Many of you know about my experience at Stanford. If you don't, check out my Op-ed: Courted, Boo'd Up, and Gaslit by Stanford-My Racist and Toxic Relationship with the Ivy League.
My tenure as a leader was tough to say the least. But it wasn't just my plight that that was filled with obstacles, it was the journey of many Black staff at Stanford. Navigating what I refer to as the invisible forces and managing the impact of it was common place. It's one of the reasons I co-founded the Black Coalition at Stanford, the first advocacy group for Black staff. Shout out to original steering committee members, and all of the members of the Black Coalition reading this ;-) Y'all are a vibe!
What I loved about our general body meetings is that it was a safe space where you could just be as a Black staff: no demand to code switch, tone police, self-silence, center white discomfort, or turn down your cultural expression. In our space, there was permission to be. And unfortunately the invisible forces make us too often feel like we need permission to just be, unapologetically.
It was a space we flocked to when there was Black death on public display (and those instances were plentiful), nooses found on campus, or your everyday run in with white fragility and anti-Blackness. And, in our space, there was no need to "have to explain." Everyone just got it.
It was a space that gave Black staff the language, skills, tools, and community to give voice to and navigate their experiences. And after we mourned, we rejoiced. We celebrated. And we always had a time! Our monthly meetings became known for the virtual “versus” competitions and celebration of Black culture. In a sea of toxicity, I co-created a respite. It’s what I’ve always done. It what I’ll always do.
This month as I reflect on Black history and Black excellence, our plight as Black folks in general, and Black women specifically, I'm sitting with the reality that our healing and unlearning is locked up in community, and it's why I've created the spaces I've created for Black women leaders across industries through The Executive Leadership Development (ELD) Workshop.
This space is just as critical as our advocacy group is/was because of the reality that Black women are faced with a unique set of challenges on their leadership journeys. That is, managing the extra burden of “the invisible forces” which include but aren't limited to ongoing microaggressions, conscious and unconscious biases, an overwhelming amount of white fragility and anti-blackness, and a consistent pull from a system that demands they show up as a fraction of themselves.
Even more tragic is Black women are taught the solutions to navigating these challenges are to lean into white dominant values. This solution is not only unsustainable and dehumanizing, but is associated with an increase in poor mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. The ELD workshop was created to provide a solution that honors Black humanity, centers Black wellness, and equips kleaders with the skills to manage the invisible forces in the workplace.
I'm proud that I've created this space, and I look forward to it every fourth Friday of the month. These women are bad ass and they are killing the game in every industry. Shout all to all who've attended. Y'all inspire me and I'm looking forward to gathering with you all for the Inaugural Retreat for Black Women Leaders in March.
If you are a Black woman leading in any capacity I would like to invite you to a curated space where you can learn to identify the invisible forces in the workplace, be validated in your experience, and cultivate the skills to have critical conversations that will produce meaningful pivots on your leadership journey. I'd like you to join a space that centers the psychological safety of Black women leaders, and equips them with the skills to become a transformative leader.
If you desire to sponsor a ticket for a Black woman leading in any capacity, consider this your official invitation to do so.
Oh and because it's Black Liberation Month, the price is 50% off. Use promo code 3RELITE.