Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Fear of Black Anger. . .

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog entry.

In fact, two.

In two separate incidents –- one involving my poetry and one involving this blog -– yours truly has been questioned about her (supposed) “anger.”

“You are one angry woman” one person commented after reading entries.

Yet another person commented “Why do you always talk about racial oppression in your poems? People want to be entertained, not beat over the head with that stuff.”

Well, hmmm. . .

No one questions the validity of the anger of an innocent victim whose life has been high-jacked by a crime of violence or a random circumstance (such as having a fatal illness, losing a child, loss of loved ones or material possessions because of a natural disaster, etc.).

Yet just about everyone questions the validity of African American “anger” over generations of victimization.

In our society, anger is invalidated as a negative, unproductive emotion, and Black anger is too often seen as being not only “rebellious” but as inciting insurrection.

Black anger is always connected –- by mainstream society -– to the threat and perception of violence and destruction, divorced from any historical context. The extent to which Black anger is referenced in news reports and the public feeds this perception. It disassociates reactions to injustice and hopelessness and views them from a white, ahistoric lens that perpetuates the stereotypes of randomly lawless Black men and women (although there are some of those. . .as well as lawless white, Latino, Asian American and other men and women, too. But that is another topic. . .).

This same lens ignores and/or supports the refusal of individual cities and overall society in acknowledging or demanding justice for those negatively affected by the same unjust systems that benefit and support white privilege.

Black anger in the face of injustice needs to be validated as being a “just” response, as appropriate –- if not more so -- than immediate forgiveness and understanding of continuing injustice.

We need to assume –- as we did after 9/11, after the Columbine attack, after this newest incident at Virginia Tech, after any incident in which greater society is injured -- that anger in the face of injustice is a positive response for a people who, through that anger, work through grief, fight for justice, and find their way through to forgiveness once justice has been satisfied and reparations made.

Validating Black anger as a “normal” response in the face of historic and sustained injustice – just as we validate the emotion of anger in any other instance of personal or institutional injustice -- can help fuel possibilities, hope, and achievement in the African American community.

Working to understand Black anger –- instead of just dismissing it -- can also help white people, if they open their hearts and minds to really listen past the stereotypical fears that have been drummed into them since birth and understand the depths of generations of hurt and pain that the system of Amerikkkan Apartheid and white supremacist philosophy and structure (and those who practice and/or tacitly support even the most “benign” forms of it) have caused African Americans and other People of Color to endure.

If it is true that “the truth shall set you free”, then it is also true that anger can help heal.

In my opinion, the question should never be “Why are you still angry in the face of continuing oppression?”

To me, the question should be:

• If you get angry about standing in a long line at the store. . .
• If you get angry about being cut off in traffic. . .
• If you get angry when your team loses a game. . .
• If you get angry about any of the little things in daily life that we
allow to irritate and aggravate us. . .

Then how can you NOT be angry in the face of continuing oppression –- whether you are one of the oppressed or a part of the group benefiting from the oppression -- if you believe in the concept of justice?

The “angry” people I know care about righting the wrong of injustice. The “angry” people I know are all using that emotion in ways that motivate and effect change!! The “angry” people I know are not giving up or “going along to get along”; they are working in their communities and helping people that “mainstream” society gave up on long ago.

They are having a sane response in the face of enormous injustice.

Their –- our -– “anger” helps us know that we still feel; that we are not jaded by “the way things are”; that we have not given up on the fight to change things for the better for “the least of us”; that we still have a pulse.

And if you are not “angry” in the face of massive injustice, you might want to check yours (smile).

Let’s chew on that one until next time.

Moving Forward,



  1. This is a brilliant post and shows that whenever Blackfolk *tell* the truth about race/racism in Amerikkka, people classified as white see it as "anger"'s increasingly a failed strategy since most Blackfolk recognize the ploy for what it is --- white denial of *their* complicity in the destruction of Blackpeople...

  2. And the sad part is, some of the most negative reactions I receive are from Our People. In a future blog entry, I will address how we can be active players in our own oppression by inculcating, acting upon, and monitoring and censoring the actions/reactions of others who step outside of a "white world view" and the growing concept of "colorblind white supremacy" in Amerikkkan society.

    Thank you for your comment!

  3. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!