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Avoiding the “Angry Black Woman” Stigma in the Workplace

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kennesaw chapter.

The phrase “angry black woman” has been used to stereotype and denigrate Black women who express their opinions or assert themselves in the workplace. This harmful stereotype not only perpetuates racism and sexism but also places a circumstantial burden on Black women to regulate their emotions and behavior to conform to expectations that do not apply to their white counterparts.

Black women have historically faced a unique set of challenges in the workplace where they are often held to different standards than their white colleagues.

Studies have shown that Black women are more likely to be perceived as aggressive or angry even when they are expressing the same opinions and behaviors as their white counterparts. These challenges can have serious consequences for Black women, including being overlooked for promotions or being labeled difficult to work with.

In many cases, Black women are forced to suppress natural emotions and personalities to avoid being labeled as the “angry Black woman.” Suppressing emotions can be exhausting and demoralizing because it requires them to constantly monitor and regulate their behavior to fit into narrow and often unrealistic expectations.

Black women also have to work harder to establish relationships and build trust with their colleagues, as their assertiveness can be seen as threatening or intimidating.

The burden of having to be “nicer” than their white counterparts in the workplace can also take a toll on Black women’s mental health. It can lead to feelings of isolation, self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

Additionally, having to suppress their emotions and personalities can lead to physical and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure.

eliminating the stereotype

It is important to recognize and acknowledge the harm caused by the “angry Black woman” stereotype and to work towards eliminating it. This involves not only addressing individual biases, but also challenging systemic racism and sexism in the workplace.

Companies can provide training on unconscious bias and create an inclusive work environment that values diverse perspectives and personalities. Managers and colleagues can also listen to and support Black women when they speak up, instead of dismissing or diminishing their contributions.

The pressure on Black women to be “nicer” than their white counterparts in the workplace is unfair and harmful. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes, imposes an unfair and unethical burden on Black women, and can lead to serious mental and physical health issues.

Eliminating this stereotype requires individual and systemic changes that promote diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace. By eliminating this stereotype, we can create a more equitable and fair work environment for everyone.

Deja Craft

Kennesaw '25

Deja is a book worm and writing-loving southern girl! Originally from New Orleans, she loves the written word and wholeheartedly believes in the “power of the pen”. She is a computer science major with a minor in Business Law! She spends much of her time reading, learning programming languages, and freelance writing. She also enjoys poetry, sewing, and of course writing!