The Invisible Hand: We Need to Support High Profile Black WomenDate - September 5, 2020
Marilyn Mosby, Kim Foxx, Kim Gardner, Aramis Ayala , Stephanie Morales– they each broke barriers to become the first Black woman elected as state’s attorney in their regions. Yet, all have experienced harassment, retaliation and verbal abuse associated with those positions. Most have faced lawsuits, death threats, legal inquiries and public scrutiny by politicians, police officers, police unions and sometimes, constituents.
While a Black woman’s appointment, selection or ascension to a massive role is exciting, there is an underbelly associated with career progression. I document this in my forthcoming book “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life,” out in February 2021. The book speaks to the unrealistic expectations, racism, sexism and downright hostility associated with being the first or only. The point of the book, and this broader work, is to say that being first is great, but standing alone isn’t.
In “First and Only,” I note that there is a seldom-acknowledged level of second-guessing, undermining and menacing that Black women experience throughout their careers but especially in high-stakes roles. Unfortunately, shattering a glass ceiling and breaking through a barrier isn’t inoculation from peers who question whether you belong, team members who treat you differently because of your race and gender, and opponents who resent your audacity to even show up.