OPINION

An Ode To Attitudinal Black Women

Yes. No. Oh hell. Maybe we do. I think that there is some truth to the belief that black women have an attitude. Some do. Not all, but some.

When I say “attitude,” I mean a negative manner, disposition, state of being, or state of mind in relation to others.

I have never really been politically correct. Why start today? I had a conversation with a friend over dinner about black women and their “attitude.” The question was “Do black women have an attitude?” My answer was immediately “Yes, some do.” I think that it is important to be clear, I am talking about SOME. It is also important to discuss why.

One particular evening, I was having a conversation with a smart, optimistic, opinionated, black man. He was expressing his experiences with black women who seem to walk around with a chip on their shoulder, all frowned up and never able to receive a simple smile or a “hello, how are you?”

Is there some truth in the stereotype? Yes, there is. I know that I may offend some people, and I want to be clear that being offensive is not my intention…only speaking the truth because that is the first step in change.

During this conversation, I took it upon myself to defend and give some understanding of why the attitude may exist. I am no expert, but I have been accused of sporting an “attitude” in the past. Years ago, a Caucasian female friend said that when she met me I had an “attitude.” I couldn’t believe that she said that about me. Instead of getting mad (as I would back then), I really started to think about why she felt this way. Looking back, I can see it clearly, and I have worked on not having an “attitude” ever since. Back then, I would almost never smile, I was easily offended, and I spoke my mind without the important filter. I DID HAVE AN ATTITUDE. I thought I was just keeping it real and being a strong black woman.

I have learned that there is nothing wrong with being a smiling, friendly, strong black woman. I do not need to be defensive because I no longer worry about people attacking me verbally. It took me a long time to realize that my attitude was my issue and I was putting it on others. There is no reason to have an attitude. Life is good and walking around all frowned up doesn’t make you look strong, it makes you look like a stereotype.

I think that the attitude that is sometimes perceived in black women has various origins. There is sometimes a defensiveness that has been created because we have been through so much. We may also consciously or unconsciously think that we need to be ready in case something else bad happens. We may have a more blunt way of expressing ourselves than others. I think we can be quick to jump to conclusions about what we perceive; feeling disrespected, taken advantage of, or being offended. These are all valid concerns, but there is a way to see things from the other point of view, give people the benefit of the doubt, and graciously speak our minds.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone has bad days. There are times that I do not want to be friendly, but I am at least pleasant. It is not anyone’s fault if I am having a bad day. My goal is to be like “Sunshine” (a nickname that my mom gave me). So, on those days when I feel an “attitude” coming