In the wake of the Solange/ Jay-Z kick down and the hair pulling display of aggression on the Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion show between Porsha Stewart and former Miss USA Kenya Moore, I cannot help but wonder -- are black women the angriest group of women on the planet or does it just seem that way?
It is true, we may never know what sparked Solange's feet of fury in the Standard Hotel elevator that night after the Met Gala, but one thing is for sure: her behavior and serious lack of self-control contributes to the public perception that black women are angrier, more hostile, and likely to handle disputes with fists than other groups of women. This perception of black women as angry is dangerous because it directly impacts how black women are treated in society, in the workplace and whether or not she will be believed when she makes a claim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
The media loves the angry black woman and all of her friends -- the oversexed video vixen, the successful, but highly depressed super woman, and the ratchet, scheming baby mama. They make for good television and social media memes. For networks such as Bravo and VH1, arguably the hit makers of black reality TV, the more outrageous the behavior, the higher the ratings. Even when successful black women doctors are portrayed, they cannot seem to escape the lure of poolside fistfights or ripping one another apart verbally. In short, angry black women are a gold mine.
What about the happy black woman, does she exist? She does, but you would not know it. She is like a purple unicorn. I have rarely seen her represented in the media or in popular culture. Michelle Obama probably comes the closest, but even she, with all of her success, is one neck or eye roll away from being labeled an angry black woman.
White, Asian, and Latino women do not have the same perception problems as black women in the media and dominant culture. For example, there is wide ranging representation of white women in the media from the successful businesswoman to the stay-at-home mom, and everything in between. So it is no big deal when Miley Cyrus rides a wrecking ball naked because all you have to do is flip the channel to find an alternative. This is not the case for black women.
And although Latino and Asian women encounter specific cultural stereotypes, the exploitation of these stereotypes in the media and dominant culture for significant profit has not occurred in the same way as it has for black women. Entire media empires and careers have been built on the backs and exploitation of black women.
Feet of fury and provoking scepter aside, black women are not angrier or more hostile than other groups of women -- it just seems that way. As such, we should all do more to challenge the authenticity of the images presented to us and encourage diverse portrayals of black women and men in the media and society.