Honoring our way. Honoring our humanity.
I am a licensed psychologist, consultant, curator of spaces, and DEI practitioner. The training I have as a psychologist has given me a very unique lens when approaching the work I do; namely leading as a Black woman.
In my role at Stanford, I am the lead clinician and strategist for my team. As the owner of my own business, I provide a variety of services for Black women, organizations, and corporations dedicated to empowering women to be the highest version of themselves and lending my expertise for organizations to provide curated spaces along with consultation about how to make the workplace more inclusive and equitable for the Black folks they bring into their environments; oftentimes without intentionality about how to make the workplace psychologically safe for Black women to show up as their authentic selves so as to pursue their higher selves.
I thoroughly enjoy empowering Black women to be the highest version of themselves. In doing this work, I am keenly aware of just how many psychological barriers and anti-black systems are in place that serves as invisible forces standing in their way of being their best selves.
It is not surprising to me that many of the women that I provide services to are often Black women in leadership. In many roles, I have had the privilege to hold space for Black women leaders too. In my professional journey, I’ve found that there are a number of challenges Black women leading face in leadership, but four common challenges are: over extending, over compensating, over burdening, and over participating in white dominant values and culture.
I’ve talked about how Black women are socialized with a myriad of different messages from a myriad of different sources. And when we internalize these messages, for better or worse, they permeate how we show up in every area of our lives; personally, romantically, sexually, and professionally.
There are many messages to unlearn as these messages stand in the way of being our full selves pursuing well-being, liberation, and pleasure.
I want to focus on us unlearning the way we show up professionally.
4 common challenges that stand in the way of us leading in a way that honors our authentic selves, as well as our humanity are:
Over extending ourselves. We are magical but we have limitations. When we do not acknowledge those limitations, we end up giving to others at the expense of ourselves and our own psychological well-being.
Over compensating. Because of the many negative stereotypes we work so hard to negotiate and work against confirmation bias, we are often doing more to show our value and our worth. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Black women say that they cannot make mistakes and have to work twice as hard as their non black peers. This my dearest friends is called over compensation and we do it in response to an insecurity that is being exposed due to the roles we hold.
Over burdening ourselves. Much of what we face as Black women in the workplace is falling victim to carrying and managing the emotional labor of others that do not belong to us. Emotional labor can manifest in a variety of ways; via managing white fragility, sexism, heterosexism, etc. The list is quite extensive.
Over participating in white dominant norms. This is the invisible forces that we can’t see but can feel and are pressured into participating in. It looks like debating on whether braids are “professional enough”, code switching, laughing at jokes that aren’t funny.
Resist. This is dehumanizing and we deserve so much more than dehumanization.
We can’t overcome what we do not face and we cannot face what we do not name. So I want to start by naming these four common challenges I see Black women, namely in leadership, face. If there is one thing 2020 has taught us it is that the normal we knew is no more. Now is the perfect time for Black women leaders to walk in a new normal; one that honors our unique way and our humanity.