By: Michael “Big Mike” McDonald
I’m sure we have all heard the term “Angry Black Guy” in our lifetimes, and I’m sure that we would equally agree that it is not a compliment. “Angry Black Guy” is often casually applied to those of us who refuse to accept the status quo, and are not afraid to express it vocally. Truthfully speaking it doesn’t matter if we are speaking with our inside voice or shouting from the mountain tops, the fact that we are challenging the dominant society’s position automatically gets us labeled as irrational and angry, when in all actuality it is dominant society that is irrational!
With that being said; having the stigma of being an angry black person attached to our brand can have detrimental effects on those who have ambitions of fully integrating into the dominant society. We often find ourselves ostracized from the mainstream black culture, labeled on the job and targets for law enforcement in the streets. We are methodically surveilled by middle management, and authorities at every turn; and oftentimes we unknowingly get our associates caught up in the mix. In all honesty it’s a hard life, and it’s not for the faint at heart. You have to be real “G code” with this sh*t or else you will fold!
WHO IS THE “ANGRY BLACK GUY”?
In order to fully wrap our minds around the dynamics that go into being an angry black person we must look back to the period of slavery. The power of imagery is unparalleled when it comes to shaping public opinion, and the institution of slavery was no different. Most people knew that enslaving another human being was wrong, so the images of slavery had to be candy-coated in order to keep the public at bay. In order to achieve this public pacification illustrations of slavery depicted happy slaves working in the homes and the fields of benevolent masters; it was a glorious time! (Sarcasm) According to the slave masters black slaves were part of the family. They were housed, fed, clothed, and the plantation offered them a stable existence; it definitely offered them stable employment. Those who were discontent with plantation life were labeled as trouble makers and subsequently targeted for punishment or extermination.
Now lets take the happy slave image and fast forward to the post-war Re-construction period and Jim Crow. You will notice stark differences in how the free black person was portrayed. Instead of big pie faced smiles people saw disfigured snarls and exaggerated features that looked almost un-human. Black males in particular were portrayed as the lazy dregs of society who engaged in a host of crimes, most notably murder and the violation of the dominant society’s most prized possession; the white woman. The sad part is that a lot of black people started to believe what was being propagated in the media, and many of us still do today. If you are a black male you might as well be prepared to be pre-judged. Keep in mind that your mere existence is criminal in the eyes of some people.
We have fallen into the trap of believing the propaganda campaign that was waged against us over 100 years ago, and through that process of indoctrination we have lost touch with who we truly are. Between the television, radio, print and internet our true identity has been lost in translation, while the true nature and values of our oppressors have been reinvented to make them look like the good guys. Nothing is further from the truth.
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THE GREAT MISREPRESENTATION OF HISTORY
My wife, my son and I were on our way from Atlanta back home to Mobile last month and we stopped in a small town off interstate 65 just south of Montgomery to grab a bite to eat. Once we were inside and seated we took a moment to take in the atmosphere which was overwhelmingly Eurocentric. We noticed the walls were decorated with old black and white photographs that depicted life in this small town throughout its history. We also noticed that black people were conspicuously missing from the the majority of the photos, with the exception of one man.
My wife was the first to notice this because we were the only black people in the establishment with the exception of service staff. It was evident that the majority of the photos were taken during the early to mid part of the 20th century which fell right in the middle of the Jim Crow. A period in American history that saw segregation as the law of the land. This made perfect sense out of the fact that only one black person was present in the photographs.
The pictures depicted a different type of life in which white people appeared to be happy, and the community thriving in a segregated society. It was at that moment I came to the realization that many white Americans had the privilege to grow up seeing sanitized images of their past, with very little visible about their transgressions. Our struggle at the hands of their ancestors was essentially wiped from the memories of the generations to follow, and their true history was replaced with a romanticized version that made them more comfortable.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
This prioritization of white comfort over truth was and still is further reinforced by images of Americana and disguised as patriotism; which is how the racist ideology of white supremacy is transferred from generation to generation. It is really seen as a positive value which is why it’s so difficult to gain any substantial ground when the subject of racism and black liberation is brought up in mixed company. While the south is considered the epicenter of American racism no region inthe United States can boast their record on the treatment of black Americans. The same problems exist for us everywhere! They may not try to lynch you in California or New York, but there are plenty of other systems and processes in place to subjugate blacks and other minority groups. One thing that transcends state borders in this country is the overwhelming intolerance of unfettered freedom for black people, most notably the freedom of speech. Even so-called Liberals have some sort of racial hang-ups when it comes to race relations in America, because social advancement for blacks will ultimately cost them something. Freedom isn’t free!
Social media has opened my eyes to the harsh reality that some of my “friends” are not on the up an up when it comes to race, and regardless of how close you may think you are with someone of the opposite race there are stark differences when it comes to experience. I’m by no means promoting segregation, I’m merely issuing a warning to watch how you engage them on the topic. As a matter of fact the very first time I heard the term “angry black guy” it was from one of my white friends. They said that I sounded bitter and angry when I really thought I was being fiery and passionate; silly me! It still took me becoming more educated before I realized the true reason why I was considered angry. Shooting from the hip I will say that white people don’t give a f*ck about your struggle, just like you don’t give a f*ck about theirs. Empathy is rooted in perception, and perception is formed by a mixture of nature and nurture. Even if I say I can understand your struggle I really can’t. I just want to, or not! After years of research and life experiences I finally realized I was an “angry black guy”, and I’m damn proud to be one!
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WHY I OWN IT
It took awhile for me to embrace my role, but as we enter the third decade of the 21st century I’m settling in quite comfortably. I’m sure some people would ask why I’m okay with having that stigma attached to my brand, and I would answer because its liberating. I love being able to express myself so openly in such a repressive society. I overstand the fact that America is irredeemably racist, and the dominant culture isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to their freedom of speech on the matter. I may lose a job or two, or even lose friends in my journey, but I cannot allow that to interfere with where I have to go. We are interlocked in a battle of good versus evil, and it is my duty to the future generations to fight for what is right!
POLITICS & US
Let’s just be honest; America owes black Americans boatloads of money (pun intended!) for the 245 years of slave labor, and double that amount for the 100 years of Jim Crow that followed. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to lend money to someone who refused to pay up when it was time understands the anger that accompanies that situation. We are no different than the lender, and right now America is in default with black people. Listening to politicians talk about how we don’t deserve reparations for the free labor that went into building the greatest nation on earth is enough to make anyone angry, which is why I do not see Democratic candidates any differently than Republicans. They both represent the hypocrisy that has plagued this nation since its inception, so in my mind the culpability is shared equally between both parties. This is why it is so important we break the cycle of voting strictly down party lines in national elections. All too often our votes are defaulted to candidates who do nothing more than pay lip service to the black cause, and renege once they are in office, leaving us to navigate the political landscape on our own; oftentimes to no avail.
THE 2020 FREEDOM CHALLENGE
Finally, putting all politics aside. Angry Black Guys challenge the core beliefs of the dominant culture, and the history that paints them in such a favorable light. Now is the time to repay the debt that has been left on our backs, and deflate the value of the system of wicked beliefs that has plagued our people since 1619. Challenge their heroes, challenge their legitimacy and challenge their gods! Do not let our lack of candidness on the subject of racial injustice continue to reinforce our mistreatment, refuse to be silent! Silence is implied consent and I refuse to give credence to hypocrisy. In the words of my dear Great Auntie “Sh*t on that sh*t!”. So say goodnight to the angry black guy!