The angry Black woman stereotype has ceased to fade away

The angry Black woman is defined as an African-American woman who is sassy, ill-mannered and ill-tempered by nature. The stereotype dates back to 19th century America when minstrel shows created comic skits mocking Black people’s physical features. The 1930s show “Amos ‘n’ Andy” was one of the first modern depictions of the stereotype with its character Mrs. Sapphire, a overly sassy Black woman. Even though the stereotype has changed over time, the media still seem to portray African-American women in a negative light.

In movies and TV shows, the angry Black woman is often used as comedic relief. Black filmmaker Tyler Perry makes movies targeted to African-Americans, but his films seems to only portray Black men positively.

In Perry’s 2007 film, “Why Did I Get Married?”, and 2012 film “Think Like A Man,” lead female characters were depicted as angry Black women constantly looking to start an argument. The lead character in many of Perry’s films, Madea, played by Perry himself, is another negative portrayal of Black women, an aggressive convict and poor, single mother.

The stereotype is also present on social platforms. Instagram comedians often mimic Black women by putting on wigs and acting out skits, showing African-American women as aggressive. Kwaylon Rogers, known on Instagram as @blameitonkway, is a social media comedian who performs skits highlighting the stereotype. When these depictions are showcased on social platforms and in the media, subconscious beliefs about Black women are created, which can have negative implications in society.

 Cartoon of Serena Williams at the U.S Open final. Illustrated by Mark Knight for the Herald Sun, a news publication in Melbourne, Australia. Photo obtained from Slate.

Cartoon of Serena Williams at the U.S Open final. Illustrated by Mark Knight for the Herald Sun, a news publication in Melbourne, Australia. Photo obtained from Slate.

The stereotype prevailed in the sports world when Serena Williams was penalized at the U.S. Open Final on Sept. 8. She received a code violation for breaking her racquet and calling the umpire a thief. Australian cartoonist Mark Knight published a racist illustration of Williams that featured the same physical characteristics that Blacks were made fun of in minstrel shows: big lips, heavy-set build and nappy hair.

It’s easy to use African-American woman for a good laugh, but Black women view these depictions differently.

“It seems impossible to be a Black woman and not be angry after generations of oppression, discrimination and erasure,” said Robin Boylorn, an intercultural communications professor at the University of Alabama.

If anything, it’s a surprise Black women aren’t as consumed by anger as they should be considering the struggles they currently and will continue to face. Yet, given how Black women are portrayed in the media, it’s as if society wants them to be angry. Men are allowed to be upset as a way to demonstrate their masculinity. White women are allowed to be irate, too. But Black women aren’t allowed to express irritation without being demonized.