The Fear of A Working Black Woman

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Recently the controversy over the last few days about the notable hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork has struck a debate of the subtle issues black women face everyday in the workplace. It stemmed from the viral video of Billy O’Reilly who chastised Congresswoman Maxine Waters by commenting “I didn’t hear a word she said. She has on a James Brown Wig”. The rude remark regarding her physical appearance left a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth, which had many thinking about how a black woman's apperance can be harshly criticized in the workplace.  Nevertheless,Waters fired back with the commment, “I cannot be intimated!," as a call to action for black women to voice their opinions on this current issue. If you haven't seen the video click the link below:

                                                                                                           

                         For many years, black women have been ostracized and isolated into specific categories based on character, looks and stereotypes. It is one thing to be a woman in America, but to be a BLACK WOMAN , its even harder because we are faced with gender and racial inequalities. We are more than likely to be paid less than white women, prone to office complaints for tasks we had no knowledge of, and subjected to act “white” in front of our white counterparts so we don’t get carded as the “Angry Black Woman”.

 My mother taught me at a young age that whenever you’re trying to get that CEO position or that officer position for the team, you have to play the game”. All of us know what it means ‘play the game’ right? But for those of us who don't, it means we speak and act a certain way with our white counterparts than we would with our homegirls. I’ve done it throughout high school and my mom would notice I would speak in my “Becky” voice with my white friends or drill team members then switch into my regular voice with my black friends. It’s very common and it’s natural for us to act this way so we don’t make them feel uncomfortable.

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                         Another great thing about #BlackWomenAtWork is that we watch it on our television screens every night. For example, the notable Mary Jane Paul from Being Mary Jane sets the tone of what it means to be a #BlackWomanAtWork. If you are a fan like I am, we have seen over the course of four seasons, Mary Jane had to fight on multiple occasions for her show to reflect herself. 'Talk Back' was her niche where she could speak on troubling issues within the African American community, but superiors have tried to downplay her platform by instructing her to discuss lighter issues and entertainment topics so she’s not talking about ‘all black issues.’ Even when she moved to New York for “Good Day USA”, the producers had Mary Jane competing with her coworker, Ronda for the anchor chair. Why does two successful black women in the same career field must fight for one spot or degrade each other to get to the top?! These subtle, but obvious issues are what common women face and it there must be an end to it.

                         This topic is important for all collegiates to understand as overcome obstacles in your careers. But, it is up to US to shed light on this controversial issue and to preserve our black women past adversity. We are more than our hair, skin tone, and assets, we are intelligent, important and powerful human beings that deserve a voice.

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