There’s nothing more satisfying than to hear the truth – especially after a long silence. When Maxine Waters said to Bill O’Reilly, “I am a strong, Black woman and I cannot be intimidated,” we all exhaled. We exhaled because she broke the silence.
Not speaking our truth, and not having the truth of who we are reflected in our environment is finally less acceptable. I believe the rise of the “Unapologetic Black Woman” is at hand. For decades, I have impatiently awaited her arrival. I have watched us on the home-front and in the workplace twisting, bending, shrinking and in some cases exploding, to accommodate the rigors of ‘making it’ in a patriarchal, white supremacist, misogynist culture that has a special and troubling history with Black women.
I hear workplace horror stories of harassment, white male incompetence, and gross pay inequities. Single women are called upon to achieve the impossible, then chastised for their strength; and rules, even laws, are created that dictate how we can wear our hair and move our heads, necks, and bodies.
We bought into the myth that, “As long as I keep my head down and my mouth shut, I’ll be fine.” But we have not been fine. For too long, we have cocooned in our separate corners not being alright, being strong and silent, not revealing our frustration – because to open that would unleash a flow of emotion that we have feared could not be contained.
But something shifted. And it wasn’t #45. Work and life for Black women has been much the same, no matter who is in the Oval – because institutional racism and sexism have been the order of the day since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. If I had to pinpoint the beginning of this emerging shift, it would be June 27, 2015, when a smiling Bree Newsome climbed that flagpole in South Carolina and removed the Confederate flag declaring “Whom shall I fear!”
The cold silence that used to follow racist, verbal attacks is broken. Serena Williams clapped back with Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” after racist remarks from Llie Natase. When ten-year old Kerris Rogers was bullied at school about her dark skin, her answer was #FlexinInMyComplexion – which went viral on twitter, and is featured in her new t-shirt line to embrace her pride.
We are ready to release the fear. Since 2015, there has been a more than 300% increase in the number of Black women entrepreneurs — as we exit corporate structures to take control of our lives. As creatives, we are finding ways to succeed independently in industries that had cut us out of the equation. Look at Ava DuVernay, Director and Distributor of indie films; Kathy Hughes, Founder of TV One; Kimberly Bryant, of Black Girls Code; and so many others.
But not every Black woman can be a Madam C.J. Walker or O. The truth is, the entrepreneurial life is not for everyone. Though it may hold many perks of financial independence and control of our time, it does not completely protect us from the backlash of racism and sexism.
And on the personal front, race and sex play an intriguing role, as Black women have become marginalized as undesirable and boxed into a stereotype, reinforced by limited media images and false narratives. So how can we be free, happy and achieve our vision of success, in spite of all the madness?
The mission of EveTalks is to explore that question and create a space to speak the truth of our experiences in work, love and life, with “no-holds-barred.” It’s time for Eve to talk. The answers are in her wisdom. Let the testimony begin…..