It’s Women’s History Month and what better time to share my experience as a Black Businesswoman. I know you all are probably tired of hearing about the black woman experience, especially after Black History Month. However, you are here on a black woman’s website and given those circumstances, I feel it is safe to assume you are open to learning from a black woman’s perspective. However, I sometimes feel that if I were white, I would probably receive more support regarding my unique perspective on mental health and autism. Let me share more on why I say this.
When I have been out and about selling my books at various vendor events, all too often I hear “Oh, you wrote the books?” from my older non-black customers. I guess it is assumed that I must be selling the books because how could I have written them? Now, I don’t know if it’s because I am there representing a publishing company, they feel I must be selling books by other writers too. However, all the books say one name and that name is mine. And given that fact, why are you still shocked when you find out it’s me who wrote the books? Afterwards, I get a fake smile and the walkaway without them even looking inside the book. This leaves me with the impression they don’t believe that books are any good because I wrote them.
I have considered the possibility that I am paranoid and reading into things too much. However, I recently saw a Tiktok by Lanny Smith, the founder of Actively Black & Actively Faith Sports, where he said he hid the fact that he was black from his customer base by not posting himself on his social media or website. He was afraid that his white Evangelical customer base would not remain loyal to him if they knew he was black. He began to feel ashamed of what he was doing because his parents had taught him to be proud of his blackness. This brought to light the sad reality that we black people face when it comes to our business brands. Being that I am a double minority, I think my intelligence and ability to cultivate a quality product or provide quality services is always coming into question. I feel like I must try twice as hard as my nonblack counterparts to prove myself. Have I considered hiding myself for my business? Yes, the thought has crossed my mind. I sometimes feel that I would be more successful if I did. But because I am a person of integrity, I could never do this. It feels dishonest, yucky, and inauthentic.
I hope that with time, people will learn to value me and what I have to offer regardless of my race or cultural identity. I have many years of experience in mental health and autism and can definitely call myself an ‘expert’ in these fields. As a friend once said “Do not hide your light under a bushel” and I won’t any longer. Even if some only see my race, I see the value and power I hold within and will not allow myself to be demeaned or undervalued because I am not seen by some as an ‘expert’ or good enough because of my race. Even with that being said, the world is changing and ‘becoming more brown’. However, my question is “When this happens, will this improve the world’s perspective on the abilities of black women?” That remains to be determined…
I invite others to join in on this discussion but if you are uncomfortable doing so, feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a topic I can no longer brush under the rug and although I hope I didn’t offend anyone, I must speak my truth.
Love and light,