Racist & Sexist Double Standard of the “Angry Black Woman” Trope
You might have read that a White woman journalist wrote a racist review of producer Shonda Rhime’s latest TV series. “How to Get Away with Murder” is a new show starring the fabulous Viola Davis who plays a lawyer and Professor. Apparently successful Black women are simply just “angry” (read: intelligent and assertive), whose other emotions are overshadowed by their unwillingness to be doormats.
The journalist criticises Rhimes for fashioning “angry Black women” in Rhime’s own image… failing to realise that the show’s creator is actually a White man! Moreover, as Rhimes noted on her Twitter, her show “Scandal,” centred on a smart Black woman is held up as the epitome of her supposed Black anger, but Rhime’s other show, Grey’s Anatomy, focused on a White woman, does not receive the same treatment.
Journalist Melissa Harris-Perry has written a brilliant satire turning the Angry Black Woman trope on its head. She focuses on Aaron Sorkin’s production, “The Newsroom,” asking why it’s okay for White men to express anger without being criticised as being menacing. This would be a nice piece to read alongside Michael Kimmel’s study on angry White men.
Edit: The journalist has defended her article saying she was using a “rhetorical device” by framing Rhimes using the Angry Black Woman trope and that she was praising her for casting Davis when she referred to her dark skin and looks as unconventional beauty. The NYT review editor has apologised but defended the piece saying three editors approved it and saw nothing wrong with the article. Not hard to work out why: the NYT reviews, one of the most respected in the world, in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, has only two people of colour on staff and not one Black writer/editor.