Black Girl Stereotypes

There are many ugly things that exist in the world. Stereotypes, or generalized perceptions about others, are still something which we have to overcome as a people. In this post, we’re going to be focusing on 4 specific black girl stereotypes that should have been discarded prior to their inception.

The “Angry Black Girl/Woman” Stereotype

This is one of the most common black girl stereotypes. Far too often, black girls and black women are accused of being angry. There are many reasons why this stereotypical accusation is so problematic. First and foremost, anger is not always a bad thing. Second of all, there are many cases where black women have the right to be angry.

The “Angry Black Girl/Woman” stereotype is also problematic because it’s often used to invalidate the struggles, positions, and statements of black girls and black women. When a black woman is expressing herself, explaining her position, or trying to make a valid point, it’s dehumanizing to reduce her to being just another “angry black woman.” Instead of perpetuating this vicious black girl stereotype, a more productive choice is to actually listen to and empower the voices of black women and black girls.

The “Jezebel” Stereotype

Similarly to the “Angry Black Girl/Woman” stereotype, “Jezebel” is one of many damaging black girl stereotypes. The “Jezebel” stereotype predates back to the days of slavery where black girls and women were regarded as loosely promiscuous. This idea was peddled in order to excuse and justify the rampant sexual abuse and mistreatment which black female slaves were regularly subjected to at the hands of white men and others.

One of the best ways to do away with the vexing “Jezebel” stereotype is to understand that, like everyone else, black women have sexual urges and desires. However, this does not serve as an invitation for anyone to assault or harm black women or girls. Black women are the only women who have been historically shamed for innate, human feelings.

The “Mammy” Stereotype

“Mammy” is another one of the black girl stereotypes which go back to the days where black people were enslaved. As the name alluded to, the “Mammy” stereotype essentially paints black women are asexual, unattractive, and merely existing to meet the needs of others. The “Mammy” figure endlessly gives to others; her days revolve around catering to people around her, even if it leads to the detriment of her own well-being.

As you might imagine, this portrayal is hurtful to black women. It paints black womanhood as unimportant and unneeding of care, love or support. The truth of the matter is that black women were not put on this earth to merely live as the help to others. Moreover, black women are deserving of the time, attention, and respect of others. The “Mammy” stereotype is deeply insidious because it affects how black women are viewed and treated by the world.

The “Supporting Character” Stereotype

The “Supporting Character” is one of the black girl stereotypes which is most commonly seen in TV shows and movies. As the name suggests, when black women are in various films and shows, they are often portrayed as ‘the help’ to the white characters. Generally, the “Supporting Character” stereotype involves black women helping white characters out of tight situations, coaching white characters through times of difficulty, or even sacrificing themselves in order for white characters to live.

To some people, these portrayals may seem relatively harmful, but those who are paying attention know better. When black women are cast in TV shows and movies as the “Supporting Characters” to white characters, it discreetly yet systematically conveys that black lives are expendable or otherwise less valuable than white lives. With black Americans consistently dying from the bullets of white police officers, the last thing black women need is the negative reinforcement that their lives don’t matter.

Closing Remarks on Black Girl Stereotypes

Calling out black girl stereotypes is the very first step towards getting rid of them. The Angry Black Girl/Woman, Jezebel, Mammy, and Supporting Character stereotypes are each damaging, toxic, and problematic to black women and black girls. We still have a ways to go before true equality is reached in America; however, we can start by putting an end to the dehumanization of black women and black girls.

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