Let’s talk a bit about taking back words.
If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me about one of my nicknames this bitch would be damn near debt free (wink). I’ve had the nickname Shark-Fu…or some variation on that theme…since I was a wee bitch of five. And the ABB nickname was the inspiration of readers of my blog AngryBlackBitch.com. The interesting thing is that both my nickname and the name of my blog are the result of my deliberate claiming of language and words previously used against me.
I became the victim of a bully the first day of kindergarten and remained a steady target throughout my grade school career. There were a lot of reasons why I appealed to bullies…this bitch was one of the only students of color, my brother was well known around the neighborhood for public displays of autism and I was always good for a post ridicule cry. But when I began to experience dental drama as a result of an overcrowded mouth…well, an already miserable situation went into overdrive.
Two of my permanent teeth decided to come in where they could get in and that happened to be behind my bottom row of teeth. While my mother consulted with my dentist and the family pocketbook, my fellow students began to taunt me on the bus. When I came home…crying, of course…because I’d been called a shark my mother rolled her eyes and told me “then you need to be a shark, girl, and stop letting those fools get under your skin.”
I thought about it all night and decided to give it a try. So, I spent a week researching sharks at the library and found out that they are fantabulous and fierce creatures worthy of respect not bus-based taunting. The next time a classmate called me a shark I replied with a “thank you.” And damn if that didn’t shut him up for a week!
The teeth eventually were pulled but I’ve been Shark-Fu (my sister settled on that version) ever since.
Years later I found myself gifted with a blog for my birthday and searching around unsuccessfully for a title. I thought about what I wanted to share and discuss through my blog, but that didn’t inspire any title ideas. Then I thought about how people may respond to my posts and added a dash of fucking with folk’s expectations and that led to the AngryBlackBitch title.
See, I realized that the women being labeled angry black bitches were pretty damned fantabulous. The label was meant to diffuse their power and shut them up…it being built on an understanding of the so-called benefits of conformity and silence that my family passed down like other families passed down good glassware.
Don’t raise your voice…loud black women are threatening.
Don’t use naughty language… they already think black people can’t speak proper.
Don’t make and maintain eye contact…you may come across as intimidating.
Try not to be so “ethnic”…you don’t want to go around reminding folks through your name, accent, hair, clothing, food or music that you are different.
And, for the love of social acceptance and peace, don’t get angry!
Just don’t…or you’ll pay a price.
Hold it in, because if you let it out they’re going to you’re just another…uh huh, that’s right.
And then they will dismiss your point but only because you frightened them…right?
If you had only sat perfectly straight in your chair whilst wearing that acceptable outfit with oh so non-ethnic hair and spoken in low viciously proper sentences as you expressed your frustration over the wrong done to you without passion or conviction they would have listened.
That’s the pitch…trust a bitch, I’ve heard it my entire life…and it is, has always been and will always be bullshit.
I reject that contract even as I reclaim my anger and my bitchitude…and a bunch of naughty words that I simply adore using.
Now, I’m not saying that all y’all need to get down with it.
Some folks will never dig it and that’s cool – there isn’t a bitchitude mandate that I’m aware of…yet.
But for this bitch claiming and taking back language has proven to be just as empowering as embracing my inner shark…
…with the added benefit of stumping those knavish trolls who can’t come up with anything else to call me in the comments.
Notes from a bitch…
Let’s talk a bit about taking back words.