Not Funny: Black Women Stereotypes

A short while ago, I was doing a google search of “why black women are single” just to get ideas on what to discuss in this post. You’ll be surprised to know (or maybe you won’t) what autofilled:

  • why are black women so angry
  • why are black women single
  • why are black women so loud
  • why are black women so rude
  • why are black women so overweight

Seriously. I am not making this up. I could be wrong, but it was probably non-black women that searched using these criteria. I wonder if it was as a result of black women they personally know or if it’s just stereotypes they’ve seen of us in movies/television/media? Are these people who have never met a black woman before in their lives? Or are they surrounded by rude, loud, single, fat and angry black women? Inquiring minds want to know!

Needless to say, it disturbed me. Now, obviously, these search criterion are stereotypes and generalizations. While I am single, I certainly am not fat. I’m sure I’ve been rude before (and with good reason), but I don’t make it a habit to be. I am loud when I go to sports events or the like. But I am hardly all of these things at once. As a matter of fact, my family and friends would tell you that I could be quite introverted and shy.

I’m going to guess that the people who searched these criteria probably watch too much tv. The below video clip from the movie “Soul Plane” is perhaps an example of loud/rude/fat/single/angry black women:

Now don’t get me wrong: I love comedies. I love black films, and I love Monique. She is a beautiful, talented and plus-size actress that has broken some barriers against black women in Hollywood. But I find it incredibly regrettable that we are being portrayed this way (on top of the gratuitous use of the word “nigga”). I think whoever wrote, produced, directed, and acted in “Soul Plane” should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. But I won’t get into the problems I have with the film as a whole (and there are many!)… I’ll just discuss how many things are so very wrong with just this one scene:

  1. these women are obnoxious (loud singing, dancing, swearing, laughing and overall unprofessional behavior in a professional work environment)
  2. they are both plus-size
  3. the constant use of the word “nigga” period, and in front of people of other races
  4. their disrespect and demoralizing criticism of the young black man that they are screening (which I believe is another way that Hollywood drives an even bigger wedge between black men and women)

This is so sad and wrong on so many levels. What do you think people who have never met black women (or black people for that matter) think when they see these types of films? Thankfully films brought to the public by writers like Tyler Perry has helped to diminish this damaging portrayal of black women, but in most people’s mind and subconscious, the damage has already been done and their minds have been made up about what to expect from black women.

But how can this be reversed? In our everyday lives, we can disprove to the world that we are all not as the media and Hollywood portrays us. We will continue to be the hardworking, loving, passionate women we are by nature and slowly this will help to eradicate these rottenness stereotypes.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox about this for now. What are your thoughts? I’m sure you all have something to say!

14 thoughts on “Not Funny: Black Women Stereotypes

  1. like you mentioned, all black women(people) do NOT fall into these categories…but sadly, painting them all with the broad brush of generalization and stereotypes serves some peoples’ agendas…it’s a complex interwoven jumble of issues, but it boils down to money and power…yes, there are black stars on tv, in movies and music who get paid to portray these images…but what they get is a drop in a bucket compared to what the studios and production companies get…and who are the heads of most of these studios who produce these stereotypical albums, films and shows, hmm? many black (and other) actors have talked about trying to make shows/movies/music about inspirational black topics/people and finding little/no interest because they weren’t about gangbangin’, pimpin’ or drugs…if feeding peoples’ fear about black people makes more money than promoting tolerance and love, my hunch is the money will win.

    everybody, black and other, need to question what they see in the media because it is only a thread in the fabric of black life…

  2. Thank you for your insight on Black stereotypes in contemporary film. It’s really too bad some Black people insist upon breathing life into stereotypes in order to assert their identity. I am incredibly grateful for the diversity that is real among Black people. I just wish we would celebrate and embrace that diversity among us (which I believe would transcend, if not eliminate, persistent stereotypes). Too many people, including and especially some Black people, believe a rigid criteria exists to be considered authentically Black.

    Thank you also for your blog. : ) I read it often. I find some Asian American men attractive, but I’ve also read more than I want to about the presumed prejudice they have about dating Black women.

    Sincerely,
    Anisa

    • Anisa, thanks for your comment! Concerning the last part of your comment, I have heard about presumed prejudice as well. I started this blog in an effort to try and minimize just that. I want am/bw relationships to become less and less taboo, which will open a way for it to be more likely to happen. The more we know about each other, the more we’ll see each other as human beings and eventually as potential partners. I know quite a few of Asian men and alot of them are just so misunderstood. A big barrier, I believe, that keeps Asian men and black women apart is language and culture. There are many Asian men living in the States that speak fluent English and which are familiar with the American culture. However, there are not as many black women who are fluent in an Asian language and the culture. This is extremely important in getting involved with an Asian man.
      Ok, I’m going on and on, sorry! What I really want to say is: its very possible! 🙂

  3. It pains me to see how we are at times portrayed in the media hence perceived by those who may not have ever been exposed to black woman. I was stunned by your post mainly because I’ve never searched why black woman are single, nor would have I ever imagined that if I had that the content would be so scathing.

    I am not naive by any stretch of the imagination especially living in these United States and working in corporate america where one always needs to remind those less exposed that I am not what they see on TV. But really…..loud(as you stated at sporting events or when appropriate), overweight(Thanksgiving has me quite remorseful), rude(never) and angry(is this designated to black woman only because i have plenty of non-black single woman friends who’ve fit in this category at one time or another)…WOW I pride myself on being quite the contrary.

    The broad sweeping generalizations exists in most ethnicities, unfortunately ours are usually negatively portrayed. I refuse to let myself or those around me reinforce those images.

    Love the blog…
    Jan

  4. I think black and white people alike see these images, and take happy refuge in the “sistas don’t take no stuff” story. They coin terms like, “strong black women,” and “divas,” and take false comfort in the notion that black people are by no means victimized of hatred. No, we fight back, take what’s ours, and if whitey knows what’s good for him, everything is distributed fairly at the end of the day. All for the low, low price of a neck roll and a pointed finger. It’s a twisted fantasy made in white suburbia and embraced by a hurt people looking for Superheroes who don’t hurt quite as badly as they do.

    Black men who revere white women also conveniently cite these stereotypes to justify their preferences. And that’s not to let black women off the hook. When you searched for “why black women are single,” you may have come across the latest book, a reply song to “Why Black Men Love White Women,” which cites the 250 reasons black women need to turn to white men for love. Suffice it to say, the reasons are identical to those black men give for loving only white women: there’s just something wrong with black men/women, and you, being better and different, “deserve better.”

  5. Not to get political, but thank God we have an African-American first lady. Finally, the world is able to experience another “type” of black woman. A black woman who is elegant full of class and grace. She is a loving wife and mother, who always champions her family…..they come first in her world. How black woman are viewed needs to be in line with the Michelle Obama’s of the world being the rule not the exception. Quite frankly, there are far more “Michelle Obama’s” in the world. I’d like to include myself in that bunch, as well. The only way the negative stereotypes that plague black women will begin to dissipate will be/can only be one encounter at a time with those of opposite ethnicities. It’s high time, people worldwide stop using silly Hollywood movies for insight into the black culture.

  6. Bitofabelly,

    I definately feel you on this issue. As a African-American woman, I just get tired of the people letting stereotypes think for them.It kind of reminds me of false advertising. The advertisers want you to see all of the good parts of their product,but later discover that you’ve been duped.

    Several years ago, I read an article about a young Japanese woman who decided to attend Spelman College. The one thing that I loved about her was that she wanted to learn the real Black America. Although she was never stereotypical about her journey, she just thought that there were more to us than what is often portrayed on us on TV and as she learned, her college helped to learn the good about us. Though she was educated from a HBCU, common sense was key into getting a realistic picture and true education about us.

    Abialamode brought up the Obama.You just don’t know how happy to see Barack and Michelle in the Whitehouse. It wasn’t that I was so focused in putting him in the office because of his race( Actually, my first choice was Hillary Clinton), but he is not the supposed stereotypical “norm” and he represents oodles of Black who are wrongly being accused of being bad terrible people.

    As my pen name implies, I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta, along with several other Black hot spots, are known for their elite Black communities. Though I grew up in a mostly White one, I loved going to my grandparents side of town. The Black people I were exposed to let me see all the positivity of it. The Black people I knew will never be exposed. They stayed with their families( including my grandparents who were married for over 50 years until my grandpops death), they wanted the best for their kids( again my college educated pops wanted me to Clark-Atlanta),many of them were, and still is with the Black elite, Doctors ,lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs and in a couple of cases,they were in to politics. There are sprawling Black communities here that are worth from half a million to a million dollars.(There are some Asians and other non Blacks who lives in them) When it came to history, I wasn’t taught about stereotypes, I was taught the truth about Black people. I was taught about the freedomfighters, Black inventors, aviators etc. There are many Black people who are in this mode but we’ll never get to hear about it because media will only let people see what they want to see.What is stereotyped about us, I’ve seen from other non-Blacks.

    • ATLsis, thank you for your comments and welcome! I was just speaking with someone the other day on what you brought out in your comment. It seems that something happened on the way to heaven with Black people in the States. Before and during the Civil Rights movement, education and class seemed to be esteemed by African-Americans. Now, its gang-banging and miseducation that prevails. Who ever thought it would be cool to talk like a slave?? To encourage children to forsake their studies and fantasize about being womanizing rappers/video-ho wannabees when they grow up? I think the majority of hip-hop is partly to blame for that, but that’s a completely different discussion…

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