Lens Of The People: Strong Black Women

Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events in the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.

Black women have long been the subject of harsh double stereotypes, being both a historically mistreated minority and as women, who still to this day fight for their own equal treatment in our largely patriarchal society. It is the belief of many Black women that this misinterpretation of character, specifically the stereotypical “angry Black woman” trope, is largely in part due to the media’s influence on modern day America, not only shaping the stereotypes but portraying them in such a way that would leave the public to believe that all passionate Black women are angry. It is with this in mind that my topic question for the Houston public is as follows: Do you feel as though the media intentionally portrays strong Black women as angry and problematic? Here’s what the people have to say:

“I feel like as of recently, Black women are slowly starting to be shown through more than just one lens. However, the ‘angry Black woman’ narrative can still be perpetrated depending on who’s presenting the information. You can see the words and pictures they use to portray this unfair narrative. It will take Black men and women to rewrite this narrative.”-Jaya Gafford

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“Yes, it’s a stigma that hovers over us. Any time a Black woman speaks up, she’s automatically deemed hostile and the moment we want to be heard or give an opinion, it’s an issue. If we are not docile and problematic, then we’re angry Black women.” -Kareah Keith

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“I feel like the media portrays Black women as being these ‘super humans’, and to me, this is dangerous. This is why I believe people take issue with the saying ‘strong Black women’, because yes, we are strong but we are also feminine, we are sensitive, and we deserve a voice. What the media is portraying is influencing real world conflict. Like the beating of that 84-year-old woman on the NYC train or that woman in Dallas who was assaulted by that Bartender, to even the low infant mortality rates for Black women. This is really why they think Black women are so exclusively strong.”-Maiya Turner

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“As a colored woman living in America, I find it very disturbing that we let what’s seen on social media define our beauty, potential, significance and strength. I do believe social media has a say so towards our angry attitudes, which shouldn’t exclusively define who we are.” -Maya Williams

Photographer’s Thoughts

I absolutely believe that Black women are largely misrepresented in today’s media, which serves to create a false narrative towards them in which their passion for things such as sports -a traditionally masculine activity – is seen as aimless anger, indicative of the media’s portrayal of Black women. However, I do not believe the fault of this lies solely within racism and the lack of other races and other cultures to truly understand, for I believe that it is partly in fault with us as the Black community for instilling this trope within our own productions. For example, many of Tyler Perry’s works, particularly his Diary of a Mad Black Woman, serve to further perpetuate this stigma. It is not to say that those works are inherently hurtful in their overall messages, but rather that we should all be aware and mindful of our Black women in the future and to look past the “angry Black woman” narrative.