Communication And The Angry Black Woman Stereotype

January 23rd, 2012 | Categories: Race

The Angry Black Woman Stereotype is not new, despite its recent emergence in the headlines because of it has been applied to Michelle Obama. Communication about this stereotype abounds in the media. For example, it can be seen in Google Images, a recent book, newspaper articles, blogs, t-shirts, and television shows.

Google Images: Michelle Obama is now the face of the angry black woman. How do I know? Because I searched “angry black woman” on Google Images (scroll down).

A Recent Book: The angry black woman image of Obama was introduced by the media with the publication of the new book, The Obamas, by Jodi Kantor, a New York Times reporter. The content of the book depicts Obama consistent with this stereotype. Note, however, that the cover image does not.

Newspaper Articles: The media has ran with the story about the angry black woman stereotype and has been perpetuating it in reports about Obama’s reaction to The Obamas. Before you even read the articles, the headlines perpetuate the stereotype.

USA Today announced: First Lady: Wrong To Paint Her As ‘Angry Black Woman’.

ABC announced: Michelle Obama Dismisses ‘Angry Black Woman’ Image

US Weekly announced: Michelle Obama Slams ‘Angry Black Woman’ Stereotype

Reporting about the stereotype becomes an act of perpetuating that stereotype, even if in the headlines alone. This is most obvious in the last headline and its use of the word “slams.” If we accept that the media produces a cumulative message for its audience, then US Weekly solely be blamed. Combined, the headlines communicate that Obama fits the angry black woman stereotype, even as they report about her refutation of it. The headlines are suggestive. Obama comes across in as judgmental, dismissive, and, well, angry because of their word choices: “wrong,” ” dismisses,” and “slams.”

In contrast, The New York Times demonstrates impartiality by titling their article simply Michelle Obama. Admirable. . . until. . . you remember that it was their reporter who is the author of the original source of this recent stereotypical depiction of Obama.

Blogs: Blogs discuss the angry black woman stereotype as if to own it as much as to decry it. Check out some examples at the website that is actually titled TheAngryBlackWoman. Other blogs own the stereotype even more, if that’s possible. for example, if you are wondering whether someone you know fits the description, check out this article titled, Five Signs Of An Angry Black Woman. For those of you who are wondering whether you, like Obama supposedly does, fit the stereotype, here is an article for you titled,Are You Suffering From Angry Black Woman Syndrome?

No need to delve into the other examples of t-shirts and television too much. Sometimes, as suggested by the Google Image depictions of “angry black woman,” a picture says enough.

T-Shirts:
Communicate your membership in the angry black woman culture by wearing it.

Television:
South Park is among many shows who have depicted the Angry Black woman as a character.

The Angry Black woman stereotype may be discussed a lot this January because of how it was applied to Michelle Obama, but people communicate the stereotype in the media in lots of different places and have for a long time. As some of the examples above demonstrate, this stereotype is communicated even by those who are trying to advocate for black women or trying to refute the stereotype. Although it’s in the news this month, communicating the angry black woman stereotype in the media is not new.

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  1. Sister Mary Kay
    January 24th, 2012 at 14:11

    “The media has ran with the story ”

    The media run
    The media ran
    The media has run

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/run#Verb

    Hope you won’t be angry.

  2. January 24th, 2012 at 14:26

    Thank you for the correction. “A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” -Alexander Pope

  3. Brian Saffer
    February 22nd, 2012 at 16:56

    These T-Shirts are merely promoting stereotypes; something that society needs less of. People should be more wary of those who may be sensitive these types of things. In my opinion, they should not be allowed.

  4. Anastacia Kurylo
    February 26th, 2012 at 15:16

    For more insights on the angry black woman stereotype check out the comment from DL to my 11/30/11 blog titled, “Consequences Of Stereotyping In A Crazy World” available at http://thecommunicatedstereotype.com/consequences-of-stereotyping-in-a-crazy-world/.

  5. Meghan
    February 27th, 2012 at 17:36

    It is interesting to automatically see the media defining Michelle Obama as an “angry black woman.” She is strong and supportive of her husband, but she has her own charity work and independent life as well. Just because she is a strong person, she is characterized as “angry” because she is both black and a woman. If she was subtle, dependent, and timid next to her husband, I’m sure the critics of Mrs. Obama would be content.

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