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Angry Black Man

"You know what the most dangerous thing in America is, don't you Lamar? A nigger with a library card."
Brother Mouzone, The Wire

A stock character and stereotype popular in the 1970s - 1980s. A male black youth, the Angry Black Man knows that The Man is out to get him, and that the Revolution will soon come and whitey will have his back against the wall. The Angry Black Man sees injustice everywhere and is capable and intelligent but usually financially destitute because the damn Honkies won't hire him to give him an opportunity.

Liberal white people will attempt to befriend him, but he will have none of it, seeing even being friends with white people as a betrayal to his race.

Mostly a Dead Horse Trope as society has marched on. Compare Malcolm Xerox. See also Scary Black Man.

Oh, and despite the name, this trope is not about characters who are black and have a Hair-Trigger Temper.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • This was the personality of Spider-Man character The Prowler, as well as Robbie Robertson's activist son.
  • The Marvel Universe's Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man, the superpowered version.
    • However the new Power Man, Afro-Dominican teen Victor Alvarez is this example straight. It'd take forever to list the things he is angry about.
  • In the 1990s, Marvel introduced Rage, a superhero from the slums whose first appearance in The Avengers included him getting up in Captain America's face about why the Avengers (at the time) had no African-American members.
  • Lucius Fox's son, Tim, was portrayed this way in 1980s Batman comics.
  • Tyroc in the Legion of Super-Heroes, even though it takes place in the year 3000.
    • Notably, the writers and artists were all painfully aware of how this trope was being played in a setting where racism should've been eliminated, but were forced to portray Tyroc as such due to the Executive Meddling. When Paul Levitz brought Tyroc back in the late 2000s, he received some Character Development beyond his initial portrayal.
  • Huey from The Boondocks dips into this territory, but is balanced out by also being a Snark Knight.
  • In The DCU, Green Lantern John Stewart was originally this kind of character, which meant he had to prove himself to Green Lantern Hal Jordan that he was a worthy recruit to the Corps.. While John eventually mellowed for the most part, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini decided the early take on John would make for the most dramatically interesting Green Lantern for The DCAU version of Justice League.
  • An early Teen Titans issue featured a teenage hero called Jericho (who is ANGRY BLACK! Robin) in a racial-issues themed issue. The Executives didn't want controversy so they prevented the story from being published, but many of Jericho's characteristics were latter reused in Cyborg, and his name was recycled as Deathstroke's son.
  • Hardware very much so. The trope name is actually the title of his first story. Justified by the fact that he is constantly being directly and intentionally oppressed by a physical incarnation of The Man, his arch-nemesis and surrogate father Edwin Alva. The conflict is never explicitly made racial, however.
    • It's worth noting that Hardware's creator, Dwayne McDuffie, is a black liberal who knows what he's talking about, not a white liberal trying and failing to be ~socially conscious~. If anything, the character is a deliberate exploration of the trope, not a straight example.
  • The Falcon was this when he was younger.
  • Charcoal of the Thunderbolts did not start out like this, but evolved in this direction. Kurt Busiek gave him a Child Soldier and Super Soldier background, but otherwise Charlie Burlingame was still a kid who attempted to acquire a semblance of a normal life and make some friends at school. Fabian Nicieza first had Charlie witness the assassination of his best friend, then revealed that under the calm facade Charcoal harbored a lot of anger and resentment at the world. Under Nicieza, Charcoal became angrier, progressively anti-social, and started seeing "racists" everywhere around him. Not only did he have trouble associating himself with his non-superpowered friends, but started demonstrating a sadistic streak. Such as enjoying the smell of his opponents' burning flesh.

    Films 
  • Subverted in The White Man's Burden. Set in an alternate America where blacks are on the higher end of the social ladder, John Travolta's character is an angry white man.
  • Jenny's Black Panther acquaintances in Forrest Gump, to the latter.
  • Sergio in Get Him to the Greek. He's a likeable character. He gives Aaron a break—and Aldous Snow ends up abandoning him when Aaron sets up his own record company.
  • Samuel L. Jackson is a borderline example, most of the time: he is usually angry, but race is only occasionally a motivator. Often, he's just really had it with those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane.
  • One character in Bobby. He chills out around the end. And then Bobby gets shot, and he gets angry again. It's sad.
  • Subverted in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, as with just about every other race trope. The duo's car breaks down in a black neighborhood, and they run off when a bunch of big guys start converging on their car. It ends up they were just going to help fix the car.
  • Subverted in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle. Harold's cell mate is a black guy reading a book on civil disobedience who calmly reveals he was arrested because he was black. He then says that he's overweight, black, and has two gay dads, so he's pretty much immune to whatever crap people throw his way. When the police return and get him up against the wall of the cell, he calmly accepts it.
  • Parodied in Chasing Amy. Hooper pretends to be one of these in order to sell a comic book about a black power superhero, but he's actually a Flamboyant Gay. He's a sympathetic character, however, who laments at having to sell out.
  • Parodied in The Big Lebowski, with the short-tempered African-American cab driver who is passionate about The Eagles.
  • Shaft! Damn right.
  • Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song: Sweet Sweetback (a '70s name if ever there was one).
  • Parodied in Undercover Brother with Conspiracy Brother - a very angry, very ill-informed radical.
  • Frank in Ocean's Eleven acts like this as a part of the heist:
    Frank: You heard me. Just 'cause a black man tries to earn a decent wage in this state...
    Linus: That has nothing to do with...
    Frank: ... some cracker cowboy like you's gotta kick him out on the street. Want me to jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton, won't let me deal cards, might as well call it whitejack.
  • Played straight and subverted with Marcus in Airheads. Throughout the movie, he accuses Rex and Milo of having racist motivations, but has no idea why they start chanting "Rodney King".
  • Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood parodies this character complete with African robes and long winded speeches to the others about how their behavior is just playing into "the man's" oppression of them. He excuses his own hypocrisy in exclusively dating white women by saying he's "sticking it to the white man, by sticking it to the white woman."
  • Parodied with Conan O'Brien graphic artist Pierre Bernard and his "Recliner of Rage" bits, where he rants in an emotionless sounding monotone about something trivial that's bothering him, such as collecting old Robotech releases on VHS.
  • One could say that there are a few in Do the Right Thing (particularly Buggin Out), but the trope is somewhat inverted when one black man tells another whom is spouting ABM language that he "doesn't want to hear that horseshit." In the commentary track for the DVD release, Spike Lee specifically notes, when Buggin Out begins ranting about the pictures in the Pizzeria, that he disagrees with the character, saying that it's Sal's place, so it's his right to put whatever pictures he likes on the walls.
  • Morgan Freeman's Hot-Blooded school principal in Lean on Me.
  • Falling Down has an angry black man shouting on a street corner about how he was laid off because he was "not economically viable." His anger has a deep impact on the main character.

    Literature 
  • Invoked in the Destroyer novels. Master Chiun, the Wise Old Mentor, is an incredible racist (having been raised in the 19th century) of the Korean stripe, so he sees all races as specific insulting tropes. Blacks, in his viewpoint, are "always angry." (Which is better than his opinions of Japanese, or Russians, or Americans, or Chinese, or ... damn well everyone who had the bad taste to not be Korean, really).
  • Deconstructed in Richard Morgan's Black Man novel (which was, interestingly enough, titled Th1rt33n in the US)
  • Bigger Thomas of Native Son is a dumbed-down version. Besides the intelligence part, he fits the trope like a glove. It should also be noted that Richard Wright, the author of Native Son, is a famous black author.
  • The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1969) is about a guy who, hired by the CIA as their token black agent, boils over at the discrimination he sees and uses his CIA skills to start an all-out race war.
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison has Guitar, a member of the group "Seven Days" dedicated to killing white people in revenge for black deaths. He is not depicted as very intelligent.
  • In the Firestar Series, Azim Thomas and gang-banging company. A first-rate education helmed by an African teacher helps his case, though his best friend Zipper does his level best to snap him out of the Race Traitor route he's taking. "Do his level best" here means "make Azim part of a robbery/murder against his will". The kid's a sociopath.

    Live-Action TV 
  • George Jefferson when he was still on All in the Family.
  • Used beautifully in the UK comedy show Balls of Steel with the character of "Militant black guy" see here: Other Wiki
  • Played straight and subverted in Angel with Gunn. While Gunn can have his angry moments there is a fantastic scene when he helps Angel break into Wolfram and Hart:
    Gunn: "Whoo-whoo! My god! They told me it was true, but I didn't believe them. Damn, here it is! Evil white folks really do have a Mecca. (Holds up a hand to the security guards stepping out from behind their desk) [...] OW! Did you just step on my foot? (The nearest guard is still at least 8 feet away from him) Is that my foot you just stepped on? Are you assaulting me - up in this haven of justice?" "Somebody get me a lawyer - because my civil rights have seriously been violated. - Oh, I get it, I get it. You all can cater to the demon, cater to the dead man, but what about the black man?"
    • Gets turned up to eleven in "Spin the Bottle". Teen!Gunn was REALLY militant.
    • Made rather funny though when you consider what ultimately happened to Gunn.
  • Chris Rock's "Nat X" character from Saturday Night Live.
    "I think we all know who the man is. I'm talking about the same man who calls all his bad children the black sheep."
  • Parodied in the Scrubs episode "My Roommates":
    J.D.: Come on, you two are interracial best buddies. I, too, have a black best friend. Go out, enjoy it! Celebrate your uniqueness! I can do it!
    Ron: I'm sorry. Did you just call me black? Because the last time I checked, the correct term was "African-American."
    J.D.: Well, Turk lets me call him Brown Bear.
    Ron: Who the hell is Turk?!
    J.D.: I should go. (leaves)
    Dr. Cox: Angry black man. It never disappoints.
    Ron: I pull it out when I need to.
  • Oz. Kareem Said, leader of the Muslim prisoners, is a more updated version of this trope. His is an angry black man, but his anger is more a controlled burn than an explosive rage. Plus, he also accepts Beecher (who is white) as a friend, or at least an ally.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Sons of Anarchy. Tig and Clay are planning on framing a black gang, the One-Niners for a murder they plan to commit.
    Tig: Blame it on the angry black man.
    Clay: It's the American way.
  • Sgt James Doakes from Dexter.*
  • Sgt Greer on Stargate Universe appears to be setup as a military version of this. The subvert the hell out of that expectation to the point where he's one of the strongest, most capable, fair but strong willed members of the entire team.
  • Dunn Purnsley from Boardwalk Empire.
  • Kenan's dad on Kenan & Kel can qualify. Justified in the fact that he's irritated by the title characters' shenanigans.
  • One Blue Heelers episode focused on a female version, justified as she is introduced being harassed by a sexist racist and Tom took her from her family as part of the Australian government Indiginous relocation program, the Stolen Generation, some twenty five years before.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had this as Uncle Phil's backstory. In his youth he was a radical civil rights activist before he made good. He can still pull it out when he has to, or is pushed to far by some injustice.
  • Wanda Sykes as herself plays a female version in Curb Your Enthusiasm. She constantly interprets everything that Larry does as racist and yells at him about it.
  • Dexter in The John Larroquette Show, who combines it with hefty doses of Everything Is Racist.

    Music 
  • Parodied in 1974 by Flo & Eddie on "Livin In The Jungle":
    Death to Whitey, po' white trash
    Kick his ass, smoke his hash
    Ball his woman, ball his son
    Death to whitey...right on!
  • NWA: Niggaz Wit Attitude. The music even reflects this trope.

    New Media 

    Video Games 

    Web Originals 
  • Chaka's brother Vince Chandler, in the Whateley Universe. Even though the Chandler are upper-middle class in the nice suburbs of Baltimore.
  • Troy McCann from Survival of the Fittest tends to drop into this from time to time. Notably, he intentionally made himself out this way in order to be more like the rap stars he idolizes.
    • Bryant Carver of Spin-Off The Program also fits. It's actually pretty justified; the setting he's in is based entirely off of Deliberate Values Dissonance, which is basically a good example of Eagle Land type 2 with fairly extreme nationalist/xenophobic tendencies. So naturally he tends to distrust white people.
  • The Axis of Anarchy member Bruiser in The Guild. May be a parody because he seems less to be angry about racial issues than about, well, everything.
  • Tumblr's social justice bloggers frequently come across as this.
  • Thundercloud, a Kid Hero active in the 1970s from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe started out as an Angry Native American. By the time he's grown up and changed his name to Thunderstorm, his anger is less about racial injustice and more about just being really angry about pretty much everything.
  • The Hatta from Neurotically Yours, an angry black squirrel, is a parody of this trope. He's commonly held to be the most offensive character on the show.
  • Like the Oz example, Tacoma from Demo Reel is a slow-burning version. He eventually accepts being white-face because "you crackers had it coming", and tries his best to subvert the awful of Transformers when Donnie tells him to spoof it. But he's a Nice Guy too, and opens up to both Donnie and Rebecca when they prove they're good people.
  • King Caesar in Monster Island Buddies is a mostly likable and affable fellow. Should you get on his bad side, however... Gabara learned it the hard way.

    Western Animation 
  • During the controversy surrounding the town flag in South Park, Chef became a mix of this and Malcolm Xerox.
  • All three of the main characters on The Boondocks, Huey, Riley, and Grand-dad are all angry black males, albeit for differing reasons.
  • Parodied in Batman: The Brave and the Bold in "Inside the Outsiders": Black Lightning, the Outsiders' resident ball o' rage, isn't angry at the world—he's merely very easily annoyed. "Sprinkles—on coffee? What are you, six?!"
  • On Family Guy, Peter (who has swallowed a cellphone) gets a call from Quagmire, bragging about how he had sex with a black woman. Everyone can hear, so Peter ends the conversation when a black couple walks by (a little surprised, but not upset or anything). Peter explains that he didn't want to offend them, in case the man was one of those angry black men. He wasn't, until Peter started with the whole Pretty Fly for a White Guy thing, thus offending him.
    • Recurring character newscaster Ollie Williams. Though at times it's hard to tell if he's angry, or just has No Indoor Voice.
  • Code Monkeys has Black Steve, a ludicrously over-the-top parody of this trope, who is literally angry all the time - at white people, at his colleagues, and at inanimate objects.
    • This trope is also balanced by giving Black Steve the most Hidden Depths out of all the other characters, usually just to play it for comedy against his stereotypical personality.
  • Spoofed in the opening for the American Dad! episode "Black Mystery Month", where a white speaker delivers an over-the-top rant, claiming that none of the students has even seen a real black person (followed by the white and black students looking at one another in confusion) and claiming that Beethoven was black.
  • Sideshow Raheem, afro'd former assistant of Krusty the Klown in The Simpsons. Described by Krusty as an "angry, angry young man".
  • Transcended metaphorically in early episodes of Futurama which let Bender the robot speak up on behalf of the oppressed robot class. His dissatisfaction with life on Earth sometimes mirrored real life criticisms made by black nationalists, notably in the episode "Fear of a Bot Planet," the episode title itself an allusion to a seminal Public Enemy album.
    Bender (at a Blernsball game): You humans are afraid of a little robot competition. You would never let a robot on the field.
    Fry: What are you talking about? I see plenty of robots out there.
    Bender: Yeah, doing crap work. Bat boys, ball polishers, and sprinkler systems. But how many robot managers are there?
    Fry: Eleven?
    Bender: Zero! (throws a bottle to the ground, and a young robot comes to clean it up) But look who's scraping up the filth. Is it a human child? I wish!


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