Home > Race > Angry Black Women: Myth or Reality? It’s Reality

Angry Black Women: Myth or Reality? It’s Reality

Two commercials featuring African American couples have caused a stir because apparently they enforce a stereotype by portraying black women as angry. The commercial receiving the most flack appeared during Super Bowl XLV. It is a Pepsi Max ad called, “Love Hurts,” which was created by 28-year-old filmmaker Brad Bosely, who was one of six fans to win the “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest. According to Bosely, who grew up in Leawood, Kansas, when he conceived and pitched the concept for the ad he did not have any black actors in mind.

In “Love Hurts,” an unsympathetic wife is diligently trying to keep her slender husband healthy by preventing him from indulging in bad eating habits, which includes slapping a bar of soap in his mouth as he hides in the tub trying to eat a burger. At the end of the commercial they are sitting on a park bench enjoying a can of Pepsi Max when the husband is caught smiling goofily at a white female jogger. The wife becomes furious and hurls her Pepsi Max can at his head, but misses and instead knocks the white woman out cold. The two flee from the scene hand in hand.

In the State Farm commercial, “Magic Jingle Anniversary,” a black woman berates a black man for stupidly backing his car into another car. When her boyfriend summons his claims adjuster to help the situation, she requests a new boyfriend. He turns into a chocolate beefcake. The boyfriend then asks for a new girlfriend and she turns into a sexy OMG video chick. The girlfriend’s reaction is “oh, that’s what you like.”

Some bloggers and even Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee were upset with The Pepsi Max commercial, criticizing it for showing a darker skinned African American woman who is bigger than a size six and wearing a bad weave (or a wig). The State Farm commercial was criticized for showing lighter skinned African American women who are smaller than a size six with nice weaves and bad attitudes. Oh, and of course the Pepsi commercial committed the cardinal sin of having a white woman being perceived as attractive by a black man.

The reason I find the “Love Hurts” commercial disturbing is because it mocks and marginalizes domestic violence. Even the title of the ad, “Love Hurts” is fitting as it plays out a reversal of the way men who control women act. What critics see as black emasculation is physical and emotional abuse. There is an unspoken truth in this country that men get abused by women. Men represent more than 38 percent (or roughly 835,000 a year) of injured victims in a relationship at the hands of their intimate partner. Women abusing men is nothing to snicker about.

Were the roles reversed and it were a man kicking his wife and shoving her face down on the table, black or white, people would have been upset. The wife throws at Pepsi Max can at his head and instead hits the white woman he is eying. The other woman could have been Jamaican, Chinese, Puerto Rican or Indian. Who cares? The wife tried to physically harm her husband. This is uncalled for behavior that the majority of the commercial’s critics have shrugged off. The real issue at heart is that this commercial is more than just some angry black woman stereotype.

Yes, people are in an uproar about actresses and fictionalized black female characters in the Pepsi and State Farm commercials. Yet, so-called reality television is filled with angry African American women who constantly yell at each other and try to yank out fellow cast members’ weaves as with shows like Basketball Wives and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. RHOA is one of Bravo’s highest rated series in its RH franchise. Even people who aren’t fans of RHOA know about the notorious “Diva” of realty TV, NeNe Leakes. She has become the poster child for loud, angry plus-size, dark skinned, neck rolling, eye popping, tongue lashing, and big lip smacking black women. She is always on the attack, sticking her finger in the faces of her husband (soon to be ex), her son, her former gay best friend, and especially RHOA cast member, her arch-rival, and onetime BFF Kim Zolciak, a blond white woman with big hair and big boobs.

For some reason, reverends and congresswomen aren’t bothered by the “ghetto hot madness” behavior of Leakes. On the contrary, I have heard people defend her behavior and RHOA by stating that all The Real Housewives…are back-stabbing, money-grubbing, self-indulging, and bullying. Still, most of the other non African-American housewives from the franchise’s other series have “A-List” associates, businesses, and assets beyond that of their mates.  Black women apparently don’t have a problem with the perpetuated stereotypes on RHOA of unwed or divorced baby mamas boohooing over their baby daddies not being around.

It appears Leakes is taking her antics with her to Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, which airs March 6. According to show previews she will rant and rave at Star Jones, another African American woman. Jones, a lawyer and former New York prosecutor, is best remembered as a co-host on ABC’s The View. Appearing On Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Trump admitted that Leakes had huge “problems” and “fistfights” with Jones. Even Trump said he was surprised the behavior went beyond the usual reality show feuds and that he’s never seen anything like it on television. According to Trump, “NeNe and Star make Omorosa look nice.”

On The Wendy Williams Show, Leakes called Jones “special” and slammed her by saying she “wouldn’t spit on Star if she was on fire.” After keeping silent, Jones told Life & Style magazine that she “did Celebrity Apprentice to raise money and awareness for a charity (the American Heart Association) that has been instrumental in my life, not to see it reduced to a cliché where black women attack one another for publicity’s sake.”

Good for Jones. But you can bet that black folk, especially women, who have never watched The Apprentice or Celebrity Apprentice before will now tune in to cackle at Leakes and Jones catfight. Celebrity Apprentice is likely to enjoy its highest ratings ever (making Trump very happy). Black women can appear as loud, bitchy, and nasty as they want to be on scripted reality TV just not in TV commercials it seems.

The biggest problem I have with Leakes is the same issue I have with the Pepsi “Love Hurts” ad. She isn’t just a stereotype or a parody of an angry black woman. The Pepsi wife is physically abusive towards her husband and Atlanta’s real housewife is verbally abusive towards anyone she dislikes. Leakes considers herself, as do others, to be a strong black woman who speaks her mind and is not to be toyed with.

She was admittedly in an abusive relationship in the past. In season one of RHOA, she held a fundraiser event for Twister Hearts, a charity that purportedly brings awareness to the plight of domestic violence victims of all races  But Leakes constant verbal abuse illustrates that she has gone from being victim to victimizer; from prey to predator. She justifies her behavior, including appearing as if she is going to physically assault another cast member—Kim Zolciak of course—because other people provoke her. “She pushed my buttons.” Isn’t that the classic line and psychology batterers use for striking their spouses?            ~Carolyn M. Brown

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