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Debunking the Myth of the “Angry Black Woman”: An Exploration of Anger in Young African American Women

J. Celeste Walley-Jean
Black Women, Gender + Families
Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall 2009), pp. 68-86
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Debunking the Myth of the “Angry Black Woman”: An Exploration of Anger in Young African American Women
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Abstract Research on anger in African American females is lacking yet extremely important. The stereotype of the “angry black woman” has dominated society’s view of African American females; however, empirical evidence supporting the stereotype is nonexistent. In an effort to empirically test the misperception of African American women as overly angry or aggressive, this project explored the experience of anger in seventy-six African American women and compared it to a reference group (i.e., the normative sample of the measure used). Participants completed the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 (STAXI-2). On most of the scales of anger of the STAXI-2, there were no significant differences between the current sample and the normative sample. Notably contrary to the widespread image, African American women in both age groups reported significantly less frequent angry feelings in situations where they may receive criticism, perceived disrespect, and negative evaluations (i.e., angry reaction). Furthermore, younger women reported a greater tendency to experience and suppress intense angry feelings rather than expressing them either physically or verbally. Summarily, results of the current study provide initial empirical evidence disconfirming the stereotype of the “angry black woman.”

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