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"I am fat, black, cranky and menopausal. You do NOT want to mess with me!"
Amanda Waller to a penitentiary's worth of supervillains

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-alec subordinate she has better watch out, because she ain'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 Distaff Counterpart to the Bald Black Leader Guy, though the main things they have in common are being black and being leaders (though there's technically nothing in the trope that excludes her from being bald too). Is also a subtrope of Da Chief, most of the time, though this trope isn't restricted to situations were she actually is Da Chief, she just needs to be the boss of whatever organization she's running.

Examples of Black Boss Lady include:


Comic Books

  • Amanda Waller, in DC Comics' Cadmus, Suicide Squad, and related organizations, is widely recognized as one of the few people who can make Batman think twice about messing with her. Heck, she's taken on Granny Goodness (right-hand woman to Darkseid) and walked away.
  • In the comic book version of Wanted Wesley's emasculating boss is a black woman.
  • Psiren, the leader of Psi-Cops from Marvel's Warlock.

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.
  • Knight and Day: Isabel George, the CIA's Director of Counter-Intelligence fits this trope as she is Da Chief, is impeccably dressed, and is a bit of a hardass. At the end of the movie, she explains to Miller (Tom Cruise), who is restrained in a hospital bed, that the agency will "transfer you to a secure facility tomorrow... for your safety". He stated earlier in the film that when agents say this to you it means that they plan to kill you.
  • In 1986, audiences applauded when the captain of the USS Saratoga was revealed to be a black woman (played by Madge Sinclair) in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Live Action TV

  • Madeleine 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). At the start of Season 2, however, she was once 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 and Josh.
  • Camille Saroyan from Bones
  • Roz from Raising the Bar, who is the cool, calm and collected head of the PD's office and serves as a contrast to Balco
  • Mrs. Frederick from Warehouse 13.
  • Victoria "Iron" Gates is The Umbridge in Castle after the death of Captain Montgomery. She's not as bad as she seems, though.
  • A lot of characters on ER answer to Dr. Angela Hicks.
  • Noah's Arc: Brandy.
  • Heylia James from Weeds definitely qualifies too.
  • Captain Claudette Wyms from The Shield.
  • There have been a number of black lady admirals and high-ranking officers on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Western Animation

  • Amanda Waller (again) in the Justice League and Young Justice cartoons, as head of Cadmus and Warden of Belle Reve penitentiary respectively.
  • The Principal in Sitdown,shutup.
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