An executive at a large communications company invited me to a presentation about the challenges facing the industry. When the meeting concluded, the only other African-Americans present, two women, joined me to talk. I was stunned to discover that they were meeting for the first time. Both were new to the organization, worked on the same floor, had passed each other in the halls for weeks but had never spoken.
Each thought she was the only African-American executive on the floor and that the other Black women were assistants.
Two Black women struggling to find their footing in a bastion of White-male power, and perpetuating their pain in failing to connect with each other and with their community-the veteran sisters who were administrative staff, who had survived several CEOs, mergers and downsizing and could have brought sunlight, support and strategy.
From executive level to the mailroom, we are cut from the same cultural cloth. The relationships we weave give us strength. Those in the upper echelons are there to gain mastery and the power to create opportunities for more of us. Too often education, income and status separate us. But we are bicultural people, living in two worlds, and must know the language and landscape of both.
With wisdom and strategy we'll stand confidently, our feet planted firmly in our double domain, proudly African and American, guided by the hand of the divine.
Read the complete editorial, including Susan's prescription for rising about our "twoness" in the March 2004 issue of ESSENCE.
Have you ever thought of us as "bicultural people"? In the box below, give us your strategy for living Black in a White society.