Everyone’s heard the old stereotype that black women are always up-in-arms angry about something.
And no matter how hard a black woman has to fight for position — at her job or even in her own life holding down a home, her kids, her man and dealing with outside forces— her anger is never celebrated as being a Boss. Instead she’s considered an angry bitch.
But consider this: When you grow up in the grip of racial tensions, unrelenting violence, racism, crime, rape, scamming, drinking, and drugging…with a dad permanently checked out in Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital and a mom at the end of her rope raising four children, and moving every time the rent money runs out– sometimes ANGER is all you’ve got to get you through. And for Author Karen E. Quinones Miller, anger was her means to an end in a world where she had nothing else to hold on to.
Karen E. Quinones Miller is the Essence bestselling author of Satin Doll, I’m Telling, Using What You Got, Satin Nights, Passin’ and Uptown Dreams and is releasing her newest book An Angry-Ass Black Woman October 2012.
And this book is the REAL DEAL. I’ve known Karen since my early 20s and I never knew she lived the way she described in Angry Ass Black Woman. This is a gripping story that will have you curling your toes from the moment Karen recounts her life living in a basement with rats to the on-going family raucous that almost breaks her.
An Angry Ass Black Woman is told through a series of flashbacks, as Miller lies in a hospital bed after brain surgery to remove a growing tumor. In a semi-comatose state she can’t move or speak, but she can hear everything going on around her; including the voices of her splintered family. And it’s their very loud and vocal complaints, arguments, and endearments, that sets her mind off into past – and the tragedies, heartbreaks, and victories that make up her life.
But more importantly the lesson here is that Anger sometimes propels us to bring about CHANGE. And Karen has said that her anger has helped her to do something about the things she was unhappy about. In the end, Anger is a GOOD thing. Never let anyone tell you differently!
On September 29th join Karen for the OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH in Philadephia at WarmDaddy’s 1400 Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia. from 1 to 4 p.m. It will be emceed by Philly’s own Patty Jackson from WDASfm.
Here’s more from Karen and Please Preorder An Angry-Ass Black Woman HERE. My copy is on its way!
For more information, go to www.anangryassblackwoman.com
A Conversation with Karen E. Quinones Miller
Q. Your title is a controversial one. What made you decide to use the title “An Angry-Ass Black Woman,” and what does that phrase mean to you?
A. I think the term Angry Black Woman got a bad rap a few years ago. I’m not sure when the phrase was first used, but I know people started using it to describe certain African-American women. The term was used for women who were loud, abrasive, moody, and always ready to tell someone off — for basically no reason. Then when the term was used to describe Michelle Obama, my question was . . . why? Not every woman is an Angry Black Woman. Why did they decide to attach that term to her? Personally, I found it insulting. Insulting in light of what the media has put forth as a definition of an Angry Black Woman.
I think An Angry-Ass Black Woman is a woman who gets so fed up with a situation surrounding social justice – or other matters – that she stands up and does something about it, and in a very public and in-your-face way. Harriet Tubman was An Angry-Ass Black Woman. She got beat with that whip one too many times and she said, “To Hell with this. Why am I being chained, worked to death, and beaten? Because I’m a slave? Well, I’ll be a slave no longer.” And not only did she “free” herself, she made trips back and forth from the South to North to free hundreds of other slaves. She was An Angry Ass Black Woman. And then there’s Rosa Parks. She got on the city bus, she was tired after a hard days work, and all she wants to do is give her feet a break as she traveled home. But then the bus driver tells her to get up so a white woman can sit down. Ms. Parks said, “No. I have every right to this seat as anyone else paying their fare. I will not get up.” She let her anger at the situation move her to make a stand. A stand, mind you, that helped start the Civil Rights Movement. At that moment, she became An Angry Ass-Black Woman. Then there’s Sojourner Truth. Ida B. Wells, and many others. All of these were women who were being wronged and got angry about it, and instead of just slinking away muttering curses under their breath, they did something about it. These were Angry-Ass Black Women, and I am proud to count myself amongst them.
Q. After having already written a few novels that were to some degree based on your life when and why did you decide to tell your own story more openly and directly in An Angry-Ass Black Woman?
A. It was in 2005, after I came home, and was recovering from my brain surgery. I really had time to reflect on my life, and how it affected the way I interact with people and how I view issues. I’m funny about a lot of things, for instance I don’t allow people to use the “N” word in my house. And, I have to admit, I can be defensive. I’m getting better at it, believe me . . . but at one time my philosophy was “Better a chip on my shoulder than a knife in my back.” I’ve gotten better since then, much better. But I wanted to write a book that could make people understand why I can be so defensive, and ready to throw down at any moment. And I wanted to help people understand me and women like me. I thought this book would be good way to explain a lot of the reasons I do what I do, and feel how I feel. But also writing this
book has been QUITE therapeutic for me . . . writing about the various events that shaped my life has made me really analyze them and myself. And I actually feel I know myself better because of it.
Q. An Angry-Ass Black Woman is an autobiographical novel. What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean in terms of the content of this book? Why did you decide to tell your story in this format as opposed to in a straight-up memoir?
A. An autobiographical novel, in my view, is an autobiography that doesn’t change the outcomes of events, but sometimes downplay some things, and changes some of the minor details as to protect identities. Most people don’t realize it, but Claude Brown’s classic, Manchild in the Promised Land, is also an autobiographical novel.
Q. How was the experience of writing this book different from that of your previous books?
A. It took me longer to write this book because there was a lot of real reflection and self-analyzing going on as I was writing. At times it was hard, like when I was replaying the deaths of loved ones, and the tragedies that happened to others. Several times I was writing a passage, and I had to wonder . . . was there something I could have done that would have made things turn out better. I do think I’m a better person for writing this book. Really having to look back at your life has to have some effect on you.
Q. How did your family members feel about your decision to write an autobiographical novel? How did they react to your portrayal of them?
A. There were none who specifically said they didn’t want me to write it, but I know some were – and are – a little nervous. No more nervous than me, though.
Q. If you had the power to change the ending for one character in An Angry-Ass Black Woman, who would it be?
Kitty. And I’ll just leave it at that.
Q. Throughout the book it’s clear that you’ve always been an avid reader. Who are some of the authors that have influenced you as an author?
A. Langston Hughes, most definitely! That man has gotten me through some very hard times! I love both his poetry and prose, and would go back and read certain works when feeling depressed just so I could start feeling better . . . and it never failed to work. I especially love his short stories featuring Jess B. Semple – aka Simple.
And I pretty much feel the same way about Mark Twain. I love his novels, and his short stories. Like Hughes, the sharp wit that is always displayed by his down-home-sprung characters really appeals to me. I also adore F. Scott Fitzgerald. You can see this was a writer who was meticulous when it came to his craft. He is one of a very few writers who I would say write “pretty.” The words are prose, but they almost feel like poetry . . . like you could lie on top of them and just gently float away. Ralph Ellison is another writer whom I put in that class.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are looking to turn their dreams into a reality?
A. My advice is if you want to write, just go ahead and write! Worry about getting published, yes . . . but not to the point that you don’t even start writing.
Also, you’ve GOT to read. There are two things that will make you a better writer – reading and writing. You’ve got to do both!
Lastly, I would suggest that – if possible – you should join a writing group. You’ll love the support, but also your manuscript will be the better because of it.
Q. Do you still return to Harlem often? If so, how has it changed or how has your vision of it changed since you were young?
A. I still visit ten-twelve times a year, and yes . . . it has changed drastically. Many of the changes are for the good – I’m glad to see it being built up, and dilapidated buildings being renovated, but I HATE that the rents are now so high that many African-American people can no longer afford to live there. It’s ironic . . . the way things are going, ten years from now people are going to read Manchild in the Promised Land and/or An Angry-Ass Black Woman and not be able to relate it to the Harlem of their present.
Q. How does your story continue from here? Are you working on any new projects?
A. My story continues because my life continues . . . and the combination of family and writing is what keeps me going. I’m actually working on a suspense novel at the moment, and I recently wrote a screenplay that I’m thinking of shopping around. But you can count on me sticking around in the literary world, and I hope not to have a four-year disappearance like I had since my last book was published!