Dear America, Black People Have A Right To Be Angry

If something scares mainstream America more than the anger of People of Color, I can’t name it. Every Black public figure looking to garner acceptance by the White majority must steer away from criticizing too harshly the blatant inequality of the US; lest they be painted an enemy of the State.

And as we navigate our daily lives, African Americans avoid voicing our discontent in mixed company for fear of being labeled a stereotype. As a Black woman, when I feel emotions begin to swirl, I recognize that both my blackness and my womanhood will conspire to make me the “crazy black bitch.”  Concealing our anger, however, does nothing to heal wounds, fix policies, or facilitate discussions.

Read: Why I am OK with Being an Angry Black Woman

The righteous discontent of Black America provides a catalyst for change. The fact is: we can never be post-racial (if that’s really the aim) until  America relinquishes its irrational terror of black rage. That anger is productive and justified. The problem is theirs not ours.

When Michelle Obama succinctly noted that America is “downright mean” in a 2008 interview with the New Yorker, I thought: “Well…yes.” Her comments made perfect sense. America has, in fact, been particularly cruel to those who had the misfortune of being born female, homosexual, non-white and/or poor.

Mrs. Obama’s comments drew ire from conservatives who were deeply offended that FLOTUS dare reflect upon the history of the country that made her a millionaire. Michelle apparent forgot that blind gratitude is what successful African American are expected to convey at all times.

Anything other than cool, detached rhetoric -- even in the face of degradation and oppression -- draws cries of racebaiting from those who do not wish to have their unearned privilege challenged. The expectation that Blacks should always provide the voice of reason is emotionally and intellectually dishonest. If you are Black in America, you should be mad. I find myself enraged often thinking about the unanswered rape, murder and humiliation of my foremothers. For every name we know: Recy Taylor, Latasha Harlins, Rekia Boyd there are countless others we will never hear. That makes me angry.

Read: Haunted by Jim Crow: The Grudges of An Angry 83-Year-Old

Yes, we must forgive, but before that, raise hell. Racist logic goes that if you are Black in America you have no right to be angry about the discrimination that under girds this country’s every institution. You see, white Americans are the only group afforded the luxury of outrage. When angry white men march in the streets to protest taxes, affirmative action, or same sex marriage, they are patriots. When Black activists march to protest inequality in the justice system, education, housing or healthcare, we are whiners.

Our justified anger stems from the fact that white Americans rarely listen to our pleas and demands for justice with the intent to act. Anger is not shameful when it prompts action. It is anger not sadness or despair that has propelled much of the progressive change in the United States.

Personally, I’ve had to learn tune out the detractors who wish to discredit my concerns because of my “hostile” tone. If you are unwilling to listen to me when I am angry, you probably weren’t interested in what I have to say. No apologies. Americans will just have to get used to hearing less than conciliatory counternarratives.

America, we’re mad as hell, and you will hear it.

Kimberly Foster is the Founder and Editor of For Harriet. Email or Tweet her

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