The Mad Black Woman

Just recently, Michelle Obama defended her character as books such as “The Obamas” depict her as an “angry black woman”. There are rumors that she is a forceful, powerful, behind the scenes player who constantly clashes with the President’s top advisors because she is frustrated and unhappy to be in the White House. The First Lady denies  these stereotypical images and while she admits she is a strong woman, she has no reason to be angry.

Click the link to watch the interview yourself! Michelle Obama’s Interview with CBS

Watching this interview on CBS News, I feel that this most definitely relates to African-American Feminism. Black women, especially those with a strong personality, are quickly described or referred to as the “mad black woman”. This title is a stereotypical image because in actuality not all black women are mad, crazy, bitter, jealous, or angry. Not to say that black women aren’t entitled to some anger as historically they have considered “unattractive” due to their dark skin and kinky hair.

Society has pinned black women against each other as differences are pointed out and become the focal point for conflict. In addition, black women are more likely to have a single parent home structure, be at risk for diseases and cancers such as HIV/AIDs, and receive less wages for the same job in comparison to their other counter parts. Black women are incarcerated at higher rates than their Whites or Hispanics counterparts.

Despite all these reasons to be angry, many black women are working against this stereotype and rising above it. They are increasing their influence in the political, educational, and business sector of the economy. They are reducing their dependency on receiving assistance from a man or the government. They are also proving to be exceptional role models for their daughters as they are providing them strength in their self-identity!

So will all the positive advancement African-American women are making today, who would be in a position to be the “angry” one?


About simonehoward

Philanthropy and Feminism.

Posted on January 11, 2012, in BP #1. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hello Simone,
    This is a very good place to start dialogue about African American Feminism. It is some fifty years since the 1960s and a strong, articulate, self-assured black woman (the First Lady of the United States, no less) is still being labled. Did the ‘movement’ ever happen? As you have pointed out, black women are increasing their influence in the political, educational, and business sector of the economy and proving to be exceptional role models for their daughters as they are providing them a legacy of strength in their self-identity; I have two daughters of my own. So. why is this still happening? Will we ever be rid of the sterotype – ‘the mad black woman’? Last time I checked, white women get mad, too.This only serves to prove that the work of African American Feminism is ongoing because ‘others’ don’t want to move forward or see black women move forward. However, there is no denying we have moved forward – there is a strong, Black woman in the White House. Don’t believe the hype.

    • I totally agree with you Simone. I have a 14 year old daughter myself, and I am constantly instilling in her the ability to be free from all of this stereotype. I tell her every day and I make her say it to herself, that she is strong, beautiful, smart, and blessed. I encourage her that she can be whatever she sets her mind on being. But it starts there…in the mind. I believe there has been a drastic change in society with more black women being educated, political and business oriented. However, we have so much more to do. We have to portray the positive image and not the image that all black women get government assistance, and that we have attitudes. It starts at home. I want to be a role model for my daughter. I work hard and push hard not so much for me, but for her. I want her to know that quitting is not an option. I stay in school, so she will know that knowledge IS POWER. So yes, we have moved forward and we just need to keep on moving.

  2. After viewing A Place of Rage video by filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, it is clear from the interviews of Angela Davis and Alice Walker that blacks (including the mad black woman) had legitimate reasons to be angry; racism, sexism, police brutality and racial discrimination all plagued the progress of blacks. It was (and is) the appropriate response to these injustices. However, generations since that time have proven that education, political activism, legal precedencies and the determination to be accepted into mainstream society that a majority of African American women express their concerns in productive and positive ways. But, again, does that mean we should never express anger? Or speak out against unfair practices and polices? That is what African American Feminism is all about, isn’t it? We should be outraged without losing our focus, self-respect and respect for others to seek resolves.

  3. Hey Simone,
    This interview with Michelle Obama was an excellent example of what African American women have to deal with regularly in this society. It is disturbing that, with all of the positive programs the First Lady has implemented, the most overused stereotype about AA women is what this individual chose to highlight. As you stated, AA women are entitled to some anger due to the ways we have been treated in history, and it seems as if reverse psychology is the go-to strategy when AA women begin to speak out. For some reason, strong, intelligent, and educated AA women are often prime targets; like we need to be broken down. I was impressed with the way that Michelle Obama openly addressed the issue and drew attention to the misconceptions that people still seem to have about AA women.

  4. It amazes me how an author can write something that is suppose to be non fiction about a person and it ends up being totally fictitious. I listened to the interview on First Lady Obama, and she stated that she hadn’t even talked to this author. He merely wrote about his impression of the first lady. First Lady Obama stated that “she hasn’t read the book”. She explained with such grace and poise that no one can write about “how she feels”. The author was a 3rd person. He was an outsider, trying to get a peek of who the first lady is. I guess he wrote this book trying to pull the anger out of this lovely black woman. However, his tactics did not sway the first lady. She not once came out of her character in response to these rumors. He took the feelings of historical black women, who had a right to be angry, because they were oppressed, beaten and drowning in low self worth, and he tried to brand our first lady with that stigma. Because she is a strong, black woman who expresses her feelings and ideas to her husband and president, she has to be angry? No, that makes her pro active and involved in what is going on in our country. She is powerful and confident and in my opinion, those two qualities oppose the image that the white American society have for the African American Women. My how the game has changed!

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