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Opinion | Angry while Black

When we talk about particular groups of people and communities, we tend to fall into stereotypical thinking - especially if we don’t understand a particular group

The angry black woman label is one I find extremely irksome. "The stereotype has parallels with the 'strong black woman' and the 'strong independent woman' (of any race): all limit our ability as women to emote, as if the only emotion we can express is anger and our only quality is strength." says Leah Sinclair.

The angry black woman is rude, inarticulate, loud, vulgar, irrational, aggressive - and somehow her fuelled anger also equates to her being radical - and this gives us permission to dismiss her statements and her concerns. Black people face an overwhelming reality of discrimination daily. Fact. Being both black and female ensues heightened adversity, as a black woman’s presence is naturally more prominent in the workplace, in society and in European visual and popular culture. Misogynoir refers to an intersection of anti-blackness, discrimination and sexism that black women experience.

"Do some of us have an attitude? Sure. But is that a problem or a valid excuse to dismiss black women’s opinions? No" - Leah Sinclair

Within countries that have been plagued by racism, black women find themselves under constant scrutiny for their emotions and opinions. Within western society there has been a long standing mistreatment of black people within society, especially where racial profiling is concerned.

I was very recently accosted while walking through a 'Nothing to Declare' boarder control in Berlin's Schönefeld Airport. Days have passed since this incident, yet the humiliation still feels raw. I'm aware of my hyper-visibility in Berlin. In this terminal I was the only black person and within moments I was dehumanized and subjected to a “routine inspection”. No reason given, no option to opt-out. I watched white passengers passed by without a care in the world. I was cornered into a bare room by two white German men, who called themselves "Officers of the Law" - even though neither one of them wore a uniform or presented any form of identification. I was accused of "possessing drugs" and my attitude gave them perfect grounds to presume I'm a drug-user.

I wasn’t travelling with drugs, perishable goods, animals or plants, neither was I entering the country with a large amount of cash - I had absolutely nothing to declare. The nature of this inspection was inextricably linked to a vivid prejudice and a racial bias of black people and criminal behaviour.

My emotions are heightened and I feel violated while I watch the white man riffle through my belongings recklessly, swabbing and tearing anything that meets his hands. I feel hopeless in the face of an overbearing and white supremacist presence. I feel disgusted, I am saddened, I am angry - and I have every right to be.

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I’m not the first person to be gravely mistreated and targeted by federal authorities within an airport or on the street.

This problem is rampant, but for reasons unknown these incidents are often nuanced in mainstream media and news. Racial profiling and mistreatment of ethnic minorities by Police is not uncommon in Germany, or the United Kingdom for that matter.

In Reni Eddo-Lodge's bestseller, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, she explores structural racism and racial profiling within the system. “Relentless policing of the black community in Britain means that black people are over-represented on the National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database”. Although the figures aren’t recent, a 2009 report prompted a comment from the commission, as concerns on the make-up of this database were raised. A “high proportion” of recorded DNA (estimated to be at least one in three black men) is creating an impression that a single race group represents and “alien wedge” of criminality. “Black people are also more likely to receive a harsher police response (being five times more likely to be charged rather than cautioned or warned) for possession of drugs".

We are not responsible for the stereotypes forced upon us, and the angry black woman stereotype is one that follows us everywhere we go - no matter what we do. And in no way, shape or form does this give anyone, the right to convince a black person that they are at fault simply for living their truth and expressing themselves.

Only a person comfortable with injustice would look at the conditions of black people across Europe and not be angered. Until this day black children going through state-school educational systems are still set up to fail as they attend underfunded and overcrowded schools. And when they finally do progress into adulthood they and subjected to relentless micro and macro aggressions in everyday interactions, the products and media they consume and being branded as the lesser by the prevailing party.

I am angry about the conditions of black people from Germany to the United Kingdom. My anger is triggered by continued discrimination and mistreatment. I am angry that Western society continues to normalize marginalization in 2018.

Photography: I'm Tired Project Words: Mag Ibiam

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