Not Angry, Just Fed Up: Laverne Cox On the Angry Black Woman Stereotype

There's a huge problem with the myth that black women are somehow more quick to anger than other people. Being labeled an "Angry Black Woman" is a catch-22: the more you fight the label, the more people want to stamp you with a big ABW crimson mark. Even though black women should have the right to get angry from time to time—like every other human being on earth—many attempt to fight the unfairstereotype (and appease those around them, especially men) by suppressing their emotions. 

For some black actresses, an outright refusual to be pigeonholed into an ABW role is the clearest form of protest. Take Laverne Cox. The actress plays Sophia, a sweetheart of a transgender hairdressing inmate on Orange Is The New Black. Throughout her career, Cox has refused to allow TV creators to corral her into the role of the ABW. On Orange she expertly mines the depths of Sophia's complex character, exploring her tumultuous relationship with her son and her everyday struggles as the only trans woman in the prison.

Laverne told BuzzFeed earlier this week:

“I remember being really conscious of not wanting to fight with another black woman on camera. I did an interview and the producers were like, “Well, this [other black woman on the show] said this about you. What do you have to say about that?” And I said I’m not fighting with another black woman on TV. Even during my elimination episode, when it came down to myself and another black woman, my mother—after watching—said, “Why didn’t you defend yourself?” And I just didn’t want to give television the satisfaction of seeing two black women going at it. We see that so much.”


TV isn't the only place the ABW stereotype is perpetuated, though we definitely see a sh*t ton of it on reality shows. Viral vids, like the Sharkeisha fight clip circulating the web a few months ago are also damaging, begging the question: why are people so tickled by images of this kind of female violence? 

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