Who gave you permission to rearrange me? Certainly not me. Society’s flipped definition of a Black woman is detrimental to the Black woman.

Lillian Nero, Opinion Writer

Society loves the idea of the “strong Black woman.” The woman who rises up against everything against her to be the best person she can be.  

The woman who has to watch as young Black kids die at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them and die at the hands of those who look like them. 

The woman who stands up to abuse and doesn’t limit her goals for anyone. 

Society loves to call Black women strong.  

So strong that she can’t have mental health issues nor feel physical pain.  

So strong that she can do anything in this whole wide world.  

Society loves to call Black women strong and to uplift them in that manner, but they also love to call her angry.  

They call her angry when she voices her opinion about gun violence and abuse.  

They call her angry when she tells the world about her abuser and what happened.  

They call her angry when she points out the obvious bias in the healthcare, education, institutional and judicial system. 

They call her angry when she asks someone not to speak over her.  

Society which do you want? Do you want me to be strong without the anger, or angry and no possible way I can be strong? 

The whole “angry Black woman” stereotype means so much to me because, well, I am a Black woman. It’s not just about being called “angry”. 

It’s about being called “bitter” and “rude” and “mean” and being told “you look unapproachable.”  

 I reached out to five young Black women and their experiences with this stereotype and reading what was said hurt so much.  

All five of the young ladies said that they have been called “mean”, that they have been called “rude” and that they have been told that they “look unapproachable.” 

Part of me felt better knowing that other girls feel this way and that I’m not alone, but the other part of me was hurt because other girls feels this way and that I’m not alone.  

On average, the girls were about 11 years old when they were told these things. No ne should have to be told these kind of things, regardless of their age, but unfortunately, Black women have to deal with this for the rest of their life.  

“As a woman, people don’t wanna hear what you have to say, and as being a Black woman, it’s twice as hard.” Said Jada Lavalais, 11.  

According to CNN, Senator Kamala Harris was chosen by Presidential Democratic Nominee, Joe Biden, to be his running mate.  

Initially, I was happy, but then my nerves got the best of me.  

I think of all the unnecessary hate Black women get in the media and I feared for Kamala.  

I thought back to how the media painted Serena Williams as a “cry-baby” when she was standing up for herself. 

I thought about how the media slammed Beyoncé for “neglecting” her daughter’s hair when she just wanted it to be worn natural.  

I thought of the racially insensitive and intolerant country that Donald Trump allowed, and I feared for Senator Harris.  

In August when the Democratic race was heating up, Harris was a victim of malicious words from none other than Trump himself. 

In an article published by NBC News, Trump called her, “the angriest of the group,” in reference to the hearing of then-potential Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh.  

To me, it’s crazy because she’s worked her way up the ranks of the government and is yet subject to disrespect. It’s even crazier that some of the disrespect is coming from the President of the country, the person who should be the standard for what a respectful person is.  

This just goes to show that a Black woman could be in one of the highest ranks of an organization and would still have to deal with utter disrespect for nothing.  

As the Vice-Presidential debate came closer and closer to happening, I saw myself getting more and more anxious. 

With my nerves at an all-time high, I tuned in on Oct. 7 to see what was going to happen and boy was it a mess, my goodness.  

As I watched, I only had one thought the whole time: “Social media is going to kill her.” 

Not in the literal sense of course, but the way she stood up for herself and making sure that her voice was heard would make for some dumb, ignorant peons in the grand scheme of Harris’s life to paint the “angry Black woman” narrative all over her.  

Despite Mike Pence’s impromptu, yet predictable, act of interrupting Harris, she kept her cool the whole time, something us Black women have to do often.  

She didn’t overstep any boundaries, nor did she get disrespectful: she got what was hers.  

In a tweet from head anchor and editor of WKYC News in Cleveland, Ohio, Russ Mitchell said in a Tweet, “Harris has to thread a needle that every Black American understands,” about how Harris conducted herself during the debate. 

He continued with, “Harris has to use finesse, competence and style to not look like the ‘angry Black woman’ to some Americans.” 

In a CNN article by political activist and co-host of the “Al Sharpton Radio Show”, Earl Ofari Hutchinson said, “Strong, tough, decisive and yes, aggressive, are the exact qualities that voters and millions of Americans want and expect in their leaders.”
Hutchinson continued saying, “Harris could have smiled, spoke in a whisper and been the model of decorum in the debate, and Trump would still find a way to sneak the stereotype in about her.”  

Sure enough, the morning after the debate Trump literally called Harris a “monster” in an interview for Fox News.  

During the debate, Harris had to put on a façade. She had to tightrope across the line of being seen as assertive and heard, and being seen as angry and mean.  

This whole face she had to put on is something way too common in the daily life of a Black woman.  

We can’t get too loud because then we’re considered “ratchet”.  

We can’t speak in Ebonics because then we’re considered “ghetto”.  

We can’t do anything without being portrayed in a tainted light.  

Having to navigate this on a daily basis is tiring.  

Imagine feeling insecure in your own personality when you’re among those who don’t look like you.  

I should be able to be unapologetically me without having side eyes from my non-Black peers while they tell me to “tone it down.” 

I shouldn’t have to deal with my own teachers picking on me because they see society’s idea of a Black woman instead of me, an actual Black woman in front of them. 

Somy only pending question to society at this point can be simply put in the words of Erykah Badu: “Who gave you permission to rearrange me? Certainly not me.”