Nine times out of ten
When I ask you to describe me
The words loud, sassy, and angry make an appearance
The angry black woman trope is a longstanding widely spread pernicious stereotype of black women that has found its way into mainstream popular culture, the media, working environments, schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions as well as rearing its ugly head in everyday interactions and the personal lives of black women.
More often that not, black women are portrayed as aggressive, angry, hysterical, unreasonable, emasculating, strong, tough, uncontrollable as well as ratchet, ghetto, and unfeminine. White womanhood is often the default for what it means to be a woman, with anything deviating from that norm being considered the ‘other’. White womanhood is protected at all costs. Black womanhood is criticised, subjected to ridicule, viewed suspiciously and is often up for debate. The way black women express their anger, pain and vulnerability is an ongoing focus, particularly in our current times of racial tension and socio-political unrest. The angry black woman trope, as with the mammy archetype and the Jezebel, exist to place black women firmly in boxes, stripping them of nuance, humanity, and individuality.
And the curves and the contours
And the ripples of my body
Poked and prodded in the same breath
You use to berate me
In my eyes you see red
If you see me at all
And to you I’m made of straw
Packed and thrown into bundles
And stuffed into others
Burnt at the stake on any given day
I am a caricature
Despite the angry black woman trope being popularised in the 1900s, there have been very few explorations of the subject and even fewer led by black women themselves. In October 2016, writer, blogger, poet and freelance journalist, Siana Bangura will be debuting her first exhibition: ‘I, The Angry Black Woman’ & Other Stories.
Curated by Siana and inspired by her poem, ‘I, The Angry Black Woman’, this exhibition will showcase the work of three Black British female artists: Juliana Kasumu, Adama Jalloh, and Mikela Henry-Lowe. Through their photography and paintings the artists will explore black female anger, vulnerability, and most importantly, our ‘Other’ stories. Stories of being ‘The Other’, stories that are contrary to negative mainstream narratives about our bodies, our sexuality, our cultures, how we parent, our hair, how we express joy, and so much more. The pieces will be threaded together by the poetry of Siana Bangura, from her debut collection ‘Elephant’.
She is hysterical.
Angry is her name
Rage is her birthplace
Fury in her DNA
Irate is her melanin
Other women can settle and fit in
But not her.
She is darkness.
She is dark within.
‘I, The Angry Black Woman’ & Other Stories exhibition will take place at Buster Mantis, Deptford from Thursday 20th October to Sunday 23rd October.
Poster design by Gabrielle Smith
Wednesday 19th October: Private view (7.30 pm to 11.30 pm)
Thursday 20th October: Public opening (5.00 pm to 11. 30 pm)
Friday 21st October: Public opening (5.00 pm til late)
Saturday 22nd October: Public opening (5.00 pm til late)
Sunday 23rd October: Public opening (4.30 pm to 11.30 pm)
‘In Conversation with the Artists’: 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm
On the last day of the exhibition, Siana Bangura will be in conversation with Juliana Kasumu, Adama Jalloh, and Mikela Henry-Lowe discussing their work, inspiration, and the key themes of the exhibition. There will be opportunities for audience Q&A. There will also be a chance to purchase signed copies of ‘Elephant’, by Siana Bangura as well a prints by the artists.