Created By: NoirGrimoir on July 8, 2011 Last Edited By: NoirGrimoir on July 11, 2011
Troped

Black Boss Lady

She's black, she's a lady and she's the boss. She's also everywhere in television.

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Trope
There appears to be a growing trend for making the Da Chief the polar opposite of the old, white man he always was in the past. There's a new boss in town, okay? And the Cowboy Cop, or whatever smart-alic subordinate she has better watch out, because she isn't putting up with any of his crap.

The Black Boss Lady is characterized by being a Twofer Token Minority, both a woman and Black, in charge of probably mostly men in a stereotypically male profession. Right there, you know she's a badass because she must be so good at her job, that even any discrimination which might have been in her way due to either her femininity or her minority status was bulldozed flat in two-point-five seconds by her incredible competency.

Because the Black Boss Lady is good, or she wouldn't be where she is today. She's not afraid to take some risk if there is a decent chance of a worthwhile pay off. She presides over her organization with an iron fist, but she's also a Reasonable Authority Figure, and will give the Cowboy Cop (or lawyer, or reporter, etc.) credit were it's due. At first she might seem like a hardass by-the- book type but inevitably they get used to each other, she reveals hidden depths, and the two give each other room to work and come to appreciate the other's strength.

When it comes to drama, her blackness is hardly ever mentioned, her femaleness being the main source of plot. This being so she won't have much of an Urban Accent or have many tropes stereotypically associated with blackness. She almost never slips into Sassy Black Woman, for instance. She's also usually very well-dressed, in a business skirt-suit or slacks (nothing even remotely risque), and it's not uncommon for her clothes to be somewhat masculine. Often she has managed to have her cake and eat it too (mostly) in that she has both a shining career and a family.

One could reasonably consider the Black Boss Lady to be the spear-counterpart to the Bald Black Leader Guy, though the main things they have in common are being black and being leaders (though there's nothing in the trope that excludes her from being bald). Is also a subtrope of Da Chief, most of the time, though this trope isn't restricted to situations were she actually is Da Cheif, she just needs to be the boss of whatever organization she's running.

Examples:

Comic Books

Film
  • Appears in the Paul Verhoeven Starship Troopers film. Sky Marshal Dienes, a middle aged white male, is replaced by Sky Marshal Tahat Meru, a Hawaiian. Her attitude and general demeanour speaks to this trope.

Live-Action TV
  • Molly Hightower, the second boss the fictional CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) receives in The Mentalist.
  • Colleen Manus, Regional Director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida's state police, in The Glades.
  • Lt. Tanya Rice, head of Dwight's Memphis city police squad in Memphis Beat.
  • Jessica Pearson, Harvey's boss and founder of the law firm in Suits.
  • Lieutenant Van Buren, for many years Da Chief in Law and Order.
  • Lieutnant Laguerta in Dexter also fits the trope in everything except actually being African-American (she's a Latina). In fact, now I think of it at one point in the series Laguerta was demoted in favour of a black female officer who proved unable to handle the job because of difficulties in her love life, which is something of a subversion.
  • Da Chief from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (live-action)
  • Also in Detroit 1-8-7. This seems also to be common in situations involving social workers.
  • Helen from Drake & Josh.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • July 8, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the comic book version of Wanted Wesley's emasculating boss is a black woman. (Haven't seen the movie so I can't say whether that's the case there too.)
  • July 8, 2011
    wuggles
    Also in Detroit 187. This seems also to be common in situations involving social workers.
  • July 8, 2011
    astonesthrowaway
    Helen from Drake and Josh
  • July 8, 2011
    Allronix
  • July 8, 2011
    wanderlustwarrior
    Amanda Waller, in DC Comics' Cadmus, Suicide Squad, and related organizations.
  • July 9, 2011
    captainbrass2
    Lieutenant Van Buren, for many years Da Chief in Law and Order.

    Lieutnant Laguerta in Dexter also fits the trope in everything except actually being African-American (she's a Latina). In fact, now I think of it at one point in the series Laguerta was demoted in favour of a black female officer who proved unable to handle the job because of difficulties in her love life, which is something of a subversion.
  • July 9, 2011
    Koveras
    Waller also appears in Justice League Unlimited, as head of a massive Government Conspiracy or ten.
  • July 9, 2011
    MikeArrow
    Appears in the Paul Verhoeven Starship Troopers film. Sky Marshal Dienes, a middle aged white male, is replaced by Sky Marshal Tahat Meru, a Hawaiian. Her attitude and general demeanour speaks to this trope.
  • July 9, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^^ I would say that another TwoferTokenMinority would probably count, so long as they are female and follow the rest of the trope. Tropes Are Flexible after all. Black is just by far and away the most common minority ethnicity for them to be. Hispanic is probably second on that list, though.
  • July 11, 2011
    halfmillennium
    Many black women are not African-American. This either needs a better description (to remove the suggestion that she has to be) or a better title (to clarify that it's only for African-American women).
  • July 11, 2011
    captainpat
    Don't add character who aren't black to a trope titled Black Boss Lady. Now if this type of character extends to other characters of racial or ethnic background then there are issues with this trope.

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