Reflections on Woman of Color in Leadership

Honoring Black History Series: This month as a part of our commitment to honor black history, Access team members will be sharing about businesses, books, literature, stories, podcasts, films, songs, or pieces of art created by black authors, leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists that have impacted us.

By McKenzie Jackson, a member of Good Food Systems Team

McKenzie shares below a reflection on two books that have been impactful this year: The Memo by Minda Harts and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.

 Why do you want to share this with others?I think so often as woman of color we rarely get the opportunity to read about people who look like us and experience things like us at the leadership level. Reading The Memo by Minda Harts and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown inspired me to pursue executive leadership in the public sector. I think it is important for us to be able to read books that put what we feel and experience every day into words. Validating things I experience in the workplace and giving me tools to navigate these things was crucial from these two authors. I also want others to be able to read from black women authors and recognize the inequalities we face when trying to secure our seat at the leadership level and in professional settings.  How did you find out about it?
 A co worker (Alaina) shared the book I’m Still Here with me, stating that she felt a lot of what was in this book could put words to what the non-profit sector feels like to me as I had been trying to verbalize different things to her. I heard about The Memo from Shannon Cohen and gained so much insight on what it means to secure your seat at the table and be in a leadership role as a woman of color.  What shifted for you when reading these books?
It isn’t as much as what shifted in my mind, it was more so what I now feel inspired and called to do. It is necessary and needed for black women to hold seats at the table in all forms of executive leadership. We must continue to strive and create paths for those coming behind us because so often no one else is doing that. I think it is important in the public sector to look at our leadership and fight for black women to hold and occupy those seats. The odds are stacked against woman of color from the start including pay gap, micro-aggressions, biases, and so much more. I want woman of color to see and learn from women who look like us and are fighting for us in leadership and not have to worry about our hair or our tone of voice when we are expressing something passionately. We need to feel safe in these spaces and that can only begin to happen when we have people who look like us and who are ready to fight for us in higher level positions, who will help influence and change racist values and policies at predominantly white organizations. 

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