree with our white counterparts, speak passionately, display frustration, defend ourselves, or don’t “stay in our place,” we are accused of being angry. Even if we are being attacked, and use a tone of voice that is not acceptable by white standards, or does not walk away from the attack, we are righteously accused of being angry.
What I have realized is that there is no circumstance in which it is acceptable for an African American woman to be angry. None. Not one. If she displays such a strong emotion – even if justified – she is critiqued, and in the end, given an “alternative” to how she could or should have reacted.
No one comes to the defense of the African American woman when she is attacked, in pain, wronged or defending herself. If she is killed? Hmph! That’s another conversation for another time. Does the name Sandra Bland ring any bells?
Am I an “Angry Black Woman?” No, I am not. To set the record straight, however, I am an “Unapologetically Angry Black Woman” of African ancestry. I am not sorry. I will not apologize for my anger. Truth be known, I refuse to apologize for my anger. I cannot be made to feel guilty or self-conscious about my anger. I wear it boldly; I wear it proudly; and I recognize that I have every right to feel this way. I was born into a society where my appearance dictates the amount of money, trust, treatment, assistance, education, as well as how much benefit of the doubt I am given.
This nation tells us what we can achieve, yet blocks us every time if we don’t show the amount of white-defined gratitude that is expected, or we don’t display the “acceptable” mannerisms. Oh, and let’s not forget the classic achievement, the goal-, dream-, and self esteem-killer of the “train ’em and then pass over ’em” employment model! It never fails! I am not great with numbers, but I can guarantee that 6 to 8 out of every 10 melanated women can you tell you a story about “training and not gaining” in their professions. Or they can tell you of not getting a job, despite being more qualified, and knowing for a fact that the person who took their place was only barely, or not at all, qualified for the position! Talk about a major slap in the face and knowing that there is nothing you can do about it!
We are now being told blatantly, in a very sophisticated and systematic way, of the value we carry in this nation and in the workforce. Equally crushing is the awareness of how these callous decisions affect our financial ability to support our families as we desire. The ability to thrive in an economic powerhouse, AKA the United States of America, is controlled by the institution of racism.
Some will read this article and feel that I jumped from one thought to another. The fact that there is no fluidity to the theme of the article will be used as a reason by some individuals to not just take my article for what it is – a conversation on racism and its impact on one aspect of the melanated community – but also, they will respond with the questions, “What is your point? What are you trying to say?”
Here is my response to those questions, and ones similar.
This is the story of the African American woman (as well as the Indigenous woman, although that’s another conversation for another time) in this nation. The story, history and lifestyle of each melanated woman may be individually different, but the journey and destination are the same. Our story is not pretty. The abuses against the flesh of the melanated female are engraved in our DNA. In generation after generation after generation, all the way up to present day, the African American female has been victimized in ways that most others simply cannot fathom.
Since the Age of Exploration, when white men went in search of a better life, their ensuing fame and fortune were gained at the cost and destruction of the melanated female body, and at times, also their souls. The African American female body has been at the mercy of the lust, maliciousness, hatred, psychological warfare, image defamation, lies, propaganda, and medical exploitation of the white man as well as white society, since the invasions of Africa and the Americas. Yet, despite this fact, comments such as those recently made by Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka still are made and used as a “defense” by white men to verbally attack Black women, while simultaneously trying to justify their stance on an issue. The white man has conveniently decided to forget about the ongoing historical legacy of verbal and physical brutality against Black females. With that said, I realize they have not forgotten it, but instead, it has just been normalized. “It” has been entrenched and ingrained into the fabric of this nation for so long that “it” has become commonplace.
There will be those who accuse me of generalizing. This is not a generalization. This is a conversation that I am boldly, honestly and rawly having in response to a specific racist comment made by a council member of the city in which I live. He accused African American women of committing “genocide” due to abortions that some have had. This is an interesting comment to make, since statistics released in a state fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute in July 2017 showed that in the state of Maryland, white women have abortions at a higher rate than African American women do. This is just further perpetuation of a double standard laced with lies, criticism, propaganda, and image defamation to discredit the African American woman, and it also holds true to this nation’s historical track record.
Why the anger?
The blatant, and also subliminal, racism that I have experienced tells me I should be angry. The racism that I have witnessed, propagated against both people whom I love and people I don’t know, tells me I have that right. The generational trauma caused by the atrocities of the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow, all the way to present day experiences, tells me I have the right to be angry. I carry the pain and anger of my female ancestors, as well as for them. We have survived so much and are then coldly told to get over it? Are descendants of the Holocaust victims told to get over the genocide of their people? Of course not. Then why are we expected and told to get over our mistreatment? Instead, here in Annapolis, we get accused of trying to exterminate our own race through the deaths of our unborn.
To Councilman Peroutka:
Councilman Peroutka, your callous and racist statement accusing black women of genocide was truly the pot calling the kettle black. I suggest you take a few history classes to relearn ALL of the history of this nation. Better yet, I invite you to a forum held by a group called the Conversation Starters which has monthly forums on race. This setting will allow you to learn from a crash course on the historical impact of racism on communities and this nation.
Allie Simmons is the mother of three, an educator, activist and community organizer. Allie established a business, The Change Starter, LLC as well as founded a coaliton called The Conversations Starters. Both are grounded in educating the masses on racism while dismantling it at the same time; through consistent raw and honest Conversations on race and its issues.
Comments? See our Facebook post.