"Angry" Black Women 

by Ene Agi

Illustration Thesis, BDes, OCAD University (2020)
Advisor: Jody Hewgill

Angry” Black Women is a series of editorial illustrations which portrays viral instances of racialized sexism to critique the lens through which our society views black women as well as the widespread vilification of our responses to this misogynoir. Renaming the emotions behind the actions and words of the women in question, “Angry” Black Women seeks to expose that this label is deliberately used to discredit and minimize black women’s perspectives as well as bully us out of resisting oppression.


Titled after the song “Mad” from Solange’s 2016 album A Seat at the Table, thiscover image illustrates that black women “[have] the right to be mad,” but areso tone-policed that they must express any discontent in the mildest ways in order to be heard—which Solange managed by deliberately singing in soft falsetto tones.


Throughout her career, Serena Williams has had to deal with excessive worldwide criticism and minimizing of her talents. In 2018, she was heavily penalized for expressing her mid-game grievances to umpire Carlos Ramos, while several men in tennis have received no punishment for behaving objectively worse. Determined addresses the double standards and the barrage of criticism that black women face as well as our ability to excel despite it.


Dignified illustrates the period of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite (2016), during which Jada Pinkett Smith released a video calling for the boycott of the Academy Awards Ceremony due to its history of snubbing excellent actors and filmmakers of colour.Although she expressed that black people do not need to beg for acknowledgement from a white institution and should instead come together and award themselves,the general reception was that she simply had sour grapes that her husband, Will Smith, failed to be nominated.


In 2017, Lupita Nyong’o made an Instagram post expressing disappointment after her kinky hair was edited out of a magazine cover for Grazia UK. Disappointed addresses the dominance of European beauty standards and the erasure of African features in the media.


While the 2016 female reboot of Ghostbusters received general misogynistic disdain,Leslie Jones experienced horrific racist and sexist abuse on Twitter, which drove her off of the internet in tears. Devastated addresses the differences between sexism against white women and black women as well as the tendency of social media platforms to allow abuse and harassment (under the guise of free speech) when it is directed at the most marginalized groups and individuals.


In 2018, award-winning veteran comedian and actress, Mo’Nique, called for a Netflix boycott after she was offered $500,000 for a stand up special, compared to Amy Schumer’s $11 million (negotiated up to $13 million), Chris Rock’s $20 million,and Seinfeld’s $100 million. Unopen to negotiation, Netflix failed to explain why a comedian with Mo’Nique’s resume would be offered so much lower, and even called her claims of prejudice “nonsensical.” Undervalued addresses the practice of grossly undervaluing the work of black women experts, in any field,and acknowledges that there are multiple levels of disparity between differently marginalized groups.

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