When I asked Kim for some guest blog ideas, she sent me several. And they were all awesome. But the Angry Black Woman Syndrome particularly caught my eye. There’s long been a stereotype, (based in truth?) that Black women are more difficult than others. Is this fact? Fiction? Somewhere in between? Kim thought she was on one side of the debate. Her husband thought differently.
Good stuff here. Check it:
I’m Not An Angry Black Woman. Am I?
By Kimberly Woods
“So, what’s on tonight?” my husband asked, as we settled down to watch a movie together.
“Some crazy movie I borrowed from a friend,” I said with a laugh. It’s called Diary of a Tired Black Man.
“I guess, but it’ll probably be silly…”
For the next hour, I cuddled with hubby and learned all about these women suffering from ABS – Angry Black Woman Syndrome. Tim Alexander, the writer/director of the film, says that women who “grow up in fatherless homes, hearing their aunts and grandmothers saying black men are no good and hearing that opinion reinforced in the media, grow up to be angry adult women.”
Just as I suspected – ABS was for those ‘other’ women. My life wasn’t anything like that.
I grew up in a somewhat normal household with both of my parents. My female relatives weren’t black men bashers and I make it a point to show husband my appreciation as often as I can.
I found no connection with that movie or Angry Black Woman Syndrome whatsoever. In fact, I ended up falling asleep in the middle of the movie. The next morning, my husband stuck his face into the doorway of my home office.
“You need to make time today to watch the rest of that movie,” he said.
And with that, he went back downstairs.
I chuckled, and called out after him, “Sure, I’ll watch it.”
Later, I watched the entire movie. It did nothing for me. Still didn’t see myself in the caricatures of Black women with hands on their hips and swiveling necks.
But was my husband trying to tell me something?
I walked to the kitchen and smiled sweetly. My husband was washing the dinner dishes.
“Baby, do you think I have Angry Black Woman Syndrome?” I asked.
He didn’t even hesitate: “Yeah.”
The way he answered so quickly indicated that I should’ve known this already.
“For real,” I said. “You think I have ABS?”
My husband looked up from the dishes and locked eyes with me.
“Yes, you do. And it’s because you like to control ev-very-thing.”
I tried to stop myself from making a screw face. I failed.
“Come on,” my husband said. “ You know it’s true. One word: Driving.”
My husband walked out of the kitchen. I had a flashback:
We were on the parkway, grooving to music; both stoked to have time to ourselves. We were chatting about our favorite scenes in Wolverine when I found myself distracted by cars whizzing by. I looked at the speedometer. Why was he doing 50mph? I had a gazillion things to do when I got home! With each passing car, I became more and more frustrated.
“You can’t drive any faster than this?” I asked.
“What’s the rush,” my husband asked. ” I’m doing the speed limit.”
“Yeah, I can see that, but you’re not even keeping up with the flow of traffic…”
Just then, another SUV zoomed by, nearly side-swiping us.
“See what I mean!?” I said. “I gotta get home. You either need to speed up or let me drive…”
“Look, we don’t have to pick up the kids for another two hours…”
“That’s why I need to get home! I’ve got a laundry list of things to do and I’m behind on all of them and you’re not helping by driving SO DAMN SLOW…”
“See that’s your problem,” my husband said. ” You gotta stop rushing so damn much.” He sighed deeply. “I mean, damn baby, it’s a nice day…Why can’t you just chill?”
I snapped out of my flashback. Maybe there were some small, sliver of truth what he was saying. Kindred, an R&B group that I love, has a song called “Woman First.”
In the song, there is a line: when you’re a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother and everybody needs you more than the other; it’s so very easy to lose you.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve lost my mind dealing with all the duties of being a working mom. My brain doesn’t shift into neutral easily, so my patience occasionally runs a bit thin.
But I can testify that ABS doesn’t just come from dealing with black men. The scope of my life is much broader:
Taking my kindness for weakness makes me angry.
Having to pay student loans when education should be free in this country makes me angry.
The lack of affordable healthcare in this country makes me angry.
But why should my anger be judged differently just because I’m a black woman? I’d rather roll with AWS – Angry Woman Syndrome because I wholeheartedly believe that ALL women can suffer from this issue.
The director of the movie I watched with my husband is convinced that Black women in general are angrier than others.
I’m not buying it.
But it’s an idea that has permeated our culture for years. Michelle Obama was charged with Angry Black Woman-ness when she said, after Obama’s nomination, that it was the first time in her adult life that she had been proud of her country. The idea of her temperament was discussed throughout the election.
In pop culture, Black woman are often portrayed as having attitude, particularly toward our men.
That’s not who I am. Do I get angry? Sure. Is it a central part of my Blackness? No.
Anger, in general, is not good. I know it’s not healthy to go stone-cold nuts over little things and I’m working through my stressors. For starters, I’m doing my morning yoga routine again and I’ve cut back on my caffeinated drinks. I’ve even found a way to chill out in the car – reading!
Hubby’s so satisfied with my progress that we’re planning our first road trip to Disney this summer and guess what – he’s doing the bulk of the driving! I’m confident I’ll be ready to trade my speedometer-monitoring for some good ‘ole summer reading.
Does this mean I’ll never be angry again? Of course not. I’ll definitely get angry. But it won’t be because I’m a Black woman. It will be because I’m human.
Kim ‘Soulfull’ Woods is a Business Analyst for a major news outlet and an aspiring novelist. Though her main blog, Soulfull of Thoughts, has a case of SPS (Sporadic Posting Syndrome), she’s often found in Twitterville, tweeting about her love for R&B music and her zany life as a working mom.
Soulfull’s thoughts have been featured on/in AOL.com, CBSnews.com, Columbia Journalism Review – CJR Daily, The Washington Post Newspaper – Express Edition, Wonkette and now Aliyasking.com!
Dear readers: Last night, as I was preparing this post, I asked TH if I had ABS. He buried his head in his laptop and mumbled something I couldn’t quite make out. I do get angry sometimes. My neck will swivel. My pointer finger will begin to rise. But I’m with Kim, I think that’s all women. We’re emotional creatures. I can’t cosign on ABS. Can you?
Kim and I would love to hear from you…