Last month, highly acclaimed television producer, Shonda Rhimes, was titled the “angry black woman” in an article from the New York Times. The article stated that Ms. Rhimes, creator, writer and producer of television favorites like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder, consistently displays the main characters in her top rated television shows as angry.
The article noted also that Ms. Rhimes’ main characters are African-American women. In response to the article, Ms. Rhimes blasted the writer for stereotyping her and her main characters. The comments of the writer from the New York Times indicates that despite your level of accomplishments in the workplace, negative stereotypical remarks remain alive and well.
After reading about this incident involving Ms. Rhimes, I flashed-back to my younger me. As a young worker, I experienced a direct supervisor telling me that “all sisters have attitudes”. My direct supervisor insisted on explaining to me the behavior of “black women as angry and sassy”. Even though this conversation happened over twenty years ago, the words of my supervisor haunts me because I am far from angry. To the contrary, I am always cheerful, kind and conservative in nature.
How to not be the Angry Black Woman
Nevertheless, as women of color, we cannot stop the negative racist thoughts and comments of others. But, we do not have to perpetuate the stereotype by following these simple steps:
- Control your body movement. Keep your hands by your side or behind your back while communicating with your colleagues and/or supervisors.
- Keep your head still. Do not roll your neck.
- Stick to the facts. There is no room for emotional behavior or over reacting to incidents and/or others.
- Watch the tone in your voice. Remain calm even when being stern.
- Always use proper grammar in written and oral communications.
- If you become angry at work, maintain your composure. Stay professional and don’t not come out of character for anyone and/or anything.
Dorothy C. Handfield is Founder/Owner of DCH Consulting Services, LLC. As a Workforce Consultant, she assists job seekers to transform into highly qualified candidates who get and keep their dream jobs. Follow: Twitter, Instagram @consultingdch and LinkedIn – Dorothy C. Handfield