Sassy, or How to Make Black Women’s Anger and Pain a Joke
A lot of Black girls in general understand that they don’t like the word sassy being applied to them, and the reason I see most often cited is that it’s a stereotype that is liberally applied to just about anything resembling a one-liner or a quip.
But there’s another reason that I hate the word sassy for…
Its purpose is to diminish the pain and anger of Black girls. I didn’t realize I was looking at it right in the face until I started polling the situations in which Black girls are called sassy.
First, I should explain that sassy and sass have two different meanings in modern context. “Sassy” is the positive version of “sass”. Everyone wants to be friends with a “sassy Black girl” but no one wants to be friends with someone who sasses. “To sass” = bad. “Sassy”…supposedly a compliment.
And were it applied to people who could tell a great yo mama joke on the concrete playground, I’d be cool with it. But more often than not, it’s applied to Black women who retort (smartly) to angering situations, painful situations, or flat out tragic situations.
I’ve said many times that the only people who are allowed to cry and break down in public are white people, and that Black people are not afford that, much less Black women, which is why any view of tragedy and pain that is determined by how much one breaks down in public is inherently racist. Because of that, new techniques of coping had to be developed, one that is common in white people and recognized in white psychiatry but somehow completely ignored in the discussion of the “sassy Black girl”, using comedy to hide pain. This is common, because Black women have been told loud and clear that their pain is illegitimate, unwanted, and intolerable. So even amongst ourselves, we quip instead.
Look at Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown. Pain for entertainment. Black people are a show, and the lowest points of our lives are the highlight of your Tuesday night after work while you gulp down another glass of wine.
When white people joke to hide pain, it’s sad, it’s deserving of consideration. Black people are just funny. Because they aren’t believed to HAVE pain.
If you find yourself confused about why a Black girl who says she’s triggered is still throwing one-liners or quipping? It’s because that’s a reaction that Black girls tend to have! Chances are, the more sassy your Black girl, the more you’re hurting her and the more she finds she can’t stop but say something because if she doesn’t, she’ll break down in public and she knows she can’t afford to do that.
So quit calling Black girls sassy. It’s nothing but a sign that you find their pain funny.