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Any black woman that dares to stand and be counted is often deemed angry by the privileged. O’Reilly is the king of denial and regularly employees his white, male privilege to create bodies of colour as less than. I could probably dedicate an entire blog post to him and his ignorance but others have already done so far more eloquently than I ever could.
O’Reilly is determined to declare Michelle Obama an ABW (angry black woman). This commentary comes without him ever once examining his position of privilege in this world. As an upper class white male, his body exists with great power, and this combined with his position as a media idiot spokesperson allows him to frame discourse.
Michelle is an ABW because she is a woman that is educated, successful and opinionated. Black women have historically fallen into three categories, the licentious whore (read: jezebel), loving nurturer (read: mammy) or ball busting shrew (read: sapphire) . Each stigmatization has the specific purpose of creating us as caricatures rather than real people. These stereotypes are one dimensional and the basis of their existence is their reaction to their environments. Black women are universally seen as objects rather than subjects; and personalities like O’Reilly perpetuate these images because it maintains white hegemony.
An autonomous woman that demands respect does not pander to the concerns of the white male power elite and is therefore a threat to their privilege. While he views his questions as innocent interrogations in fact what they are, are an attempt to reduce her validity as a person. If she is angry, the anger is deemed illegitimate. Quite unspoken is the opinion that her anger is based in her refusal to capitulate to the white male power base. Every ABW could be happy if only they would be more like Mammy or Jezebel.
Unlike ABW’s, Jezebel and Mammy exist to perpetuate white comfort and white rule. Since slavery socially black women have been deemed no better than beasts of burden who ultimately exist to find pleasure in the service of others rather than in our own joys and freedom. To decide unilaterally that we are subject rather than object is to declare manumission.
Emancipation simply cannot be tolerated because patriarchy and white hegemony depend on a support staff to maintain their rule. If black women refuse to act in collusion with their oppression headship cannot be maintained. Calling a WOC an ABW is a disciplinary action, and it is specifically meant to remind us of our place in the race hierarchy.
Privilege assumes that we have no right to our anger. It is irrational and based on emotion because our historical purpose is to serve. To be angry is to deny the right of white males to their power. The current power structure is a social creation and not an independent source of nature. Osmosis, and fertilization, are acts of nature, encoding bodies with value and difference is a result of our desire to privilege. O’Reilly is not more entitled to autonomy than any other living being and it is this fact that daily he works to fight against. That Michelle will not offer him her breast for nurture or her genitals for pleasure means that she has decided her own worth. If a WOC unilaterally decides that she is an equal rather than a subservient body, O’Reilly and men of his ilk would not exist with privilege. Like any other ruling group in history white males will not release or reduce their privilege and therefore when we hear the taunt of ABW we should understand it for what it is– a call to war in the maintenance of white supremacy.
Cross Posted at Womanist Musings