Let’s face it not all women of color will be able to start their own business. Many of us are faced with competing in the work place-corporate America. We have many bridges to cross, demonstrating that we are intelligent enough to have a voice and challenges with being seen as aggressive.
Some years ago I was hired to manage an Indiana organization’s social service department. During the interview for this position I wore a wig. Not because I was trying to be someone else, but because I was having a bad hair day. After demonstrating that I was the best person for this position, I was hired. I should preface this by saying that I was asked by the Vice President of the department to interview for this position. Months had gone by and I got the opportunity to get my natural hair twisted. Uncovering my natural hair beauty at worked unleashed some deep rooted ugly preconceptions about people of color from members of that organization.
Once the Vice Presidents came into my office with his mild and serious voice told me that the CEO of that organization saw me now as militant, by then my twisted hair had been taken down -if you ever had your hair twisted, you know they don’t last forever- I now resembled Angela Davis. A few months later I was handed a picture of President Obama in white face.
The Center for Women Policy Studies found 21% of women of color surveyed did not feel they were free to be "themselves at work." The same study found more than one-third of women of color — ranging from 28 percent to 44 percent — believed that they must “play down” their race or ethnicity to succeed.
As women of color we have to overcome being called, angry, bitter, divas, even though I didn’t mine the diva, I can be difficult to please at times. On a more serious note, stereotypes based on Ethnicity and Culture backgrounds are serious problems in the work place. How do we manage around them? Where do we go from here?