On the latest episode of Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast, guests Issa Rae and Ziwe opened up about the harmful nature of the “angry Black woman” stereotype that has affected their careers. Markle explained that as a biracial Black woman, she was always expected to deliver attitude in order to land Hollywood roles.
“I remember when I was auditioning, and even the idea of Black roles — I remember those casting sheets where the description of the character, she always had to have an edge or an attitude,” Markle said. She also referenced the book “Algorithms of Oppression” and how search engine results often lead to harmful tropes about Black women.
“Those were the seeds being planted. We all know that sometimes things make you feel angry or sad or hurt or upset — and that’s not a gender or racially specific feeling. Yet, this trope of the angry Black woman, it persists.”
Issa Rae said that she wants to display the complexity of Black women through her work. “I want to be able to show that not all women are like this. I don’t feel fierce, flawless all the time,” Rae shared. “These characters aren’t that all the time, and that’s OK.”
She also stated that she does experience feelings of anger but is careful about not appearing angry in public: “I can’t lose my cool, I can’t do that, especially as a Black woman, but also just even as a public figure now. Because people are looking for ways to justify their perception of you.”
Talk show host Ziwe, born Ziwe Fumudoh, explained a similar feeling. “To be the character of Ziwe that is brash and rude and thoughtful is in direct opposition to what a woman should be publicly, according to sexism.” She added that it hurts when her guests say they are intimidated by her.
“Usually, when I’m talking to an interviewer, the first thing that they say to me is, ‘I’m terrified of you,’” Ziwe said. “I’m like, Oh my God, that hurts my feelings. I’m a sensitive Pisces. Like, I don’t want you to be scared of me. That’s not my goal.”
It’s nice to see Markle to use her platform to amplify the stories of Black women.