The ABW: Angry Black Woman

by Lola Bode

The long-lived stereotype of the infamous “angry black woman” haunts me. As a woman of color myself, I constantly live in an ideology of not “over-opinionating” for the sake of my reputation. I’d rather not sound like a professor of African-American women studies, but for as long as I can remember, the shouting, sassy, “don’t bullshit the bullshitter,” attitude of black women is all I saw in the media. Growing up watching television shows and seeing a woman of color pop up on screen, their character seemed to always be plagued as the fierce, “hold my hoops,” best friend or the rude and short-tempered nurse. Rarely did I see a calm and collected, independent black woman (and if I did, it was usually a ruse before the character starting throwing pans or throwing hands). As I got older, I learned (or rather heard) about the stereotype to try to break away from as a strong black girl; the stereotype of the ABG.

I don’t fully identify with black myself as I am mixed, so in a lot of ways, I felt like I had an advantage that some of my peers did not. I had the advantage of not necessarily “looking black” and the advantage of going to two very progressive, “love every kind of person,” schools. It seems that things are getting better media-wise, with shows such as Insecure that follows a self-sufficient millennial black woman and her friends. Or the constant stream of new musical hits from artists such as The Queen herself, Beyonce, Afro-Latina rapper Cardi B, or the new RnB/pop singer Sza. I find myself still surfacing these ideas of the ABW, whether it is Beyonce’s album Lemonade which features her throwing off her wedding ring after singing a song titled “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Or her smashing a baseball bat through a fire hydrant during her song “Hold Up.” What frustrated me is not actually the acts of rage shown during the HBO album movie Lemonade, but was the fact that I first associated it with the stereotype of an ABW rather than a wife who was hurt by her spouse. I was angry at myself for assuming this album was “just another angry black lady.” And that was coming from me, an avid member of the beehive.

That’s when I decided that black women had a lot to actually be angry for. That’s when I realized that black women deserved to be angry. It’s angry black women and men alike who fought for basic civil rights and won it. The angry black women were empowered women. They are empowered women. These are hard-working women who are always misunderstood. Not only is it hard to be a woman in America, but to be a black woman in America, working full-time you would’ve earned 61 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men earned in 2017. As said by Malcolm X, "The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black Woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black Woman."