The Unexpressed Anger of Black Men in America

Updated: November 1, 2013

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — In the year that has been called “The Year of the Angry White Male,” it seems as if everybody can express their anger but Black men.

The “white Tea baggers” can get angry but not Black men (especially if you are a Black Panther). Rush, Hannity, Beck, and Bill O’Reilly, in fact, are allowed to come on television every night professing their anger but as Black men, we are told to suppress our anger and pretend like nothing is wrong.

We, in fact, must smile and keep on smiling or force being fired for expressing our opinions. And if we are “allowed” to speak, we must speak with a soft voice like Michael Jackson because if we have too much base in our voice, we will be perceived as being a threat.

As a result, somebody might call security and ask us to exit the building.

Yes, when we speak with passion, it is characterized as yelling and we are often told to “calm down.” Ask the hosts of the Two Live Stews, a syndicated radio program in Atlanta about this?

Because during a heated debate with the infamous Skip Bayless on ESPN’s 1st and 10, host Dana Jacobson gently placed her hands on Ryan Stewart’s shoulder and told him politely to “calm down.”

Why? Because, they will be absolutely no yelling or finger-pointing allowed on this show. Sorry, Stephen A. Smith. Those are the “unhidden” rules. I didn’t make them.

Because according to Jonathan Capehart, a editorial writer for the Washington Post “African-American men are taught at a very young ages (or learn the hard way) to keep our emotions in check, to not lose our cool, lest we be perceived as dangerous or menacing or given someone a reason to doubt our ability to handle our job.”

“There’s no African-American version of say, Rahm Emmanuel, the White House former Chief of Staff with a widely known and celebrated reputation for F-bombs and confrontation.”

As silly as that may sound, it is true. Whether it is in the classroom, workplace, press box, boardroom, courtroom, basketball court, football field, or the White House.

We are told to keep our emotions in check.That’s why you’ll never see a Black version of Bob Knight coaching a college basketball team cursing and slinging chairs across the court like he did at Indiana.

That type of behavior simply would not be tolerated if we were on the opposite side of the chair. Besides, there would be a high-price to pay for such unprofessional conduct by any Black man, who dares to try it. (Ask Kanye West)

Because in the worldwide world of sports, public displays of anger by any Black athlete will always be viewed as inappropriate and uncivilized. Consider some of the social commentary condemning Terrell Owens, Venus Williams, and Rasheed Wallace for their public outbursts.

This is one reason why the former University of Kentucky basketball star Demarus Cousins has been catching so much hell from the media, because he had the nerve to confront and argue with his head coach John Calipari during a nationally televised game.

Why? Because Black men are suppose to be docile, friendly, soft, and non-threatening.

That’s why when President Barack Obama was attempting to address the nation before being rudely interrupted by South Carolina Republican Senator Joe Wilson, who shouted “You Lie,” he had to bite his bottom lip and hold his composure.

Why? Because, being a Black man in Washington, D.C. and showing any form of anger, would be considered political suicide. This is one of the main reasons President Obama was considered so “selectable” and won the presidency.

Because during his political campaign, despite all the heated debates, death threats, name-calling, and mudslinging done by the Republican Party, he remained cool, calm, and collective throughout the entire process.

Why? Because, we must always…I mean always … keep our cool.

Let’s take a look at the recent political finger-pointing incident between President Obama and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that took place last week in Arizona, in which Brewer said “I felt a little bit threatened, if you will, in the attitude that he (President Obama) had, because I was there to welcome him,”

Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

Arizona Gov.Jan Brewer had the “audacity” to put her finger in the face of the President of the United States as if he was her child. Let’s not forget, the finger-waving incident involving NBA Commissioner David Stern and Dwyane Wade which occured during the NBA lockout. (Read my article “Playing Plantation Politics with Bryant Gumbel and David Stern to learn more)

Same thing; different incident.

But despite this blatant disrespect, (we) as Black men are not supposed to get angry.

Besides, nobody wants to see an angry Black man.

Hell, the Incredible Hulk can get angry before we can.

The “so-called Jews” can get angry about their Holocaust but we can’t get angry about slavery. Hilariously, comedian Chris Rock seems to be the only Black man I know that can get angry but he must be funny while he is doing it.

Why? Because… America hates to see an angry Black man.

Just ask Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, when he called 1 million Black men to march on Washington, if America hates to see the anger of Black men.

Why? Because subconsciously, they think, we are going to incite a “riot”, cause a rebellion, an uprising, a revolution and seek revenge for the way our ancestors were treated by their forefathers for over 400 years.

For this very reason, in my opinion, movie makers have tried to capitalize on this build-up anger being suppressed and depressed by Black men by making Samuel L.Jackson the “poster child” for Black Rage in Hollywood.

But this artificial anger produced and packaged in Hollywood is simply “viewed” as entertainment. As a result, white movie goers can watch his movies and applaud Jackson’s acting skills while getting his autograph and a family picture with him afterwards with everybody smiling and hang it on their living room wall for all their friends and neighbors to see.

Despite Hollywood’s attempt to profit off our frustration, it was Hip-Hop music, however, in the late 70’s and earlier 80’s, up to the 90’s that became one of the only art forms that truly allowed Black men to express their aggression and anger with groups like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with the (Message), Public Enemy (Fight the Power), Boogie Down Production (Self-Destruction) and N.W.A (F****, the Police) leading the way.

But over the years, the anger that Hip-Hop expressed has been commercialized, controlled, and packaged as a product of self-destruction, self-hatred, and self degradation instead of a voice for social change.

As a result, rapper/actor and movie director Ice Cube, who once was the face of frustration for Hip-Hop, has been replaced with white rapper Eminem.

Why? Like I said before, nobody likes to see an angry Black man.
To be brutally honest, most Caucasians believe that there is no reason for Black people to be angry or upset anyway, especially if you are a million dollar athlete.

This is one reason why Muhammad Ali was hated so much.

Besides, in their point of view, what does an athlete like li really have to be angry about? He has all the money, cars, houses, and women a man could possibly desire. So, why is he wasting his time complaining about things he can’t change?

As a result, most sports reporters seem shocked when athletes speak out against any injustice that affects the African-American community.
But for some odd reason, few Black athletes, however, have the courage to publicly speak out against issues like racism, police brutality, or discrimination, which leads most fans to believe that award-shows, money, and material things are the cure all for Black male aggression or anger.

As a result, when they see it explode on the court or on the field, they are “shocked and appalled.”

Why? Because, nobody wants to see an angry Black man, especially a superstar athlete? In other words, shut up and play ball. Nobody wants to hear your opinions. We pay you to play ball nothing else.

Why? Because, as I stated earlier, Black men and Black people as a whole are suppose to be docile, soft, non-threatening.

For instance, during the obvious miscarriage of justice that occurred during the brutal beating of Rodney King by the L.A.P.D. in 1991, the senseless shooting of Sean Bell by the N.Y.P.D in 2006, and even the recent murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, we were told to “remain silent”

Even when Black people were dying in the streets in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, governmental officials tried to convince us that we shouldn’t be angry. Even when we saw Black people dying in the streets, standing on houses waiting to be rescued, we were told not to get angry.

Even during a radio interview when former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin yelled “Now get off your asses (government) and let’s do something, and let’s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country!!!!”

Many politicians felt that he was out of line and out of order for using such inappropriate language in a leadership position.

Why? Because, “subconsciously” they want us to have a “happy-go-lucky attitude.” In other words, they want us to have a slave-mentality even in 2010.

In effect, they try to convince and comfort us by placing their hands on our shoulder or patting us on our backs while saying things like: “You guys need to stop complaining so much. Hell, you should “just be happy” you’re living in America.

Besides, if you are not happy here, go back to Africa.” Even, President Obama has heard that “go back to Africa” remark especially coming from the Tea Party.

Yeah, that’s what they want us all to believe. “Don’t worry; be happy”

Do you remember that ridiculous “buck dancing slave song” by Bobby McFerrin released in September of 1989 entitled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy’?

That song, in fact, became the unofficial theme song for Black America during that time in which the government wanted us all to sing as if it was our Star Spangle Banner.

Because as long as we are singing, dancing, playing ball, and telling some dirty jokes to make them laugh, everything is fine in their minds.

By the way, keep doing that silly little jig John Wall, they like that.

But, DeMarcus Cousins, you better watch your back.

Why? Because, nobody likes to see an angry Black man.

Just ask, the Dallas Cowboy’s Dez Bryant? 

Eric D.Graham is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, where he received a B.A. in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio and Television and a minor in History, with an emphasis in African-American Studies. Currently, he is the Editor and Chief of  Black Athlete Sports Network, where his articles  appear daily along with his controversial  cartoon character Bobbee Bee “The Hater.” Graham can be reached at

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