An AfroLatina woman with curly hair standing by a gate

I never had a set agenda for my career, but I knew I wanted to be in a field where I could be creative and use my voice. My journey has not been smooth. As a young Black woman in an industry that constantly weighs my voice down and shutters my ideas, I thought it was time I tell my side of things. 

When I graduated with my advertising degree, I started working at one of the biggest advertising agencies in Boston. I started at the front desk with dreams to be on the account management side of things. In less than a few months, I was promoted to an assistant account executive and put on a team that did not want to help nor guide me. As a result, I went from having energy and the willingness to learn to having no passion or interest.

I went from having energy and the willingness to learn to having no passion or interest.

I gave up, but I don’t regret it. After that situation, I did a lot of soul searching and learning about what I’m good at. Once I started at a position working in social media and influencer marketing, I worked with a team that was constantly doubting my intelligence. It wasn’t just me, but my two other Black co-workers experienced the same things.

We worked long hours and came to meetings prepared with notes and research. Yet, we were always questioned, our work was doubled and tripled checked and our coworkers didn’t like us “just because.” The same coworkers who posted a black square for Black Lives Matter, sat quietly as their Black coworkers’ voices were consistently shut down and pushed to the back. That is what I call hypocrisy, but I digress.

The same coworkers who posted a black square for Black Lives Matter, sat quietly as their Black coworkers’ voices were consistently shut down and pushed to the back.

We’ve worked hard to get to where we are, and it’s a shame that we all have these same issues. No matter where I am, east or west coast, I’ve spoken to many Black women who have all had the same problems. 

I want to be the change in my industry, but I also don’t want to work for a company that constantly tokenizes their Black employees when it comes to issues in the Black community. I’m not here to be a solo voice for a company that is 99 percent white, wherever I may work. I want my whole company to be allies, and I will say, I’ve only worked at one place where I felt like my company cared about social issues and who I am as a person. It’s the place I’m working out at now.

I’m no longer giving anyone a free pass, including past coworkers. I’m calling everyone out, and I want you to pull up and stand by your works. Black Lives Matter isn’t a trending thing to post on social media. It’s my life. I am a Black woman, and I deal with these issues all day, every day.

Black Lives Matter isn’t a trending thing to post on social media. It’s my life. I am a Black woman.

What can you do for your friends or employees who are people of color? Ask them how they feel, and talk to them about their past experience at work, in life and everywhere. Try to understand that your situation is not their situation.

You can’t be an ally if someone is venting to you and you make their pain all about you. Your issues will never be my issues. No matter how hard we try, Black people are still fighting to be heard, paid fairly and respected in the workplace and in the world.

If you are a Black woman, have you ever faced bias or microaggressions in the workplace? Did anyone speak up for you or call out the behavior? If not, what would this have meant to you?

Image via Aneirys Photography

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