As a Black woman who worked as a journalist for 20+ years in media in New York — namely in magazine and digital publishing — I have been the woman in this illustration above that has been circulating a lot on social media, particularly LinkedIn. The panel in front of me, however, was often filled with incredulous white women.
I remember in one interview I was told by my potential boss that she was worried I wouldn’t know about or be able to report on white celebrities like Angelina Jolie because, well, you know, I’m Black, so obviously I only know how to write about Black celebrities, right? I bit my tongue, smiled, and explained that, unlike her, I have to know white celebrities, while she, on the other hand, doesn’t care to know or feel like she needs to know who Gabrielle Union is. (At the time, she didn’t.)
I remember another time, after spending weeks making sure all editorial hands were on deck to create content for an upcoming particularly white-centric holiday, I suggested that we create content relative to Black History Month. “You do it,” I — the only Black person on the team — was told with a shrug. (I didn’t.)
I won’t dive into the dismissiveness experienced again and again when bringing up story ideas or concepts that either celebrate or acknowledge Black culture, only to have those same ideas be considered “brilliant” and something we simply must cover when presented as some “new thing” Taylor Swift or pick-a-Kardashian has “discovered.”
As Black women who work in white creative spaces, we often don’t even realize the trauma we experience daily via microaggressions, ignorance, or complete disregard that is steeped in systemic racism and that paints you and your ideas as “other.” I’m hopeful that the times we’re in not only allow our white counterparts to realize how harmful, hurtful, and, honestly, bad for business this is, but that it also reminds us to find spaces where our creativity, our genius, and our culture are valued, honored and celebrated; not just where they are appropriated. And perhaps, those spaces are outside of work.
Wherever you decide those safe creative spaces are for you, cherish them, hold them dear and nurture them. And make sure they do the same for you.
Elayne Fluker is an inspirational speaker and coach for Black women who have been successful in their careers, but who want to make entrepreneurship part of their next chapter. I specialize in helping you navigate this transition, and I empathize with many of the challenges you may be facing in taking those courageous first steps. We’ll work together to confront your fears, discover your zone of genius, adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, overcome limiting beliefs and take on those challenges so we can set you and your business up for success!
Elayne is also the creator of Support is Sexy, which includes her beloved podcast featuring interviews with more than 500 diverse women entrepreneurs around the world. In 2019, she founded SiS.Academy — an online learning platform with video workshops taught by top women entrepreneurs and experts — to help women have access to information that will help them grow their businesses. Her first book, which encourages unapologetically ambitious women to get over “I-Got-It” Syndrome and embrace support as their superpower, will be published by HarperCollins Leadership in 2021.
Want to get in touch with Elayne Fluker? Just send her a text. Really! Send a text to +1 (908) 955-9422 or just click here to enter your details into her phonebook, and she’ll text you back. Ask a question, reconnect or just say, “hello.”