In second year, introduction to Equity Studies I had a reading that still moves me till this day. Unfortunately I do not remember the title of this article or who the author was but the gist of the reading was that the author was often labeled as the “angry black woman” and she felt that people in social justice and human rights advocacy weren’t angry enough because in her opinion anger was the very thing that ignites change.
Now as somebody who has trouble staying angry even when I know I should I found this idea particularly moving. Not being angry often means people take advantage of you, they don’t make an effort to remain on your good side, they are not respectful of the things that offend you because they know you will let it go and carry on like nothing is wrong. For these reasons you need to be angry and you need to be explicit about your anger. Being passive aggressive will get you nowhere.People aren’t mind readers and they surely wouldn’t know that you’re upset if you carry on masking it with loaded statements and subliminal messages. Be verbal, be expressive, let the world know without a shadow of doubt that you’re angry. Bask in it.
Here’s where things get tricky however, I don’t feel that you should speak in anger. With biblical support (James 1: vs 19-20) I can say that speaking in anger will not edify you. In your anger you say things that you may not really mean, you will be hurtful and cutting, you will burn more than you heal. So what is a girl to do? You can’t ignore your anger and you shouldn’t speak in anger so it seems like you’re pretty stuck. Except you’re not.
What I have come to understand is that we need to learn to use our anger. Using your anger means that you detach yourself from the heat of it and channel that energy to effect positive change. This means unpacking your anger. Ask yourself a few key questions; why am I angry? am I justified in my anger? what can be done about it? Often times, I discredit my anger on the second question because I try to think of why the other party would have acted as they did and its usually more difficult to stay angry when I do that because I realize how imperfect we all are and how I could have acted similarly. This should however not stop me from acting. Just because we are all imperfect doesn’t make everything okay. Sometimes we need to be called out on our imperfections in order to grow.
Basically, whether you are upset at a situation or a person you need to use your anger to create the change you want to see. That change may start in you or it may come as a result of you speaking about it. I wish I remember who the article was by just so I could re-read it and fully appreciate the wisdom in that piece. Nevertheless it caused me to think and consequently learn.