Updated: Jun 15, 2019
Have you ever seen a beer advertisement showing a group
of black women chilling while swigging a brew? Toni Childs was all up in those Bailey's Irish Cream commercials for a minute and you may have caught a few of us drinking a wine cooler by the pool or some obscure but pretty beverage in the background of a print ad or commercial but for the most part you will only see white males (most likely with long beards) drinking beer because that is the target audience of breweries and has been for years.
Gender and racial stereotyping in mainstream media is nothing new but it is interesting in the context of beer culture. For black women, our media portrait has generally fallen into one of these categories: angry black girl, ratchet black girl, or bourgeois/Barbie black girl and a few more that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. None of those categories would vibe well with the laid back, fun loving persona of the beer drinker typically portrayed in commercial media. The only problem is black women actually can be laid back and fun loving. Mind blowing. I know. Unfortunately, representations in the media influence perceptions and are most of the time taken as truth. I think the emerging diversification of the craft beer world can change that. Hear me out.
Aside from the fact that I actually love the taste of beer, I enjoy drinking it because in doing so I have an opportunity to redefine black women to a group of people that we often don’t have a chance to really sit and talk to, the bearded white men that are dominating the brew scene. I have met a lot of good people and opened a lot of minds. I have also met a few people who weren’t so great and stayed incredibly closed minded but that’s a whole other blog post.
Maybe you think I’m taking the power of craft beer a bit too far in giving it the possible ability to affect race and gender perceptions. I do understand that it didn’t help to ease tensions at the “Beer-Summit” back in 2009 during the Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy. Maybe this is because President Obama chose to drink a Bud Lite during the meeting. Everyone makes mistakes, let’s not judge too harshly folks. All jokes aside, I do think that the amount of time it takes to drink 2 or 3 beers and the sudden camaraderie that emerges between two strangers from all walks of life when exploring new craft beer flavor profiles provides an ideal time to start race and gender discussion.
The only problem is that I don’t always feel welcome to sit at the bar. As a black woman, when I sit down I am almost always offered a glass of wine from some skunk bottle behind the bar that has been open for 4 days or a Lambic or cider because surely I only like fruity flavored alcohol. I’m only taken seriously after I pull out all my craft beer terminology and announce that I’m working on my fifth plate at Flying Saucer. Let me clarify that I’m not looking for acceptance or validation, I simply want to eliminate the extremist nature of the existing black female stereotypes and show that we can be crazy, sexy AND cool and we deserve a seat at the bar in the craft beer world.
Now tip a little bit of your beer out for our girl Left Eye (because I know you’re singing a TLC song now after that crazy, sexy, cool line) and the next time you see a black woman drinking beer or better yet brewing her own beer, please treat her like she belongs because the craft brew world isn’t just a white male space.