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Dear Black women

Updated: Mar 19

International Women’s month is one of my favourite months in the diversity calendar, as it makes space to champion, spotlight and celebrate amazing contributions of women around the world. However, International Women’s month isn’t complete if it doesn’t aim to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of Black women. Furthermore, for gender equity to be attained, it demands actionable commitment to ‘Invest in BLACK women and accelerate OUR change” and these are the actions that I perceive to be the antidote for change in this space.


1.     Shift from Allyship to Solidarity

Allyship is often used as a means for affecting positive change, on matters relating to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Initially it was a comforting ideology, allowing White women an opportunity to use their privilege to advocate on behalf of Black women, amplify our voices by showing support and working alongside us to address the systemic issues that hold Black women back and causes real harm on an individual, familiy and community level.

Allyship is a good place to start, but it doesn’t have the ability to shift the dial far enough and is why solidarity is a necessary shift for meaningful change to happen.


Solidarity is about unity, shared values, and humanity - getting in to the trenches with marginalised groups, shifting your mindset and aligning with what’s right and just. Allyship centres action around White privilege to affect positive and perpetuates the societal hierarchy. Solidarity is a stance, baked in integrity focused on achieving justice – by any means necessary. Martin Luther King said it best when he said, “There comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” The time is now, and solidarity is key.




2.     Pay Black women their worth £££ & Give them their Flowers

Black women are an asset to the companies they work for, taking on many workplace roles, with creativity, strategy, and collaboration as their superpower. Black women are natural leaders - creative, resourceful, and effortlessly contribute to an inclusive workplace culture. This can be both a blessing and a curse, often seeing Black women take on extra work, introduce evolutionary creative concepts and execute brilliantly impactful projects that drive change and contribute to increased equity – only for them to not get the credit that is due to them and most importantly the remuneration that should follow.


When Black women are rewarded for their contributions, they can care for their families and support their communities in ways they both aspire and deserve to do so. Organisations, institutions, and industries that do not see fit to remunerate Black women appropriately, are contributing to the continued oppression of Black women, and ultimately have blood on their hands. Nina Simone said it best when she said, “I wish you could know what it means to be me, then you’d see, you’d agree everybody should be free (because if we ain’t, we’re murderous)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq3sdF0YXkM

 

3.     Make Space for Authentic Black Female Voices

Black women are often expected to assimilate to White ideologies of beauty and professionalism, leading to a culture of ‘covering’ who we truly are in favour of the ‘assimilation’ of White cultural norms within the workplace. This is why we see the phenomenon of ‘Pet to Threat’ disproportionately impacting Black women in the corporate space – where Black women are welcomed into a company with open arms and treated like a new pet. However, as time goes on and they point out areas for challenge and change, they are seen as a threat, overlooked for promotions, made to feel unwelcome and pushed out.


Black women are universally seen as strong and resilient, due to all that they have overcome, yet we are expected to shrink our personalities, keep our opions and views to ourselves, and worse of all, ‘detatch from our lived experiences of being a Black woman’.

All of this to ‘fit in’ and not rock the boat of ‘White Fragility’. Expectations that are the killers of joy, authenticity and creativity.


The views and perspectives of Black women are invaluable, and organisations should aspire to having more than one Black woman to sprinkle your organisation with ‘Black Girl Magic’ – one Black woman sitting at the table is isolating, and tokenistic at its best. Sojourner Truth said it best when she said, ‘Aint I a Woman’ and Maya Angelou nailed it when she said, ‘Still I Rise’.


Dear Black women, whatever you’re going through in life, or where you are in your career, remember that you are enough, nobody can stand in your way except for you – don’t ever give up, the world needs you, and the unique talents you bring to the table.

Happy International Women’s Month!

 

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I really enjoyed reading this and full agree with everything written. From allyship to solidarity - time for people to put their money where their mouth is.

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