Recently, I had a deep discussion with a group of women about what it means to be successful as a black woman. Success in today’s society is hard for any person of color, but a WOMAN of color has an even harder time reaching “success”.
As an opener to this discussion, we read a Forbes article entitled “Failure Is Not An Option: The Pressure Black Women Feel To Succeed”.
Right off the bat, I instantly connected with the title of this article. If anyone asked me what emotions I feel when it comes to attaining success, I’d say I feel pressure. I feel pressured to succeed all the time. But, why is this? Why do women of color feel so pressured to be successful?
In my opinion, I think women of color are always trying to defeat a stereotype. Society tends to have preconceived notions about women of color, like we have multiple children to abuse the welfare system or we create dysfunctional families. But, according to the Forbes article, black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs and are enrolled in college more than any other group of women. So, with statistics like these, it’s clear that black women are already defying the odds.
But, many black women aren’t given the recognition they rightfully deserve for their hard work. We still have this mentality that says “You have to work twice as hard to get half of what they have.” (shoutout to Ms. Olivia Pope). Though this idea sucks, I believe it’s unfortunately true. Black women work hard for everything they have, but because we are women AND black, we are denied the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. And, this is where the pressure to succeed comes from. We know how hard we will have to work to get where we want to be. We know that because of our skin tones, we may get denied certain positions that we’re overly qualified for. But one thing about black women that no one can deny is that we have resilient spirits.
I’ve seen this resilience in my own mother as she dealt with her own struggles while still working and being an amazing parent to my brother and me. I see this spirit in other older women who can still smile and offer words of encouragement despite the battles they’ve had to endure. So, whenever the pressure to succeed gets to be too much, all I have to do is look at all of the successful black women around me. Reaching success will be hard, but I know for sure that success is definitely attainable for all women of color.