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Est. April 5, 2002
July 30, 2015 - Issue 617

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Plantation Relationships
Resisting the Stereotype of
The Angry, Black Woman


"If you dare assert your rights
as a black person, especially a
black woman, the conclusion is
that you are angry - angry about
your station in life, angry about
everything - and you will take
that anger out on anyone."

Would Sandra Bland be on her way to the new job that awaited her at Prairie View A&M University if only she had not challenged the police who made the traffic stop?  Twenty-eight year old Bland is dead after being arrested, her death ruled a suicide by Waller County, Texas officials. Many questions still swirl around her unnecessary death.
It seems to be that since the advent of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the most racist sectors of the country have resorted to an America they know best—one where black people are subservient to white people. The more we assert our black humanity, they more threatened they become and the more hostile is their response to our stance. Police-community relationships are where the opaque nature of a pseudo-democracy ends in black and brown communities.
Sandra Bland was allegedly stopped for not using her signal when she changed lanes. The fact that she joins a growing list of black folks who’ve lost their lives at the hands of police for initial minor violations only increases the volatility between police and the African American community. These stops are pretexts to some police needing to make it clear who’s the boss: I’m stopping you for nothing because I can. I’m arresting you because I can. I’m tasing you because I can. I’m shooting you in the back because I can.
Mike Brown was accosted by police for jaywalking. Eric Garner was choked to death for selling loose cigarettes. Walter Scott was stopped for a broken tail light and ended up with eight bullets in the back. And the list goes on.
Legal observers have pretty much agreed that Officer Brian Encinia had no right to order Bland out of her vehicle. He also made other demands that Bland rightfully questioned such as putting out her cigarette. Encinia threatened to “light her up” with his stun gun if she didn’t comply with his irrational orders.

Once the mainstream media got a hold of Bland’s involvement in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, her responses to the agitated cop got twisted into an age-old narrative about the angry, black woman. Sandra Bland should have done what she was told—without question—and maybe she would still be alive. You may recall that First Lady Michelle Obama was given the same jacket after it was discovered that her Princeton thesis was on the racial divide.
If you dare assert your rights as a black person, especially a black woman, the conclusion is that you are angry - angry about your station in life, angry about everything - and you will take that anger out on anyone.
As someone who has been called the angry, black woman, I embrace it with pride. My response to what the accuser thinks is a personal attack that will disable me is to say that my anger means that I’m alive and know that I’m being treated unjustly. If the daily heaps of American injustices don’t get a rise out of you, you’re either spiritually dead or psychologically diminished. I am neither.
Kadia Blagrove, an African American blogger, gave some satirical advice about how not be the angry, black woman: Them first, you last. Always be aware that you are black. Have no reaction…to anything. Shut up! Be passive. Always smile.
Blagrove’s post concludes with a simple affirmation and a cynical question. “Angry black women are people who are unapologetically secure, successful and confident despite the color of their skin. How rebellious! Wait, is the angry black woman really just a white man?”
The stereotype of the angry, black woman goes back to the minstrel days but has gotten more sophisticated in contemporary times. As in the case of internalized oppression, unfortunately too many black women and black men have accepted the label for different reasons. The goal is to get a black woman to be quiet, to submit and accept her fate. Usually that fate is rooted in some form of patriarchy and racism. Hang your head and shuffle along.
Sandra Bland was a human being with full citizenship rights. A white cop didn’t like that she upheld her humanity and refused to submit to his abuse of authority simply because he was white and male. This is why we are at a critical time in this country and why we must be serious and strategic in the fight against U.S. white supremacy. We must win this round; it can’t be a TKO, it must be a decisive victory.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement demands that not only black folks refuse to be passive about the racist policies, laws and attitudes that dehumanize and criminalize an entire race but that other nationalities match that anger as well. It validates your own humanity when you respect and protect someone else’s. No lives matter until #BlackLivesMatter. Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle.  Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.comContact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble