It’s a question many social justice activists get from those who are more than contempt with the way things are. When we are asked this question, it’s never out of genuine interest about the things we are passionate with; the inflection in the inquisitor’s voice is one of befuddlement, agitation, annoyance that you are committed to rocking the boat in the name of full equality.
I can’t tell you how many times this question has been hurled at me. It’s usually from some oblivious soul who is oblivious of (usually) his privilege. It’s usually from some asshat whose blinders have become so attached to his eyes that removing them will most likely consist of microscopic surgery.
The most recent inquiry actually came from a loved one. I didn’t answer the question right away, because I knew it was rhetorical and asked out of frustration on being on the receiving end of my rants. So, in an attempt to explain why I was at that moment fitting into his stereotype of the angry black woman, here are just a few things I’m angry about:
I am angry because I am a black woman who lives in a society that devalues my dark skin, my kinky hair, my thick lips and big hips and other ethnic features that are only lauded if placed on women of European ancestry.
I am angry because black women’s “woes” have been dissected and packaged for public consumption and our so-called marriage crisis has become yet another thing for whiteness to gawk at and analyze for their
I am angry because people have used the statistics on the number of black children born out of wedlock and black marriage rates to brainwash black women to believe that we–only we–need to be held accountable for our community’s “problems.”
I am angry because pushers of “black love” often criticize black women who refuse to tow the line on the same tired narrative of black women in America: strong, stoic, unwomanly and more than willing to be alone rather than expanding her dating/mating options.
I am angry because my reproductive organs are constantly used as political footballs by right-wing reactionary conservatives hell-bent on stripping away my constitutional right to an abortion.
I am angry because if I am raped, I will ask questions such as, “why did you go running at that time of day,” “what were you wearing,” “did you fight back,” or “why did you invite him to your place if you didn’t want it” while my actual rapist won’t face such an inquisition.
I am angry because I live in a world where girls like Amber Cole are widely criticized for their actions while the guys she gave oral sex to walk away unscathed.
I am angry because I live in a world where oppressed cultures and peoples are fair game for appropriation only when whiteness deems them cool and hip.
I am angry because the black community routinely turns a blind eye to the capitalist forces that exploit, degrade and dehumanize black women and children.
I am angry because white people feel they have a right to touch my kinky hair, neglecting any sense of autonomy, privacy and respect me and my black body are entitled to.
I am angry because white feminists fail to check their privilege and have consistently proven themselves unworthy of alliance by not speaking out on the racist, sexist attacks on Michelle Obama.
I am angry because white feminists can’t accept the fact that feminism leaves no room for women of color, trans women, disabled women or women who are poor.
I am angry because feminism routinely preaches solidarity, yet makes no time to address issues that aren’t primarily the concern of white, middle to upper-middle class, cisgendered straight able-bodied women.
I am angry because the traditional LGBTQ community routinely appropriates the Civil Rights Movement, but refuses to check its own privilege and racism when it comes to the marginalization of people of color in the LGBTQ community.
I am angry because the traditional LGBTQ community blamed the Prop 8’s passage in California on the homophobia of the black community, but didn’t label majority white states as uniquely homophobic when other anti-gay measures passed.
I am angry when white men feel they have the authority to appropriate the lives and experiences of Middle Eastern citizens, only to act confused at why they’ve experienced so much backlash.
I am angry when I see white women participating in the SlutWalk movement believe women are the niggers of the world and act shocked at the backlash.
I am angry because my race can be used as the reason why I’m late to work, publish an error in one of my articles, or the reason why I lose my cool with a source.
I am angry because my race gives people the opportunity to doubt my professionalism, my dedication and my ability to effectively do my job just as well as my white, male or female, counterpart.
I am angry because my black skin, thick lips and hips and kinky hair are only appealing to a certain group of white men after dark and after a few drinks.
I am angry because being a black female means that I can’t be raped, used or abused.
I am angry because whiteness has equated my black skin, thick lips and hips and kinky hair as being lascivious in nature, thus fair game for male groping, touching and violation.
I am angry because fat shaming and the relentless promotion of the thin, blonde woman as the ideal forces me to believe that skipping meals to fit into an overpriced bikini will somehow make me hot.
I am angry because the fatty police feel it’s okay to exploit the bodies of fat children to communicate the dangers of childhood obesity and to fat shame their parents into making their children fat.
I am angry because fat shaming has become so entrenched in our culture that dieting and counting calories have become common place in the lives of toddlers and young children.
I am angry because my black womanhood has been used as a villain by politicians looking to cut social services.
I am angry because my black womanhood automatically makes me desirable as a mammy, but I can’t be trusted to raise my own children.
I am angry because the only images of black women I see in the media are either loud, angry, boisterous, arrogant or promiscuous.
I am angry because cable networks believe there’s money to be made with exploiting parents who allow their five-year-old daughters to resemble hookers and prostitutes in the name of beauty contests.
I am angry because after nearly 20 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act, many of those who are disabled continue to face public spaces that aren’t fit to accommodate them.
I am angry because I’m surrounded by people who somehow believe that making sidewalks/pedestrian areas ADA compliant is a waste of money because “no one will ever use them.”
I am angry because ableism is often masked as commending a person with a disability for being “brave” and “courageous” for living life.
I am angry because those who care for those who are disabled are often lauded as super-humans who give up their lives to care for dependent disabled folks.
I am angry that children with special needs often have to attend schools where they are faced with ineffectual staff members who haven’t a clue on how to deal with them and their needs.
I am angry because ableism allows society to somehow believe that disabled people have no interest in their sexuality or other measures of pleasure able-bodied people take for granted.
I am angry because society believes that those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, do not deserve the liberty to marry whomever they wish.
I am angry because society allows people to hide behind their religion to practice full-scale bigotry.
I am angry because some media outlets feel it’s okay to edit a young black boy’s comments to make him appear like a miniature thug, a future delinquent the criminal justice system will eventually have to deal with.
I am angry because society consistently tells me I’m less of a woman if I don’t want children or if I don’t care for the patriarchal forces of marriage.
I am angry because the forces of patriarchy compel a woman to give up any sense of identity and take on her husband’s surname in the name of tradition.
I am angry because anti-abortion activists feel it’s okay to appropriate slavery and my lived experiences as a black woman in a racist country to rollback my reproductive rights.
I am angry because anti-abortion activists have no problem with labeling my black female uterus as the most dangerous place for a black baby.
I am angry because my fellow trans sisters and brothers are routinely disrespected, degraded, abused, maimed and murdered in the black community as well as society at large. I am angry because the black community continues to reduce and erase the experiences of black trans women and men.
I am angry because the black community continues to turn its back on its GLBTQ brothers and sisters, often using harmful homophobic ideology masked as religion to justify oppression and hatred.
I am angry because the black community continues to ignore the destruction of HIV/AIDS by using a vengeful, eye-for-an-eye ideology masked as Christianity to justify their belief that those inflicted with the virus and syndrome got what they deserved.
That’s quite a bit to be angry about and any social justice activist dedicated to dismantling privilege can’t turn the other cheek from those dilemmas. So, my response to anyone who wants to question the passion of a social justice activists would be, “Well, why aren’t you angry?”