SHE | BE ANGRY BUT NOT TOO ANGRY : BEYOND RESPECTABILITY IN ACADEMIA

As a black African woman who is a part of the African diaspora there have been moments where I have wanted to just scream at someone or cuss them out but alas you can’t do that in the “safe space” of academia. You have to use your words, you have to formulate coherent arguments, you have to qualify your anger. No matter how offensive something someone says about the continent you love, have lived in and spent most of your life in; you have to find a way that is rational and logical to express your anger. You can’t let it overtake you by bursting out and letting loose…. well you can be angry but not too angry. You have to use the literature not your words. When someone says “oh but Africans aren’t educated” you can be angry but not too angry. You have to politely disagree and prove that they are wrong using case studies. When people say “oh but women are so oppressed in Africa” you have to politely disagree and say “oh but there are oppressed everywhere and context is important [insert case study]”.

 

“You have to use your words, you have to formulate coherent arguments,

you have to qualify your anger.”

We have been conditioned to bundle our anger; not to let it consume us but to feel it partly. So when something that is really hurtful or offensive happens like as being told Africans need to develop their cultures you just interject politely. People who see only your outward reaction will say “oh but it didn’t seem to affect you that much” or “you handle it really” when but inside you actually just want to scream and tell how wrong they are! All too often we are taught how to be angry. “This isn’t appropriate” or “you can’t swear at someone when you’re angry you have to be a lady!” But what about the times when it’s too much …when you can’t express in the “respectable” ways you are told to then what? Do you let it loose only just to be told your opinion isn’t valid because it’s “too emotional” or you become the feared trope of you’re just another “angry black woman”? What if you just want to be too angry; what if you’re sick and tired of respectability politics?

Credit photo de couverture : Mother of George (2013) – dir. Andrew Dosunmu // Nigeria

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