If you have 2 eyes and a social media account, I’m sure you’ve seen this meme:
The caption of the meme reads; “#Mysogynoir: When McKayla Maroney’s disappointment was adorable but Gabby Douglas’ disappointment is attitude”. To sum up my reaction to the meme, let’s just say that I was PISSED. I haven’t kept up with the olympics this year, but I still have not been able to escape the criticisms that Ms. Gabby Douglas has received this year.
I’m not just bothered by the fact that people seem to have forgotten how amazing she was at her first Olympic showing in 2012. Or about the fact that people don’t seem to be able to like both Gabby and Simone Biles because we can’t POSSIBLY celebrate two women from the same sport at the same time. For the sake of this post today, I’m bothered by the fact that this whole “black girl with an attitude” crock is still a thing!! I’ve seen more article about Gabby’s “attitude” than I have about what she’s accomplished at the Olympics. But they’re just gonna let Ryan Lochte and his rowdy swimming crew get a pass because their “just kids” whose accomplishments outweigh their behaviors.
As a black woman, I’ve had to deal with this foolish idea too many times. If I’m assertive and direct, I HAVE AN ATTITUDE. If I’m not walking around with a huge smile to show ALL of my teeth, I HAVE AN ATTITUDE. If I disagree with something, I HAVE AN ATTITUDE. If I BREATHE, I HAVE AN ATTITUDE. Like Gabby, if I’m disapppointed in myself because I haven’t performed to my own high standard, I HAVE AN ATTITUDE.
I’m not sure why in 2016, black women are not allowed to have facial expressions and emotions outside of extreme glee. It’s bad enough that women are generally considered “bitchy” just for speaking like our male counterparts–with authority. Black women have to bear that weight AND the weight of the negative perceptions attached to our emotional range. It’s disappointing. WE ARE WOMEN!!! WE ARE HUMAN!!!
Guess what!! I know this may come as a shock to some, but us black women are capable of expressing every emotion you could possibly imagine. (Woooow!! Right?) On top of those emotions, we have one extra layer–the one where we always feel the need to be conscious of our demeanor and our words for fear that we’ll be mistakenly labeled as that ANGRY BLACK WOMAN.
Welp. Today, I’ll be that ANGRY BLACK WOMAN. I’ll be that intelligent, eccentric, and emotionally complex angry black woman with my angry fro. AND, I’m going to let you know that we black women are finished and we are done with the negative connotations that come with the word “attitude”. There’s nothing wrong with being feisty, sassy, and having some attitude…unless you’re a black woman. I mean, that’s the message I keep getting–unless I’m missing something. Why can’t we be unimpressed like McKayla? Give us more credit and reducing our wealth of emotions to one thing because it’s more comfortable for you. We are not simplistic creatures, so you should learn to digest us as we are.
I could really go on and on about this subject, but I’ll finish with this:
This message isn’t just some angry message directed towards white people–like I said, I’m more complex than that–it’s meant for ANY and EVERY person who thinks it’s cool to reduce us black women this way. Yeah, I’m talking to you black men and women too–you can do much better than that.