Tag Archives racial stereotypes

What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman?

It seems as though Black women in America are not allowed to express anger, otherwise we're seen as combative, mean or "having an attitude." So what emotions are we allowed to show? | Read more on The Girl Next Door is BlackYears ago, my visiting sister and I were teasing each other about one of those random topics siblings joke about. My roommate overheard us as she climbed the stairs in our apartment and gently admonished us:

“Now girls, don’t fight.”

My sister and I turned to each other with the same puzzled expression. We weren’t fighting. We were joking around, having a good time. What was she talking about?

I considered my roommate’s perspective: she saw two sisters in conversation with raised voices, using animated gestures.

I studied the situation from a different angle: my not-black roommate, saw two black women being loud and assumed we were fighting. This is the same roommate whom I once heard describe me to a white friend who’d asked about her new roommate, as “African-American from a middle class family,” and I wondered what my race or socioeconomic class had to do with anything.

That situation stuck with me all these years later and led me to review past and future encounters with different lenses.

America (specifically, the USA) thinks black women are loud. America finds a black woman with a raised voice angry and potentially threatening. Don’t believe me? Google: “loud black women” or “angry black woman.”

A few days ago, rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted out her frustration that her big booty-full, controversy-generating Anaconda video was overlooked for a Video of the Year Award by MTV. Soon after, media darling and America’s archetypal sweetheart, singer Taylor Swift, inserted herself into the situation, which was NOT ABOUT HER, tweeting Minaj with her hurt feelings and ivory tears.

A flurry of comments followed from Minaj, Swift, their loyal fanbases (the “Barbz” and the “Swifties”) and the media. On Air with/Ryan Seacrest got in the fray, framing the events in Swift’s favor:

It seems as though Black women in America are not allowed to express anger, otherwise we're seen as combative, mean or "having an attitude." So what emotions are we allowed to show? | Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black

The tweet has since been deleted since they were called out by the many who saw what actually happened. I took a screenshot because I knew their hot racist bullshit would be retracted. Nicki did not “jab” Taylor Swift. She addressed the erasure of black women in music and the double standards in societal standards of beauty.

Black women whom, as she said, “influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.” Think about how many of your favorite songs are sung, written or produced by black women. Now include the women who sing background for some of your beloved artists. Never receiving proper credit for their contribution to songs which, without them, wouldn’t be the hits they are.

Perhaps Nicki was angry. Is she not entitled to feel anger? Frustration? Just being a black woman in the United States is reason is enough to be angry sometimes. She got angry and tweeted her discontent – likely to start a discussion. She used her words to vent. Dylann Roof, a white male, got angry and killed 9 black people after they welcomed him into their church.

Yesterday, I watched as Access Hollywood continued the portrayal of Nicki Minaj as an angry black woman, even going so far as to list all the times she dissed the show.

 

Meanwhile, Taylor was let of the hook for being oblivious and distracting from a racial discussion with her self-involvement. “Poor innocent Taylor”, attacked by that vicious, “angry black woman”.  They ignored the opportunity to elevate a real world, important issue – tied to pop culture, therefore relevant –  to center a white woman and her feelings. Racism? Yeah, that sucks, but what about Taylor’s feelings about how that mean ol’ black woman treated her?!

Sandra Bland, the young black woman from Texas (an “African-American from a middle class family”) who was arrested for “switching lanes” and somehow ended up hanged in her jail cell three days later, has been accused of being “combative” with the arresting officer – as though that would excuse murdering her!

Let’s see:

You’re a black woman minding your business, happily driving to your new job, where you’ll be helping others, when you notice you’re being trailed by a cop. No person with dark skin in the United States wants to be followed by a police officer. So you switch lanes, hoping he’s not, in fact, following you. You’re not doing anything wrong, as far as you know, but you’re pulled over.

The officer speaks to you like you’re beneath him and becomes increasingly agitated during what should have been a routine stop. When you ask, at least 14 times, why you’re being arrested, you don’t get an answer and are physically abused. I don’t know about you, but I’d be angry as hell. I am angry just writing about it.

I am angry.

Black women are being diminished, degraded and dehumanized in the media and in our real lives because racist people find our righteous anger scary. That makes me angry.

It makes me VERY FUCKING ANGRY.

But, I can’t be angry. Black women get fired for being angry. We get derided for being angry. We get killed for being “angry.”

I can come back from losing a job. I’ll survive being mocked. But please, tell me how I am allowed to behave that won’t get me killed?

 

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Why I Don’t Eat Watermelon in Public

Racists really need to update their stereotype references. When it comes to black people at least, they seem stuck on…well, they’re stuck on stupid, as many of us know, but also stuck in the old days. Music evolves, the amount of clothing women wear (or don’t wear) evolves, our language evolves, yet racist Americans don’t appear to take pride in their racism enough to keep up with the times.

For example, Jennifer Olsen, chairwoman of Yellowstone County’s Republican committee in Montana, allegedly shared the following “hilarious” image with her Facebook followers:

Racist post by Jennifer Olsen of Montana, read more on The Girl Next Door is Black
The alleged post

She denies any involvement with this posting. In short, she says a hater is responsible. I’m sure her best friend is black, she prays to the black Jesus everyday of Black History Month and loves a scrumptious Kwanzaa cake. In 2000, Montana had a black population of less than half a percent. HALF A PERCENT! Where exactly are all these black people who Jennifer – oops, I mean, Jennifer’s hater”- sees indulging in watermelon grubfests?

Where do these racists get their black-people-eat stereotypes? Is there a watermelon eating show on BET that I don’t know about? Um, also, because people keep forgetting, President Obama is half-white, so…

These racists need to up their game. If you’re going to decide that all people of one race (ignoring that all of us humans are ridiculously genetically similar) eat the same things, at least be current people! For you racists, I submit three popular black-people-eat stereotypes that are old as hell and implore you to consider modernizing your racist jokes.

Watermelon

Sambo and the Watermelon stereotype | The Girl Next Door is Black
Played out
source

This racial weapon has been around since the days of slavery. Watermelon was one of the foods masters deigned to feed their captives. Slavery has ended; this black chick is free and happily riffing on racists. So why does the watermelon obsession persist? Why are some racists so fixated on black people eating watermelon?

Are their hordes of black people across America buying up all the watermelon, keeping them from melon-loving racists? Was there a run on watermelon during the depression and black people were first in line, hogging the watermelon from the other poor, starving, depressed non-black folk? Do some people have a watermelon allergy and are thus jealous of those of us that can easily digest the juicy melon? Do watermelons speak to black people in special language?

Hey black girl, I wanna be in yo’ belly. Let’s do this!

Do we look hotter eating watermelon? Maybe I should try this: sit down at a public place, chow down on some watermelon, wind machine blowing a breeze through my hair, making seductive eyes at my luscious, red fruit and see how many men start throwing themselves at me. Ah, sweet watermelon, thank you for getting me a man!

You know what’s interesting? China is the largest producer of watermelon. The USDA led a super-important study on the lives of watermelon. Know what they found? Asian people actually consume a whole lotta this melon. More than black people. So BAM, racists! Check your stats, fools!

Asian Male Female Eating Watermelon | The Girl Next Door is Black
Look at that: Asian people eat fried chicken too!

These lame racists living in the past don’t care though. This is why I don’t eat watermelon in mixed company: stereotype threat.

From time to time I’ll order a side of fruit at brunch. Sometimes, watermelon is in that mix. I don’t request it specifically; it just shows up in the bowl. If there are suspect people nearby who seem overly interested in the fruits of my bowl, I’ll loudly say to the server, loudly enough to be overheard, using my best diction: “Excuuuuuse me, sir. I did not ask for this wayward melon. It repulses meeeeeuh. Soooo guh-ross! It’s unnatural. Take it away. I said: take it away, sir! Have you people never heard of apples? Darn watermelon ruining the fabric of our society! Have a good day, sir. I said, GOOD DAY!”

Fried Chicken

Offensive Caricature Black Man Eating Fried Chicken  | The Girl Next Door is Black
Old and tired | source

Another old stereotype. Wouldn’t you know, black Americans and eating chicken goes back to the days of slavery? Chickens were one of the few animals slaves were allowed to own.

People eat fried chicken throughout the world: it’s popular in the American South among not just black people, but Southerners of all colors. If you’ve ever go to a Japanese restaurant and order “chicken katsu”, you’re presented with a patty of fried chicken. Koreans have their own version of fried chicken. Visit one of the many fried chicken shops in Los Angeles’s Koreatown and you’ll see not just Koreans enjoying it, but white hipsters too!

Paula Deen with fried chicken, not a black woman, by the way src: http://pixgood.com/black-person-fried-chicken.html
Paula Deen with fried chicken. She is not a black woman, by the way

As mentioned in a previous post, I stopped eating fried chicken in high school. Fried food = fatty boombatty. No thanks. However. Yes, HOWEVER. I do love Popeye’s, mainly for the red beans and rice, but the chicken is pretty hot and tasty.

I do not enter Popeye’s in recognizable form. My alter ego, Diane, goes. Diane seems like a ethnically-neutral name, right? I’ve met Dianes of all colors. Diane wears a red wig, think Carrot Top’s style:a big curly mop. She also dons a white theater mask (the comedy one, not the sad tragedy one). She speaks in a deep, saccharine, Southern drawl:

“Hey y’all, I’m just a sweet ole girl from Jo’gia. I love me some fried chicken. Mmm, mmm, mmm, deep down in my churchin’ soul. Y’all know how you go to church and you just feel the spirit of the Lawd in ya? That’s how I feel when I get me some Popeye’s. Mmm. Mmm. What’s that? My mask is scary? Well, you know, I got protect myself from the cancer. That skin cancer’ll kill ya. Thanks for the chicken. Have a nice day, y’all!”

Kool-Aid (Oh yeah!)

Kool-Aid is cheap as hell. If you are trying to save a dollar or quench the thirst of a large family who enjoys uber-sugary bevvies on a tight budget, Kool-Aid is an option. If you aspire to have a crayon-colored tongue, get you some Kool-Aid. If you just like the taste of artificial powders: hell yeah, Kool-Aid. Me, I haven’t had Kool-Aid since I was a kid. Though I do love a good Kool-Aid man cameo on Family Guy.

Some more knowledge for you racists, Kool-Aid was invented by a white man in Nebraska in the 1920s. Nebraska had how many black people then? Like 2? And who engineered a cult’s group suicide making the term “Drinking the Kool-Aid” part of our lexicon: Jim Jones. Not black, not even brownish. Kool-Aid started with white people. So suck it.

I am black, therefore I am an expert on what this black person eats. Should you be the type to assume that what one black person does, all black people do, here are some ideas for new racial stereotypes. Try: spinach, low-fat milk, Sour Patch Kids, protein shakes, udon noodle soup, sushi, wonton noodle soup, pasta, coffee, fajitas, crawfish…

If you’re stuck on stupid and find yourself obsessed with what black people eat, ask yourself this: what is so shameful or insult-worthy about eating healthy fruit, tasty chicken or washing it all down with a sickeningly-sweet, cold beverage? Perhaps you are the one with the issue?