What does Sandy Bland, Michelle Obama, the neighborhood ‘black’ girl and Aunt Viv from Fresh Prince of Bel Air have in common? Surprise, they have all been labeled at some time in their life as an ‘Angry Black Woman.’
First, many condolences to Sandy Bland’s family for the recent loss of their family member and friend; may they be comforted in this time. Before Sandy’s passing earlier this month I had been working on a very sensitive yet pertinent topic. Specifically a book that I titled Angry ‘Black’ Woman Syndrome: Revisited vol 1.
Sandy’s appearance on the dash cam tape sparked a media storm of stereotypical imagery projecting her as an ‘angry black woman’ who incited her own arrest.
News commentators and internet personalities like Tommy Sotomayor openly shared their views of the incident leading up to her death.
Harry Houch a former NYPD detective was featured on a CNN discussion panel. Houch unapologetically points out that in his assertion Bland was “arrogant from the beginning”, “uncooperative”, “dismissive”, in no uncertain terms she had an “attitude” aka Angry ‘Black’ Woman Syndrome.
We can now add in addition to the laundry list of ABWS signs and symptoms, death for non compliance. The face of the ‘Black’ woman in society is seriously blighted. She is often classified as rude, dismissive, argumentative, and hard to get along with. This topic, as stated, is one that we can no longer afford to watch as mere spectators. Sandy’s case has pushed me to further pursue this social breakdown with vigor. As if what just happened in Texas was not enough, what I am about to share next solidifies the need for this conversation.
I mentioned in my title that I had 12 million reasons we should revisit the topic of Angry ‘Black’ Woman Syndrome. Well, just this week in the midst of all the ‘What Happened to Sandy Bland’ news headlines, I came across this video on social media. I will share the link below. It was posted on July 3rd, one week before Sandy Bland was taken into custody. The video brandished a young ‘black’ mother disgruntled and certifiably laden with symptoms of ABWS. The woman was present with a cohort who also displayed very aggressive signs of having ABWS.
Within the cell phone shot there are five small children visible. The video reveals a security guard who is named as Darien Long. He apparently kicked them out of a strip mall and for this act of ‘disrespect’ they are obviously irate. The video begins at the scene where the offenders are on the outside of the establishment. The women promptly began taunting, goading, and cursing the security guard. The children were also captured boisterously and audaciously hurling derogatory and emasculating references towards Mr. Long.
The vile exchange can be viewed in 3:03 seconds of footage. We can hear the guard in the video warning them to step back, or better yet in his exact words “you betta back it up.” The guard repeated these words over 20 times, a warning that went unheeded by both women and the children. Several ‘black’ men are seen walking by and observing the altercation but never intervening on anyone’s behalf.
The final straw was, when the irate woman entered into the guard’s personal space, he threatens to pull out a taser and in a last ditch attempt to calm her down, he literally “shocks” her off of him. The scene becomes hysteric as the children look on yelling ‘mama, mama.’ The belligerent woman, stunned by the electrical shock of the security guard’s taser gun, crashed onto the door and fell to the ground with a thud. She can be seen just a few seconds later with her legs flailing around as she recovers from the shock. The t-shirt and maxi skirt clad woman shrinks in attitude crushingly moving away from Mr. Long. Finally, it seems as though the shock reminded her to do what he had been suggesting the entire time, to “back it up.”
Stunned and dismayed, the video ends as the Angry ‘Black’ Woman walks backward away from the scene. The last words that the guard says are timely and imperative to this book and discussion. Dairen Long after encountering such an aggressive, combative ‘black’ woman asks her a definitive question,
“What’s the matter with you?”
Here are a few comments from this super viral video that had 12.5 million views, 68K likes, and 130K shares.
Ten days later from the posting of this video the nation and world was introduced to another ‘black’ woman who was admittedly irritated. Sandy Bland allowed her irritation to control her speech and henceforth her fate. In the dash cam video we see Sandy’s behavior similar to that of the strip mall counterpart. Both parties noticeably very irritated, and their irritation leading to ‘non-compliance’ at a simple request. Both similarly engaged in verbal struggles hurling insults at their intended target. In this case, like the mini mall video, Bland was ordered out of the car by a Texas Officer named Encinia; his disposition also noticeably angry, further fueled the confrontation. Unable to get Sandy to yield, Encinia’s anger bubbles over with frustration as he spewed the words “get out the car, I will light you up.” This was a reference to him using his taser gun to subdue her into compliance.
Officer Encinia’s indifference towards Sandy’s ‘irritation’ escalated in a matter of seconds and once out of the car Sandy is apprehended and man-handled. She can be heard on camera using the only defense she had at the time; her mouth. Sandy was caught on record hurling insults, goading, and defacing the officer for his aggressive handling of her. Sandy’s fate was fatal; this incident lead to her death.
Can we continue to sit back and not address a very present danger amongst the ‘black’ community? This damaging stereotypical self fulfilling behavior of nursing anger without tools and techniques to manage our personal feelings is becoming increasingly detrimental. Beyond commentary and condemnation what is there that we can do to get to the root of all of this anger?
The consensus is that the ‘black’ woman’s personality is stained by these images. Yes I know it sounds like a sweeping generalization, yet at the same time it is what it is. How do we address it from here?
I, for one, have endeavored to research and write this book Angry ‘Black’ Woman: Revisited vol 1, as a tool to shed light, insight, and dialogue, and search out solutions. Anger is rooted in a deeper emotion. Those who care enough to comment on what they see will hopefully care enough to help do something about it.
In addition to this there is a community forum where people who need to talk about these issues can come. The Take Time to Heal teleconference happens every Wednesday 8 pm EST. The number is 857 232 0156, dial in code 688286.
“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
― Mitch Albom,