It’s time to stop being afraid of Black women. Like, I’m tired of it. Can someone please tell me why when people see a confident Black woman she is to be feared? This stereotype of the “angry Black woman” is starting to literally make me angry. This worldview of us is old and played out like anti-skip portable CD players.
As you all are aware, I have a full-time job and a side few hours a week job at the mall. Because I’ve been so busy with my full-time job and my Ph.D. classes, I haven’t necessarily been working my few hours a week job. Before last Thursday, I hadn’t worked since February 27th and before that I believe it was the beginning of February. Anyway, when I worked on February 27th, I didn’t bring anything to work but my coat, keys, and wallet so there was no reason for me to go into my locker. I arrived this past Thursday, (March 15th) and was greeted by some coworkers.
“Wow, it’s been so long since we’ve seen you!”
After a couple of fake smiles and forced chuckles, I went to the back to put my purse in my locker. When I opened my locker, there was a red and pink gift bag in it with my name on it. I instantly got extra excited because I love surprises and I love when people do nice things for me sometimes. I opened the bag and saw that it was a valentine’s gift from one of the managers, a White woman. There was a bag of trailmix and some gum along with a card inside. Still smiling, I opened the card and this is what it said:
Happy Valentine’s Day – “Even though you scare me there’s always a laugh somewhere too ❤ (insert her name here)”
…even though you scare me…
Now, mind you. This manager is one who I close the store with, alone, quite often and there’s never been a time where we’ve had an bad confrontations. We are always joking around on our radios and in person. So, as you can probably guess, I was pissed. I almost started thinking “what is it about me that would make her scared of me?” But then I left that thought behind and switched my brain to what I knew what had happened: this White woman was scared of me simply because I am a Black woman. This microaggression was her way of letting me know this. For those of you who believe Black people are always trying to make things about race, let me define what a microaggression is for you. A microaggression, according to Pittman (2012) are “subtle, stunning, often automatic exchanges which are put downs of Blacks by offenders”. Now, microaggressions can happen to other marginalized identities as well. Pittman’s study just focused specifically on Black women. If you need further explanation of microaggressions, let me direct your attention to this YouTube Video and my written examples below:
You look really pretty, today.
You’re so pretty for a dark skinned girl.
I didn’t know you could speak English so well.
You look exotic.
Willis (2015) tells us that microaggressions can also be nonverbal. An example of this is a person clutching their bag tighter when Black men walk by.
These examples aren’t just salient to Black women, I’m sure other identities have heard something similar in regards to who they are.
This fear people have of Black women is the reason why we feel like we are drowning in predominantly white spaces. It is the reason why we have to often put smiley faces and exclamation marks in our emails. It is the reason why we have to stop and think about our choice of words so it doesn’t seem like we have an attitude. We have to move differently even though we are dying to always be our authentic selves. Because our identities of being Black and a woman always intersect, it is hard for us to move about the world without thinking about them. The world doesn’t see us as just one or the other, either.
This instance that occurred at my few hours a week job wasn’t the first time I’ve been in situations where microaggressions were thrown at me like a two-day notice that Beyonce dropped tickets for a tour. I’ve experienced them at the mouths of white men, at the fingertips of white women over email or a handwritten notes, even from my own “brothas” -Black men- who feel I’m intimidating because I’m tall and don’t smile often.
Maybe your fear has to do with your own insecurities about yourself. Maybe the fact that I am working to make it on my own, have two degrees and working on a third one, have my own blog, I travel, and I speak up for myself is what makes you afraid. Ultimately, I could care less. It is not Black women’s job to make you feel comfortable. Get rid of this stereotype that we’re always angry and if you have something to say to us or about us, that we are going to go off. When in all reality, we only go off when we need to. We handle constructive criticism extremely well and only pushback if we know your facts are completely wrong. But let me be clear, if I was angry, I have a right to be for whatever reason upset me.
About the valentine’s card. I asked her about it and she said that she wasn’t afraid of me. I scared her because of how much I make her laugh and she says “you scare me to everybody who makes” her laugh. -__- . Not a good enough answer.
And I’m pretty sure no one else’s card said “even though you scare me” in them.
*insert eye roll here* Queen T.