The picture attached to this post was taken of me 4 years ago. It's the most professional work picture I've ever taken. I remember standing in line waiting my turn and feeling foolish the whole time. I felt like a fraud. Like I didn't belong and like I wasn't good enough. I put on my "best" smile and yet flashes of my future danced in my head. I didn't know how long I'd be working for that company. I didn't have any immediate plans to leave but there was something about the environment that made me feel like my days there were numbered. That last day came about a year later. I never fit in there. I am educated, outgoing, compassionate, hard working and dilligent yet I knew that as a black woman, that wasn't enough. I was for a time the only black woman in my branch and one of 3 in the whole division of about 1000. THREE!! And yet, I felt Affirmative Action wasn't going to save me. And it didn't.
I knew I was much more qualified for the position I had. I knew that I had education and work experience that should have had me making much more money. But there I was, working in an environment that wouldn't have me reaching my full potential. When I went to the head of sales and inquired about leaving the field and working inside sales he told me I'd have to start from the bottom. Entry level!! HAHA!! I stayed on until I was let go, but unbeknowst to them I had planned to leave as I was starting a new job the following week. Things didn't get much better but I didn't really care because I had realized by that point that there was nothing I could do. Well, rather nothing I felt capable of doing.
I suppose I could have given 150% instead of 100%. I suppose I could have gone into further debt with additional student loans to continue my education. Theres a lot I could have done. But then I thought, why is it that I have to do so much more just to get on an even keel with my white male counterparts? Or even with my white female counterparts? Why is it that 22 year olds were given a higher starting salary than me? Why should I have to bleed to death to get any semblance of recognition from people who already felt I wasn't good enough without even having a real conversation with me? Because as a black woman, you're challenged like no other.
Yes, being a black woman also means you've won the lottery. But it's like winning a 100 bucks out of the 450 million dollar powerball jackpot. You're happy as hell to win it. You're glad you didn't just win 2 bucks or even a free ticket. But you will never really reach the pinnacle of success that the lottery promises. As a black woman you will always be less than. Don't believe me? Look at Michelle Obama. A classy, highly educated woman who fights for the the health of American children and rights of all people. She's been called a Gorilla, a liar, a food nazi and so many underlying racial epithets that I can only laugh and think if she's not appreciated and respected by some, what chance do I have?
Don't get me wrong, the path towards equality and greatness for black woman has gotten a lot less rocky thanks to those who've paved the way. However, little instances of racism mixed with sexism have gone a long way in holding many of us back. Do you think it's a coincidence that President elect Trump hasn't picked one black woman for office or his cabinet? Do you think it's a coincidence that when you walk into retail outlets you rarely see a black woman running the store? Do you think it's a coincidence that if there are black women working in your corporate office or branch theres only one or two if you're lucky? I mean I've been to many talk shows and the only show that had a mix of all types of races and women working behind the scenes was Wendy Williams. The only minorities I saw on the other shows including The View, The Chew, Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray were the ones working security. Although the view did have a black male stage manager. My point is that as much as it may seem that advances have been made, take a look at your daily interactions and ask yourself is that true. What are the advances? Make a mental note of the people you interact with and the positions they hold. Look at your friendships. Your childrens friendships and interactions. It's starts with us....