For a little more than two weeks, New York Times TV critic, Alessandra Stanley’s characterization of Shonda Rhimes as an “angry black woman,” has ruled the headlines and ironically, angered thousands of other black women across the country with her trite stereotype.
Maybe I’m a little different because I didn’t feel anger. Instead, I felt motivated. When most black women were asking the question: Who does this chick think she is for insulting the award-winning creator of Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and the ratings powerhouse, “How to Get Away with Murder,” I was asking: What’s wrong with being an angry black woman?
I’ve always told my daughter it’s not necessarily the name they call you that matters, only her response to it. There’s a lot of power in the phrase, “angry black woman.” And, rather than run from it, I’ve tried teaching her to embrace it.
- When statistics show that black women are murdered by men at a rate more than two and a half times higher than white women (Violence Policy Center, 2013), I tell her it’s okay to be outraged enough to stand up to violence because no man has the right to lay his hands on her or any other woman.
- When society says that professional success means she’ll never be married to an equally or even more successful black man, I tell her it’s okay to become indignant about having to lower her standards to accommodate others. While it’s true that roughly 70 percent of black women in America are single, I say, don’t be pressured to settle for “Mr. Right Now.” I tell her, “Just do you, boo,” and “Mr. Right” will come along.
- When it’s revealed that roughly 35 percent of the S&P 250 don’t have a single black board member – male or female (Black Enterprise Magazine, 2013), I tell her it’s okay to be incensed and commit herself to becoming the change she wants to see.
- When she finds out that 72 percent of all teen births in 2012 happened to girls who are in her current age bracket (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2013), I tell her it’s okay to get heated and buck the trend by staying in school and getting her education.
If being outraged, offended, incensed, and heated motivates my daughter to take a stand, be true to herself, commit to making positive change and get an education, I tell her it’s okay.