Mental Health & the Corporate Black Woman

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I have been contemplating this topic for the last several months but every time I started to write about it, I found myself discouraged by the weightiness of the subject.  You see, Black women, Black people in general, rarely talk about mental health, though most of us, if we are honest, probably know at least one person in our families that is not quite mentally healthy. Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I decided to push through and get this out.

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Hidden Figures (2 of 2)

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Still on Hidden Figures and the moments that had me squirming in my seat, sighing deeply, or straight bawling my eyes out…

Yesterday’s Wooden Door is Today’s Glass Ceiling

A few days ago, a girlfriend of mine called me, completely distraught.  She has been working on a difficult work project for months and just as she was finally approaching a note-worthy breakthrough, a senior leader took the project and assigned it to someone else.  She felt disregarded, invisible, unimportant.  How many of us have felt this way in the workplace at least once? You work hard on something only to have it snatched from you in the moment of glory.  Kat must have felt the same heartbreak each time she was asked to work behind the scenes only to have a White, male counterpart take credit.  In the final scenes of the movie, she solves a complicated and life-altering problem, and as soon as she communicates the solution, the door is shut in her face. Literally. She is shut out from seeing the fruits of her labor.  She is shut out from the glory and recognition.

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Hidden Figures (1 of 2)

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I saw Hidden Figures on MLK day.  I haven’t written in a while but I couldn’t stay away after watching this film.  I don’t recall any movie ever touching me quite this way.  My only regret was having to watch it in a theater full of old, White folks who annoyed me with every exclamation.  Like, honestly, why are you collectively gasping at the sight of the “Colored Only” coffee pot or bathroom?  This wasn’t that long ago…you were an adult then.

I felt so much during and after this movie and I couldn’t wait to come home and share. Given how rich this film is, I will share my thoughts over the next couple of parts to do it justice.  Btw, Spoiler Alert!

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Who Taught You To Be Confident?

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If you’ve read my last few posts,  you may have noticed that I am a few months in with a new employer. As I’m sure you know, there are definitely challenges and growing pains that come along with any major transition. Mine has not been easy but I’m making it work.

My new role involves being a senior team member with the responsibility of helping to develop an up and coming team.  One of the team members is a young woman; smart, personable. She was very welcoming of me to the team and she frequently expressed her gratitude for “having someone she could learn and grow from.”  Over the last few months, we have developed an informal, but close mentoring relationship where I not only coach her through specific job tasks, but her career overall. This excites me! I have struggled to find my path in the Corporate world, wondering if there is a way for my double consciousness to intersect seamlessly. I know now that whatever I end up doing will involve coaching and mentoring young Professional women.

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Corporate Eye Candy

List the top 3 things you need to make it in the entertainment industry as say, an actor or model.  Come on…It’s not a trick question. Pretty sure appearance made the list, right? Every minute of everyday, we are being bombarded with images of society’s definition of beauty and attractiveness. Seems to me this definition, while constantly changing, becomes narrower and narrower. With the surge in social media, these images are now all over Facebook and Instagram. If I have to see one more person on IG with their ass pointing towards the camera, or a picture of someone’s abs…

Anyways,  this is not a post about defining beauty. That is an age old debate, albeit incredibly worthwhile.  Today, I am especially troubled by the realization that Corporate America can be just as harsh in judging people based on appearance.

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The Spotlight is Shining. Stand in It!

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If you know anything about growing up in an African, ultra-Christian home, then you know a bit about how I was raised.  I, like most of you, was brought up by family members who believed humility and gratitude were the most extolled virtues. It’s hard to disagree when you think of how many chapters in the Bible are dedicated to this ideology.

“Blessed are the meek…”

“In all things, give thanks…”

Where religion leaves off, conventional African wisdom picks up with sayings like…

“Pride goes before a fall…”

“The fool speaks, the wise man listens…”

“Pride is the mother of arrogance…”, etc again teaching us, from a very young age how far we can get in life simply by being humble and meek.

So it suffices to say that I grew up with these values ‘beaten’ (literally, albeit lovingly) into my subconscious.

As a young adult entering into the Corporate American landscape, I struggled with balancing these values long inculcated in me, with the new Corporate values of self promotion, i.e., speaking highly of one’s self and achievements.  I had a difficult time talking about or taking credit for good work I had done.

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