Chasing your dreams is probably the most tumultuous thing you will ever have to do in life. As bold as that read, it means you have to be brave and stay consistent in the face of all obstacles.
What about the unique challenges and conditions people of color experience?
Although I'm proud to be Black, I didn't know pursuing my dreams would be riddled with racism. I wasn't blind to it, but I had no clue it would plague my career world.
As a writer, it's incredible to have the ability to express my thoughts on a page for the masses to read. But, when it comes to expressing challenges as a Black woman in the workspace, my words fall short.
So, here I am, trying to sum up over 20 years of experience, and over 400 years of racism in this essay.
This is my open letter to all the Black girls trying to make it in their careers.
Ever since I started school, my parents always ingrained in me the idea of working twice as hard. In the older generation of Black families, the idea is that you single-handedly cannot change over 400 years of racism in a day, so you have to be resilient in the face of it.
This mantra repeats the same notion that if you work hard, nothing — not even 400 years of refined racist infrastructure — can break you.
Although that "can-do attitude" is inspiring, it's not enough!
It leaves Black people, especially Black girls with no blueprint on how to acutely deal with biases in the workplace.
To all my Black girls out there, I think my parents were trying to say the way to "deal" with a racist person is to not "deal" with them. Not that racism shouldn't be dealt with, but the first step is realizing that it is not your problem nor responsibility to "check" a racist individual.
Racists should be lonely in their hate, so the remarks should sit and fester with the individual who spews it, and not taint or absorb into your wonderful vibe of melanin magic.
But, the truth is, racism can distract, discourage, and deter Black girls from pursuing their careers.
A number of my Black girlfriends even try to avoid the idea of working at a publication that isn't directed towards a Black audience. Not because they are discriminatory towards other races, but simply the battlefield that lies in being at the company.
Are there racist/sexist coworkers? Will they stare at me like I'm from outer space when I speak? Will my boss be sexist? Will they discredit my work?
One of the ways to spread Black girl magic in the workspace is to have a community — a safe space where you can air out your issues in the workspace, and get feedback from other like-minded individuals.
In unity there is strength, and I'm amazed at how Black women from different walks of life can find understanding in one another through their racial experiences.
This is easy as creating a group chat with the Black women in your field, or messaging other Black girls on social media who are doing things you want to pursue in your career.
No more crying in our cubicles at the office, or speeding down the parking lot of our job in angry haste.
Black women need relief and actionable steps to combat biases against us in our careers.
As wonderful, freeing, and comforting sister-circles of the community can be, alone they fall short in addressing and remedying Black women struggle in the workplace.
People should be held accountable for their racist and sexist behavior.
This means addressing it to the highest degree, and not becoming "a deer in headlights" when the questionable bias is taking place. To feel safe and dignified as a bBack woman in the workspace, you have to ruffle feathers to show everyone you won't be compliant.
Personally, I had to relearn that addressing biases in the workplace is not confrontation, career suicide, or drama, but necessary.
This doesn't mean staging a protest on the third floor of your office building (but if that's your thing, do you girl!) but, making sure you follow up with the bias incident. Your voice matters and your experiences matter, so much so that I recommend making a connection with the individual's boss to address the incident.
This means getting to know other people at your workspace and scheduling a meeting with the Editor in Cheif, the Vice President of the company, or the Head of a Department. Make sure you keep it cordial and have your receipts saved on a file or an email thread.
Black female agency needs to be encouraged in the workspace.
Without it, Black women are left constantly offended and stressed at their jobs. Aside from work performance, your personal experiences at work should be positive and respectful, period.
Lastly, absolutely crush it at your job!
Although racism may perspire on the walls of your workplace, they gave you a job for a reason: because you are talented! Don't let the bias incidents stop you from sharing that all-star idea that can bring the company in a new direction, reaching out to write another hit story, or stop you from rocking braids and natural kinky curls in your office attire.
If nobody is giving you the validation for your hard work, I will. I'm proud of you and I know in spite of all the obstacles, your Black girl magic glitter will spread!