Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anger is a privilege

Essayist Terrence Heath writes that anger is a privilege. Angry white men are allowed to sweep Newt Gingrich to office (20 years ago) and it was assumed they had a right to be angry and whatever they were angry about should be remedied. Tea Party members are allowed to be angry. So are the conservative talking heads – they're even allowed to rile up their audience. Even paramilitary groups wanting to secede from America are allowed to be angry.

But then there is the angry black person. A black person is allowed to show joy, suffering, sadness, fear, and stoicism. Most of these emotions on display reaffirm the power and privilege of others.
All of these things are allowed, but not anger. Anger implies entitlement, whether to material goods, power, privilege, or respect. Anger implies a right to expect something, and is a justifiable response to not receiving one’s due. And you aren’t due anything you’d have a right to be angry about having been denied.

To be labeled an “angry black woman” or an “angry black man,” however, is to be dismissed as a cartoonish stereotype. Worse, any show of anger means being seen as a threat. Either way, the “angry black man” or “angry black woman” is someone who must either be put in his or her place, or effectively put down to preserve the status quo.

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