[ View the story "Beyond the 'angry black woman'" on Storify] Beyond the 'angry black woman' Why do black female stereotypes continue to resurface in the US?
The Stream· Thu, Feb 28 2013 09:51:51
Racist stereotypes of African American women have existed since the slave trade era. Modern versions of these stereotypes continue to play out in mainstream media.
One of the most common stereotypes is that of the "mammy" or domestic help who cares for a white family. Actor Hattie McDaniel in "Gone with the Wind" is a typical example of the "mammy".
Hattie McDaniel in Gone With the WindAJstream
Aunt Jemima, another fictitious "mammy" character, was used to sell pancakes and other breakfast foods in the United States.
Aunt Jemima "I'se in town, Honey!"jimcrowmuseum
The mammy was a common trope for African American women in films.
The Help: Stereotypes of Black Women in Early Film and Televisiondominichaxton
This depiction was revisited in the 2011 movie "The Help".
'The Help' Trailer HDhollywoodstreams
Another common stereotype is the sexually promiscuous "Jezebel" character.
During the slavery era, black women's sexuality and bodies were
subject to jokes and mockery
. The stereotype continued after slavery ended, as shown in the postcard below, dating back to the 1940s:
honey i'se waitin fo you. cardAJstream
Today, the objectification and hyper-sexualisation of African-American women continues in rap and hip-hop music videos.
A screen shot from a music video by rapper Big Sean:
big sean screen shotAJstream
Some say the images and behaviour women typically exhibit in hip-hop videos are yet another negative influence. Rapper Lupe Fiasco made the song "B*tch Bad" to show how the usage of the word "b*tch" was misunderstood by women and men alike.
Warning: video contains explicit language.
Lupe Fiasco - Bitch Bad [Music Video]lupefiasco
Perhaps the most prevalent stereotype is the "angry black woman", also known as "
". This 2012 Pepsi commercial relies upon the "angry black woman" stereotype.
Pepsi Max Commercial Super Bowl 2012cathreneify
NeNe threatens Kim (Real Housewives of Atlanta)mrchristjensen
More recent depictions of black women exist as well. One criticism of how black women are often portrayed in advertising:
Social Justice, Race, Privilege & Racism, PowerPinterest
Yet many African American women are countering these stereotypes by using online and social media to promote more positive images.
A screen shot from the blog Black and Married with Kids:
The web-only sitcom "
Awkward Black Girl
" presents an African American female in a lead role that is socially awkward and funny - a character type not often portrayed in mainstream movies and television.
Awkward Black Girl - The Interview (S. 2, Ep. 5)iamother
The Stream community sends in their comments and questions about the cycle of stereotypes facing black women in the US.
QUESTION: Why are stereotypes of black women prevalent in US media?
@ajstream White screenwriters don't know any black women personally. And there's a culture of misogyny among mainstream black entertainers.BRA GOD™
@ajstream Black women haven't been considered as a standard of beauty but rather a struggling & awkwardceline Sue
QUESTION: When stereotypes become a perceived truth, how can they be countered? (Most cite responsibility of media.)
@AJStream Such "epidemic" can be countered by simply practicing critical thinking which is a science and an art.Muhammad
@AJStream Black Women themselves must endeavour to be responsible and promote their own identity with all other race in mind.The Speaking Pen
@AJStream Simply by the MSM not presenting "untruths'. Tuning forks for ignorance, which is popular. Entertainment becomes education/gov'tLloyd Cata
COMMENT: Stereotypes rooted in racism
@AJStream Overt &subtle racism aside,it's imprt 2recognize the internalization of oppression &how that creates invalidation w/in the cultureSafia
Sadly in our present generation racism still exist like a lit fire on a candle, so it's very hard to separate these kinds of stereotypes when some racist thinkers always instigate the negative stereotype as statistical fact. I've been in many foreign countries and I truly witnessed their racist stereotyping of blacks in general, men or women... They always use negative images of us untill we prove them ignorant....Xander Levi
Examples of stereotypes
In general, our society views and portrays women in general as hypersexualized beings there for the viewing pleasure of the man. When it comes to Black women, this is increased ten fold in television characters or shows. The Black woman is either really pretty (often times light skinned with European features) and overtly sexy, cast as the motherly figure, or Extra loud and obnoxious. That was one of the reasons I hated Django....ALL of the Black women except Kerry's character were overtly sexual and called their Master's some derivative of Daddy.facebook.com
Because it's mostly perpetuated against Black females silly. Outside of Grey's Anatomy...can you think of one Black female Doctor on television that is married and successful? Give me one show on mainstream television besides Grey's, Scandal (though many have issues with this show) that portrays African American Women in a good light...? Now list shows that portray European American Women in a good light. I'm sure you'll see the difference.Keziah Cicero