Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Right to: Feel Angry


The angry black woman.

That word and that sentence is a headache and a half to many black women. To even be indignant and express it conjures up images of the neck-rolling, finger-waving Sapphire stereotype and the fear of not being taken seriously. Coupled with that fear, valid in some instances, is a feeling of being stifled. A feeling of being told you have nothing to be angry about (compared to how society treats black men). Of how your anger makes you unattractive and so you should hide it. And feeling that even when that anger is justified, the worst thing you can do is "look" angry.

Of all the emotions a human being could have, it seems that being able to express anger is the one that some black women cannot. And so it remains inside of them; a festering ticking time-bomb. Not a pretty picture, huh?

On the polar opposite end of the scale would be the very overtly hostile and angry black woman. Her dissatisfaction is an aura that sends people scrambling in a hurry. She yells, screams, cusses, threatens, even fights. But still her anger remains. If one dares to ask why this woman is so angry, there's no telling what answer you'd get. But it's very unlikely that the answer would come from the root of her troubles: The reason she's actually so upset and refusing to let go of such negative feelings.

One may tell you that, "Cause I feel like it! Now mind yo damn business!" What she won't tell you is that ever since she was very young, she had to raise and watch out for her younger siblings. Her father was never around and her mother is a drug-addict. Her youngest sister, seventeen and pregnant, turned up in tears on her doorstep a couple of years ago and has been living with her ever since. Now well into her thirties, she feels like she's never had a life, never had any freedom and had to always look out for other people. She's never in her life had time for herself. She's angry with her parents, even angry at her siblings for being a burden on her. And she's also angry with herself for feeling the way she does. She loves her family, but just wished her life had been different.

Another may tell you, "I'm just mad at people. I hate people. You try and be nice and they just walk all over you. So I don't. You can't trust anyone." She won't tell you that at age seven she was raped by an uncle. She told her mother what happened and was blamed for it, since she "wasn't where she was supposed to be". She had been sexually violated multiple times while growing up by relatives and older boys in her neighborhood. It was a common occurrence that was known, but not talked about. "Pedophiles are white people's problem and child molesters are usually white anyway " was all she heard, even as her innocence slipped away. She learned early on that she couldn't trust anyone, man or woman, to protect her. She had to look out for herself and she'd done well. But still the anger, resentment and broken-heartedness she felt over her family's betrayal remained.

Dealing with Anger

You may know women like the ones mentioned above. Whether they're afraid to show anger or they're always angry. Both categories of women have anger problems. Anger, whether hidden or overt, eats away at you. The key to anger isn't merely in being able to express it: It's dealing with the cause of your anger and allowing it to be resolved.
It's actually really easy to be angry. I'm sure if you sat right now and thought about it, you could think of a number of things that absolutely grind your gears and make you mental.

But being angry and resolving anger are two different things. When you work to resolve your anger, you approach the reason, the true reason you feel the way you do. You allow yourself to feel the full weight of the emotions. Regardless of whether you rage or weep, you allow yourself to feel the honest truth within yourself about that situation. What follows is the "moving on" aspect: You ask honest questions of yourself and form a plan of action.
You might choose to directly confront someone or write them a symbolic letter (if what makes you angry isn't a person but an event or idea, writing a letter to it works just as well I find). You may get therapy or join a support group. You might take up yoga, learn a martial art, or beat a stuffed animal with a plastic bat. The important thing is finding a way to let go and move on for your own sake.

Why Black Women Have The Right To Be Mad As Heck?

Because ladies, anger is a human emotion and the last time I checked, you are human. EVERYONE gets angry. And various persons are prone to carrying around feelings of resentment and hostility. Some people feel like only black women are angry or are not allowed to be angry. But if you really look around, you'll notice that the "A" word rears its hot-tempered head at all kinds of places having nothing to do with black women.

You are allowed to feel however you want about something and not let others stifle you. And don't stifle yourself: If you feel upset about something, be upset. Allow yourself that emotion.

But the key to anger isn't in its existence or its expression: It's in how you deal with that feeling and ultimately choose to resolve it. Anger can be a very paralyzing emotion. It can freeze every facet of your being and your connection to the world. It's like fear and doubt, other negative and limiting emotions. These feelings can stop you from living your life to the fullest. And NOTHING should be allowed to do that.

So black women, be angry. If you have something that bothers you, don't be shy about expressing it. But understand that anger is something you move *forward* from. You are entitled to feel it, but I wouldn't recommend holding onto it.

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