One of the greatest legacy’s we leave folks who come after us is to tell the truth. Truth telling comes at a cost. For some, telling the truth cost them their jobs. Others were moved to the promotion ‘slow track’ or ‘disappeared’ (i.e. still employed but overlooked by leaders in power).
Often when giving presentations, people say ‘you are so brave’ or ‘that was really courageous.’ I used to brush the comments off. I mean who wants to constantly face the reality that telling the truth = brave in their industry? That was a hard thing to make peace with.
After a while, I started getting annoyed. This bravery was putting me at risk personally and professionally. For a long time, I felt alone. Sadly, I was one of millions.
Unfortunately, I learned that when working while Black, our truths are not seen as organizational and institutional realities to be changed. Instead, our experiences individualized and exceptionalized.
This is a solidarity post for all my sisters.
So I curated the list below to bear witness to the voices of Black women and other women of color who felt safe enough to share the truth about their experiences working in white spaces.
Please take care of yourself as you read/watch the information shared on this page. If you have a physical reaction, consider stopping to do some breath or bodywork to release the tension before you continue. I’m dropping the link to one of my favorite practices to help. If you decide need to take a break, close the document or tab until continuing feels right.
I will update this post as I run across content that will make this list more robust. If you have contributions you think I should add, leave them in the comments below or email them to me (at) iamkelli.com.
Articles & Blog Posts
- Black Women Have Been Traumatized in the Workplace (Ella T. Gorgla)
- Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome (Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey)
- Don’t call me ‘resilient’ — it covers up systemic racism (Vinita Srivastava)
- Thasunda Brown Duckett of Chase: ‘People Need to Know Who You Are’
- The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace
Books & Reports
- Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit (Mary-Frances Winters)
- Day-to-Day Experiences of Emotional Tax Among Women and Men of Color in the Workplace
- Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector
- A Conversation On Accountability, Antiracism and Authenticity (Dr. Akilah Cadet)
- Has Anything Changed for Black Women at Work?
- In Rare Company (Aiko Bethea)
- Living At The Intersection (Brittany Packnett Cunningham)
- Uncovered: Finding & Being Authentically Myself at Work (Suezette Robotham)
- Why you should not bring your authentic self to work (Jodi-Ann Burey)
If you’ve made your way through this list of resources, I hope you felt connected to the power these leaders used to create change. So, as you think about your own leadership and how to show up in your organization, consider tapping into what these badass women left for you.
I’ll leave you with this reminder: we got us! Hang in there.