By: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo
In January, I had the pleasure of attending the historic Women’s March in Washington, DC. It was such an epic experience for me, and I am still amazed by all the women coming together to march for so many different causes. All of those diverse causes led to one place, though: equality.
When I started The Memo nearly two years ago, equality for women of color in the workplace wasn’t top of mind for many. The topic of equality for women seemed to be very one-size fits all. For example, the often quoted statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a white male makes, while concerning, didn't tell the complete story. Many women of color make much less, with black women making 63% of what a white male makes. It is important to advance all women, while not forgetting that women of color face their own unique set of challenges in the workplace.
When it comes to advancing women of color in the workplace, where do you fall? Are you Informed? Uninformed? Or simply Unconcerned?
Let’s break it down…
By “informed”, I mean girl, you are so in formation that Beyonce and Solange conference called you to help them get more in formation.
You understand that advancing women and women of color in the workplace takes work, and you are a voice for others as well as a creator of more seats at the table. We applaud you for your work and your willingness to bridge the gap. Frankly, it takes a village, and if true equality is ever to be obtained, we need women of all colors being resources and advocates for each other in a society that oftentimes thinks of us as an afterthought.
You've heard of formation, but you think it’s something cheerleaders do at Friday night Football games.
You can sense that inequality exists, and maybe it worries you, but you don't know enough to do anything about it. Or you haven't seen it directly affect anyone you know. I applaud you too, because you are trying. I believe that the uninformed want to be helpful, but they are not yet doing the work. If your sister circle is not diverse, you can’t very well speak on behalf of those who don’t have a seat at your table. Take some time to diversify your circle. Also take time to read and gain some perspectives on the everyday struggle of black women -- bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Angela Davis are good places to start. Continue to expand your worldview, and find out why #blackgirlmagic is not just a hashtag. You have to do the work!
You may have heard the good word of formation. You may not have. Either way, you do not care or do not want to be bothered, because it’s not your problem.*
This final group has no interest in knowing about the disparities for women and women of color in the workplace. Or worse, they know, but simply do not care. I applaud this group as well, because they keep it 100% real. They are out for themselves, and these people can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and colors. You know exactly where they stand on women’s issues. They are the reason we must unite and be as informed as possible. We need seats at the table that represent unity and equality for all women. If the informed and uninformed do their parts, hopefully our good work can overshadow the unconcerned.
In honor of this Women’s History Month, we must become even more vigilant in advancing other women. For example, consider buying a book written by a woman of color, supporting a business owned by a woman of color, or becoming more informed about the wonderful achievements by women and women of color in history. There are many things we can all do to advance women, and women of color specifically. What will you do?
Attending the Women’s March this year is something I will not soon forget. The road to equality for all women is a long one, but it will be worth it.