Where is the clout for women of color?

How do we find ourselves in a world where there are so many firsts to be had for women of color? There are so few doctors, engineers, filmmakers that reach the level of success and recognition that even some of our other sisters seem to receive.

On my level, there are VERY few, in fact, let’s say there ten sisters of color on college campuses leading a vocal and influential charge. Not because they don’t have a voice but because they are overlooked when someone asks, who should lead the diversity focus on campus?

Clout. We base a lot of decisions off of clout and influence without even realizing it. We use other words for someone’s sphere of influence like bias and familiarity. Women of color have little positive clout in the everyday places of our lives. At work, with my coworkers, I often get sucked into the conversation about what it will be like when I become an engineer. Regardless the fact that I am at work as an engineer. But how often have my coworkers worked directly with a Black female engineer? It takes no stretch of the imagination to say possibly never.

It takes no stretch of the imagination to say that many readers of this post also have never worked with a Black female engineer.

This lack of representation happens in many fields. And that leads to insecurity and imposter syndrome, where I am told I don’t belong yet and so I feel I don’t belong yet.

The state of affairs, at least in America, is that you see women of color so infrequently that one experience educates you for life on what a Black woman is and does.

I am going, putting it bluntly but isn’t it so odd that we are all so dumb? We have to be informed by television, books, and movies what life is all about. And that is mostly made up fiction. Even the nonfiction tale of the Ten Commandments or Nelson Mandela has some fiction in it that changes our perception of how things are.

So here we are, not understanding how to deal with women, people of color and women of color in the real world. We have these HR cases and scandals about serious problems that have to be immediately addressed. And the sad part is, whoever enters those cases with the higher, positive clout usually comes out the winner.

Because women of color are still making MANY firsts in the entertainment industry, the likelihood that the fictional education will stop anytime soon is not very big. Women of color remain poor in the clout department, and there is nothing WE can do about it but continue to affirm ourselves. And hopefully, the receipts will show in the end that we knew all along.

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Talk Soon!
Michael Berhane, Founder of POCIT
Camille Eddy
Camille Eddy

Camille Eddy is a machine learning engineer at HP Labs in Palo Alto, helping to bring in the next generation of robotics.

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