By Tekita Bankhead
We are approaching that point of the year where the seeds of New Years’ resolutions are starting to blossom in the forms of new bodies, new baes, new businesses, new blogs, and everything in between. It’s a beautiful time to see the visions of brilliant Black women coming to fruition, and I’m loving every moment of it! I’m following every new social media announcement. I’m buying yet another T-shirt with a “woke” catchphrase because a dope Black woman designed it. I’m here for every brunch, mixer, social, summit, or conference with another Black woman headlining and spilling all of the intellectual gems I can soak up. I mean, Black women everywhere are definitely having our “You can’t sit with us” moments if I do say so myself. Flip your hair, pat yourself on the back, keep taking my coins, and keep killing the game, sisters!
Unfortunately, the empowerment of Black women, while a warm and fuzzy concept, is simply not a reality for all of us. Sure, it’s popular to uplift and revere the Black women in enthusiastic celebration of our #BlackGirlMagic on social media. However, I know too many Black women who are not feeling the warmth of that magic in their professional worlds, and their fires are being painfully snuffed out by some of our own sisters.
The tenets of Black feminism and womanism are now mainstream terms that have fueled a narrative that focuses on equity but sometimes leaves out crucial interpersonal elements surrounding love, collective uplift, and divisive systems of oppression. In the past month, several women have shared their painful experiences of either not feeling supported by another Black woman in the workplace or feeling as if she has been unwillingly pitted against another Black woman. These are the stories that many are not willing to share for fear of disrupting the “magic” we have come to value so deeply, but we have seen these women. We know these women. And, I hate to break it to you, but some of us are these women. The one Black woman in senior leadership who is not advocating for the advancement of younger professionals. The one jealous Black woman bad-mouthing you to colleagues in an effort to bolster her reputation. The Black woman who is not offering mentorship or guidance to a young girl trying to figure out life. The insecure Black woman who is spreading rumors another Black woman. The Black woman who is stealing another Black woman’s ideas. By all means, this is not the truth about all Black women. However, it only takes one tainted heart to plant seeds of anger, trauma, and bitterness into another that then spreads like cancer throughout our sisterhood. Have you planted seeds of pain or seeds of promise in another Black woman? This is a problem that we must address swiftly to reclaim and maintain the integrity of our magic.
As I reflect, I notice that the people who heavily invested in my professional development at the onset of my career had been Black men. Though I have now been blessed to acquire a phenomenal support network of professional Black women, I recognize that many may never seek or receive that due to having some of those painful experiences. By no means are Black women obligated to support, guide, and uplift other Black women, but the benefits are shared among all of us when even one of us triumphs. That one Black woman shifts the culture and shatters glass ceilings. That one Black woman normalizes ascent to the executive suite with no gossip, foul play, or unfair critique. That one woman maintains your trust that when we call each other “sister,” family or not, there is a level of love, allegiance, and protection that is tied to that term of endearment.
The world has tried to teach us that there is only one way to win, but our life experiences have certainly taught us otherwise. Black women are intrinsically equipped with a unique set of undeniable gifts. When one of us wins, all of us win. So, if we claim Black girls are magic, why have we not acknowledged that there’s more than one type of magic? Plus, what good is magic if you keep it all to yourself? Someone helped me shine, and I plan to spend the rest of my days spreading the sparkle. I hope you’ll join me.