No. No she is not. Neither is Michelle Obama, neither am I, nor are any of the scores of other black women who possess a confident voice and power about their presence and to whom that sordid label is unjustly and far too often applied to. The ‘angry black woman’ is an awfully painful stereotype born of both racism and sexism, but that didn’t stop Alessandra Stanley from smacking Shonda Rhimes– creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal– with that tag anyway.
In case you missed it (ICYMI): Take a peek at Stanley’s article and then read Slate’s reaction, Vox’s reaction and the Huffington Post’s reaction (the latter two also highlight how a wounded Rhimes and the actors she employs reacted to this mislabeling).
What you’ll also discover in all three of the reaction articles is that Stanley was wrong on a number of other different levels, too. Mainly in that she credits Rhimes as being the creator of the new television drama How to Get Away With Murder when, in fact, Rhimes is only the Executive Producer of that show. This error is made particularly glaring by the fact that Stanley’s backhanded ‘compliment’ is rooted in the idea that Rhimes created the series’ main character, played by Viola Davis, based on her own personality thus, in fact, making Davis’ character out to be an angry black woman by default. And the show hasn’t even aired yet. The problem here, however, is that Rhimes did not create the series or the character…an angry white man did. *insert eye roll here*
Anyway, Alessandra Stanley appears to have earned a very spotty reputation for inaccurate reporting in the past and we’re not talking about a typo here and there, but just poor research and implementation, in general. Read what here own peers have to say about her in this 2009 article published in the Columbia Journalism Review and this 2012 article found on Gawker.com.
I won’t comment on how some of her other comments in this recent article on Rhimes’ success in the NYT struck me as a black woman. Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy about the ‘potent libidos’ reference and with good reason– what with black women also being touted as hyper-sexual from as far back as slavery when so many were raped and forcibly bred and then further victimized as they were blamed for possessing a certain sexual allure (especially by white women who found it easier to blame and punish their so-called ‘property’ than stop or even face their own husbands for desiring said ‘property’)– no, I won’t comment on that. I’ll try to read between the lines and believe that Stanley just thinks K-Dub is sexy as all get out. Doing so is a lot better for my blood pressure, after all.
Nor will I go into much detail on my feelings about her characterizing Rhimes’ characters as ‘haughty’, which sounds an awful lot like uppity– as in uppity negroes, but I can be sensitive about these topics, so I’ll keep my mouth shut over here.
***Deep Negro spiritual sigh here while I refocus***
I’m really happy that Stanley’s peers took her to task for this one as it’s high time that someone, other than us, addressed this ‘angry black woman’ stereotype. Yeah, some of us are pissed, for good reasons, and a lot of us are known to let the world know about those reasons, but we’re not alone in our strength, nor in our power or courage. Still, have you ever heard of an ‘angry white woman’ stereotype? Exactly.
Had no intentions on devoting 600+ words to this topic as I really just wanted to share links to the article and the reactions it spawned, as well as introduce you to the ICYMI tag where I’ll be sharing other interesting things I find around the web on any given day.