Black Women: Keep Winning
“Don’t you have enough?”
This is what Shonda Rhimes was told in 2020 when attempting to rectify a Disneyland ticket error at the park. This article outlines the details of how this prompted Rhimes to move her production company, Shondaland, to Netflix.
“As a Black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box. And Black women often feel underestimated.”
Beyonce uttered these words in her Netflix special “Homecoming” which chronicled her path to Coachella. She was the first Black woman to headline the event and she did it on her own terms, complete with an HBCU theme, a black-orchestra, drumline, and dancers.
This year marked Beyonce’s record-breaking Grammy win as the most awarded artist in the history of the show. What else made headlines? Her fourth snub for Album of the Year, which was chronicled by countless publications.
“She’s never won any awards.”
This is what I was told a few years back when my name was removed from an awards nomination after the nomination period was closed due to someone with a higher-ranking position who’d been there nearly two decades without any nominations, let alone wins. I’d been there only a few years and racked up several. I wrote about it here and here.
You can have the talent, the proven track record, the degrees, the references, etc. But people do not want Black women to win. It’s historical.
If you want to argue with me about this, don’t. Instead, here’s your starter reading list:
- Collins, P.H. (1986). Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought. Social Problems, 33(6), S14–S32. https://doi.org/10.2307/800672.
- Collins, P. H. (1990). “Mammies, Matriarchs, and Other Controlling Images.” Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Unwin Hyman.
- Joseph, R. L. (2018). Postracial resistance: Black women, media, and the uses of strategic ambiguity. New York University Press.
- Snider, I. N. (2018). Girl Bye: Turning from Stereotypes to Self-Defined Images, A Womanist Exploration on Crooked Room Analysis. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, 17, 11–19.
Black women often report how negotiating authenticity and respectability politics, especially at work, can be suffocating. The stress and anxiety of trying to appease notions of Whiteness reduces Black women. You can’t be authentic when you’re constantly trying to reach an ideological standard of what is right (white).
But still, you persevere. Perfection is a disease of a nation, and we’re constantly making ourselves sick over it.
Working twice as hard? How about “Grey’s Anatomy” being the longest-running primetime medical show in history? Or being a global superstar? Or bringing local, regional, national, and international acclaim – not to mention record-breaking revenue – to a USG institution?
All of this … only to face walls of “no” … so what’s the solution?
Rhimes went to Netflix and racked more wins with “Bridgerton.”Beyonce racked up several awards in recent days and is adding even more dates to the “Renaissance” tour due to demand. I continue to win awards years after my nomination was blocked.
As my mother told me, “They can’t take that away from you.” That = your knowledge, track record of success, intellect, acumen: It’s yours. People who want to block you do not own you. Recognize your power and use it to keep winning.
- Sojourner Truth: Orator, Abolitionist
- Harriet Tubman: Crusader, Soldier, Leader
- Ida B. Wells: Journalist, Activist
- Fannie Lou Hamer: Community Organizer, Activist, Orator
- Shirley Chisolm: Congresswoman, Visionary
- Kamala D. Harris: Vice President of the United States
- Ketanji Brown Jackson: Supreme Court Justice
All of these Black women made significant change despite the obstacles in their way. That can never be taken away from them, although many continue to try.
Be like Luvvie, who advocates for professional troublemaking for the greater good. Be confident. Take up space. Walk in your truth.
And by all means, Black women: Keep winning.