Notwithstanding the stereotype of being labeled an angry black woman, sometimes I get mad. I saw my mother get mad. She saw her mother get mad.
So, what does that say about us? Do you picture us as overbearing, loud, aggressive, and hostile? Do you see us with fists balled up, poised to pound the kitchen table?
Due to actions taken in my professional life, someone once called me a “mean and angry black woman who is just mad.” If you know me, you know I’m not mean. I smile. I’m nice. I’m kind. I am a black woman. And yes, I admit it: I’m mad (Making A Difference).
I am mad about inequities in our communities and workplaces. I’m mad about children languishing in abusive homes. I’m mad about women being underrepresented in the C-suite. I’m mad about the digital divide and the lack of resources to effectively learn virtually. I’m mad about domestic violence. I’m mad about children reading below grade level. I’m mad that gender pay equity has not been achieved in this country.
I was taught the scripture that says, It is okay to be angry; just don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). Anger is okay— just control it, channel it, and use the passion from it to Make A Difference.
I pray and meditate to calm my spirit. I go to a place of peace, physically and mentally. This could mean temporarily stepping away from the source of my anger, closing my eyes to change the scene, or walking into my prayer closet. I don’t dwell on why I’m angry because usually I’m well aware. I focus on finding a place where I’m controlled by a peaceful spirit. I’ve often been found in my closet in a position that I saw my mother assume when she was mad—on bended knees. My mother taught me that, with deliberate action, I can control which spirit controls me: one of irrational anger or one of purposeful peace. What do you do to control your anger? Where is your anger hiding place?
Although I have spent my entire 40-year career in male-dominated environments, I am still stunned by the level of disrespect I sometimes experience. I choose not to ignore it because it’s wrong. Occasionally, it makes me mad, and I need to nip it in the bud for the next woman CEO. During the recent execution of the first round playoff plans, I had to channel my inner “boss lady” and insist on my questions being answered and my directives implemented. Whether it’s those who need to hear it from my boss, a man, before they take action, or the guy who just bypasses me, his boss, altogether, the latter part of the season presented me with a few opportunities to say, “Not this again.” When the disrespect upsets me, one of my anger management strategies is to have intense “Respect is one of our core values” conversations while drinking out of my “I’m speaking” cup. I also like to slowly walk around the block before taking action. I do whatever it takes to control the madness and stay productive. After all, I got a big job to do. I can’t get distracted. Do you know how to channel your inner “boss lady” and control the madness?
I am very mindful of my state of mind and won’t leave my place of peace until my irrational thoughts yield a purposeful action plan. For example, when I realized that my newly adopted two-year-old daughter could not hear, I was mad at her previous caregivers, doctors, and preschool teachers. No one had diagnosed it for twenty-four months. My anger led me to show all of them what should have happened for this “special needs” foster child. Visit to audiologist. Speech and hearing tests. Hearing test that was evaluated. Surgery to implant ear tubes. Constant monitoring for lip reading. All part of the purposeful anger action plan to Make A Difference for my child. No more reading lips. No more mispronunciations. Underwater fogginess gone. Now she could hear because I got MAD. How are you channeling your anger? Who will benefit from your madness?
Gleaning Passion from It
My mother was passionate about her six children. After 20 years of domestic violence, she got angry enough to leave my father. My quiet mother had to get loud. My submissive mother became aggressive about keeping us safe. Anger, a strong sense of annoyance, and displeasure changed our lives for the better. It caused action to be taken. Pack up. Leave. Don’t look back. Anger transformed into passion gave my mother the strength to do what needed to be done. What are you passionate about? Will you mix your anger with passion and take positive action? Are you MAD enough to make things better?
I am my mother’s daughter. I have a passion for respect, equity, and justice. I don’t hide my passion or anger, although I’ve been told many times to do so. I’m glad I was taught this about anger:
- It’s okay to experience it.
- It is important to control it.
- It’s impactful to channel it, and…
- Transforming it into positive action saves lives.
So be angry, but not vengeful. Get MAD. Cry like a baby. Fight like a girl. Change the world like a woman!