Confessions of an Angry Black Male!

It took one stunning video to finally break the “camel’s back” for yours truly, forcing me to admit to this

unvarnished truth; I’m an “Angry Black Male,” a previously hidden part of me that I can no longer jettison. 

There, I said it. It’s out there.

Now that video? It is the one of a Black mother and four young girls in Colorado pulled over and 

handcuffed by gun-wielding police officers. The image of those little girls stretched out and crying on 

the pavement brought out the anger in me and many others. But strangely it prompted me reconsider 

a request from a recent emailer:

“Terry, I’m told that I come across as angry and hope that you will consider writing something on

 the negative effects of the angry Black male stereotype. Would you?”

Absolutely. Here goes.

ABM (Angry Black Male) is a debilitating moniker, one that can send the target of the label into a tailspin of 

second-guessing, carefully measured words and protective hesitation, all in fear of negative reactions if 

perceived that way. And the accompanying worry is that the bigger and blacker you are, the more 

threatening. So, we attempt to tone it down, put on smiles and consciously hold back on our 

naturalness, behaviors that are exhausting.

Now here is what may not be so obvious: There’s a delicate tightrope to walk between being perceived of

as an ABM (or woman) on one hand or a docile “Uncle Tom” on the other, especially when you know

that if your scale is tilted toward the former, the consequences can be deadly.

Here’s my hunch: Allowing oneself to become justifiably angry has health benefits since “holding stuff in” 

can lead to stress, high blood pressure, let alone drug and alcohol abuse. By contrast, letting out the anger

can have an opposite effect. An example is 60-year-old “Ronald,” an African American, known for

expressing his rage at injustices. However, he takes pride in the fact that he says what’s on his mind,

takes no medication and still plays full-court basketball. Go figure.

So where does the ABM stereotype come from?  Arguably, we can point to the news media, the maker of 

stereotypes. For example, in one city, a high-profile Black politician has long been collared with the ABM 

label because of his in-your-face style (and dreadlocks). 

Need more evidence? Just consider how the image of heavyweight boxer George Forman was transformed 

from one of a big, threatening brute into a lovable, grill-selling teddy bear. Or consider Mike Tyson who 

the media transformed from an out-of-control, ear-chomping thug to an affable, beach roamer 

readying to do battle with a shark on Made for TV.  


Gian Fiero, educator, once wrote: “Many times, I and other Black men represent the lone intimate

contact that our colleagues will have with other Black people, Black men in particular. The extent of 

these interactions will be largely determined by their comfort level and acceptance.” Fiero says further 

that entry into the corporate environment for Black men is especially rigorous and that there are high

barriers to entry that many are simply not aware of. These barriers, which also serve as filters, are

predicated on the fears of those who create them.” 

“The dynamics between Black men and their co-workers are truly something to behold. You can see it in

their eyes when Black men show up for interviews (especially when they have a “Black” sounding name). 

Once hired, we must quickly put people at ease by making co-workers feel comfortable.”


Now not to let anyone off my target list, understand that as angry as I am about what happened in 

Colorado and other crimes against African Americans across the nation, that anger extends to those

in my own community who engage in bad behaviors, including Black-on Black crime. And that anger will 

extend to those who don’t exercise their right to vote. 

Okay, now that you know that I’m an ABM, know also that I consider it a liberating badge of honor.

——————————————————————————————————————–

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the 

Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel, The Atlanta

 Business Journal, The Echo World, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award. He can be reached at wwhoward3@gmail.com

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68 thoughts on “Confessions of an Angry Black Male!

  1. Terry,
    Thank you for expressing your heartfelt thoughts, and for having the courage to divulge your feelings. And yes, being able to express one’s anger in a healthy way is something we all must learn to do. If we start teaching our children in grade school skills such as Nonviolent Communications (NVC) and Connection Practice, we can create a much more peaceful and nonviolent world.
    Again, thank you for raising our awareness, and yet another step to help dismantle racism.
    ~Leonard

  2. Hey Terry, you hit it right on when it comes to ABM. It takes a lot in these days and times not to let anger get to you, an especially as a Black man. We deal with more stressful issues than any other people, but we must find a way to eliminate this anger, that will lead to health issues. Thanks for your thoughts in this matter, and it is always good to hear from you. Stay safe!

    Regards,
    Nolan Jones

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