By Jacqueline Johnson, creator of Jacquie ooh
Black women have historically been subjected to marginalization in movements that should address our needs, leaving us without a movement and a voice. Despite well-publicized research on gender in corporate America and communities, there’s a conspicuous lack of data that focuses on challenges faced by Black women. These challenges are not small or insignificant. Black women need advancement and support. We are economically, socially, and politically at the bottom of the totem poll. Black women must work twice as hard as their counterparts, they face many barriers. Instead of a “glass ceiling” Black women face a ‘concrete ceiling.’ The metaphor of a ‘concrete ceiling’ stands in sharp contrast to that of the ‘glass ceiling.’ The ‘concrete ceiling’ has been reported to be more difficult to penetrate, meaning Black women must work harder and have many challenges that they must overcome.
We, as Black women cannot wait for someone to come in and save us, we must step up and fight for our right to be recognized and helped. As we step forward and demand acknowledgment, we need more than people just saying they stand in solidarity with Black women, that is not enough. Playing an active role in the fight for progress for Black women is the only way to make a real difference. Creating a safe and supportive space for a marginalized group is what it’s all about.
All of that is maybe easier said than done, so here are some steps that can be taken to make the movement for making safe places for Black women more inclusive.
Leaving Privilege at the Door
What can woman of non-color do? They can create a safe space for Black women, acknowledging their privilege as a non-woman of color is crucial. Checking their privilege is a very introspective process. Recognizing their privilege means constantly looking at themselves in the context of history and society and understanding existing systems of oppression. We all have points of privilege and points of oppression and being aware of those points allows for a more productive conversation at the roundtable.
The Power of Listening
Black women’s voices are constantly silenced and being able to have a collective voice is a powerful tool. When creating a space for Black women at the roundtable, learning to be an active listener is probably the most important step one can take. Actively listening means allowing another sister at the roundtable to take up space while being understood, supported, and most importantly, heard. Listening without judging, changing the topic, or interjecting is a powerful activism tool.
Diversity is not just an ideology; diversity is also an action. When it comes to feminist events, roundtable discussions, forums, conferences, and organizations; there must be active advocacy for diversity. Does that panel on sexual assault have a voice representing black women? Are any single mothers involved in politics helping to write policies that affect everyday people? The faces of so many feminist causes are women of non-color. We must take steps to encourage diversification. We must be active in creating safe spaces and places for Black Women.
Black women are not mad, angry, and bitter. We are women who have a voice that is being silenced. We are passionate about our families, careers, and communities. We are birthers and nurturers. We are strong yet need support. We are our sister’s keeper. We deserve to be honored and appreciated. We are a part of the puzzle and our lives matter. And having safe spaces to operate as a Black woman is a MUST.
Contributing Writer, Jacquie Johnson
Jacquie Johnson is a native Texan who resides in Denton, TX with her husband and two daughters. She has two older sons who reside in California, and one grandson. Jacquie is the founder of Jacquie ooh an online resource hub for women helping them to live healthy and peaceful lives. She is the creator of the Glow Collection by Jacquie ooh, an organic skincare line. Jacquie is heavily involved in her community where she is a newly appointed precinct chair for the Democrats of Denton County. She is also a new author of two books: Glow Through It 21 Day Devotional Journal for Women and Dare to Sparkle Entrepreneur Startup Guide+Dream Big 4 Day Devotional.