“I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated, and I’m not going anywhere.”
These powerful words from Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ resounded across the television airwaves and Internet last night, as she responded to Bill O’Reilly’s insulting and insensitive comments about her appearance during a FOX News segment.
In another isolated incident, White House press secretary Sean Spicer demanded that reporter April Ryan “stop shaking her head” during yesterday’s press briefing, as she respectfully disagreed with an answer he gave. Not only did this take place in front of her fellow journalists, but in front of millions of viewers who were watching across the globe.
Unfortunately, these instances are not the first (and won’t certainly be the last) of white men blatantly disrespecting and devaluing the thoughts, words, actions, and authority of Black women within the workplace.
The conversation about the mistreatment of Black women in professional environments was elevated on Twitter by the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork, created by activist Brittany Packnett and has set the Internet ablaze. From unwarranted comments on their hair to feeling to being told that their confidence and assertiveness is “too aggressive,” many Black women continue to share their experiences facing racism and adversity within the workplace.
This happens to black women everyday at work.
Share your Maxine and April moments, so people don’t think this is rare. Use #BlackWomenAtWork
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) March 28, 2017
Members of Her Agenda’s exclusive community, #theAgenda, who are at various stages of their careers shared their thoughts on the topic, and provided their insight on why this must be addressed once and for all.
To have share your thoughts with the community and to gain access to exclusive Her Agenda content, visit www.theagenda-heragenda.com to join #theAgenda today!
Angelina Darrisaw (New York City)
“There was that time a colleague couldn’t believe that I was raised vegetarian and really had never eaten fried chicken. Then there was that time a coworker caught me off guard by grabbing a handful of my hair in the bathroom because she said it looked so cool. Perhaps the most annoying were suggestions that I and the “other” Black person in the office should date or were already dating, simply because we spoke to each other and well… we were both Black.”
Myrvancia Estimable, (New Jersey)
“Being a Black woman in the workplace is hard and very draining at times. You’re expected to fail and succeeding is viewed as a shocker. Your ideas get taken but you’re still not valued as an equal. You get silenced a lot and speaking up runs the risk of termination. Sometimes it seems easier to just be seen and not heard. Other times it’s hard knowing you’re not being treated fairly. Most of the time your insides are just chipping away. I know not everyone in work places have participated in making Black women feel like they’re not equal or valued, but there are many that do. Everything about you is questioned from the strands of your hair to your intelligence. Black women have a lot to bring to the table but we get swept under the rug too often. This proves there’s a lot of work to be done. Knowing that I’m not alone in this fight helps.”
Lauren Bealore (Detroit, Michigan)
“As someone who works in politics, I have found the lack of unified support from all types of women for Maxine Waters very interesting. Here are thoughts that were shared from a fellow woman I have worked with that currently works in the Michigan legislature: ‘You know what’s most disappointing about Progressives women? Only a certain type of woman is worth defending.’ Maxine Waters from the start of the Trump administration has been on the forefront of naming names and resisting, yet there’s no hashtag, nor is my timeline filled with the “pink hat crew” talking about #shepersisted. It has been interesting to watch Elizabeth Warren heralded as a voice for the women’s movement and Maxine Waters looked at as “a Black woman problem.”
Erica Dias (Atlanta, Georgia)
“Being a black woman in the workplace was hard for me because I was more experienced than some of my older peers. It was as if they wanted me to fail and when I would succeed they frowned. After dealing with racial profiling, ideas being taken, and not being respected, I left. I remember a woman who was my boss even telling me she could “black ball” me. I was sad because she was also a Black woman. But the way my God is set up, those words never saw the light. I stepped out on faith and created The B Firm PR and am an author of Faith It Until You Make It. I’ve been blessed and working hard everyday since walking away.”