All Articles Tagged "black women working"
I’m a woman who used to wear her busyness like a badge. It was as if I earned a couple of “she’s-a-productive-member-of-society” points every time I tapped into my smartphone as I walked down the street (See, I even work when I walk!), informed friends that I’d pencil them in for happy hour dates (Because I’m so busy, I need a calendar to have cocktails and calamari), or showed a co-worker my written to-do list at the first sign that they wanted my help with a new project (See all of this? It needs to be finished today. I’ll remind you of such when I’m eating a cheese sandwich at my desk this afternoon and then tomorrow when I inform you that I didn’t see sunlight since, you know, I came in early and left after the cleaning crew did.)
It’s in the latter situation that I hated being asked this question: “Are you busy?” For co-workers, it’s an icebreaker. A means to ask for help with a project, and I’m often glad to offer my assistance. So glad in fact, that I’ll overschedule and overwork myself to do it. But for you to ask me if I’m busy? How dare you? Who am I if I’m not busy? Of course I’m needed every second of the day and to remind you of such, I’ll tweet at 4:00 a.m. how hard I’m grinding while the rest of you sleep.
I’m busy and that means something, right?
Not so, says writer Tim Kreider, whose recent piece for the New York Times’ Opinionator blog questioned the concept of “the busy trap.” “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day,” Kreider writes, smacking at what I think this busy trap and the “they sleep, we grind” method of ladder climbing is really about: Our busyness is a manifestation of our fears that we human beings are not enough if we are not bustling, productive doers. Being busy, it seems, is not a function of productivity and dream chasing, but of stroking our egos.
This “busy” dialogue comes on the heels of Anne Marie Slaughter’s essay for The Atlantic on whether working women can have it all, reigniting an age-old conversation about work/life balance for professionals with families and the guilt that comes with choosing one side over the other. That article and the firestorm it created tapped into a bigger discussion for working people at large: the nature of the American work culture. Because men can’t have it all, either, nor can young, single professionals or individuals whose jobs and meager paychecks make the concept of having it all a class consideration. Having what all? As Hanna Rosin notes in her essay for Slate, “None of us can have it all.”
I’ll save my feminist musings, and I (single and childless) won’t begin to suggest how parents who double as professionals can make it all work. But as a young nine-to-fiver who has a side hustle and dreams and 10,000 hours to log and 20 pounds to lose, working hard is a necessity.
But so is time to breathe. Kreider writes:
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it as whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration. It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
We often ascribe the concept of “discipline” solely to the idea of work. But we need to be disciplined about living full, mentally and physically healthy lives— working when it’s time to work (I’m now a purveyor of the “work smarter, not harder” concept of dream chasing and corporate life), resting when it is time to rest, and playing when it is time to play.
When my social life began to unravel, when I had aches in my muscles and was sicker than ever, I knew that my sun-up to sun-down days of getting cheese sandwich crumbs caught in my keyboard had to stop. Sometimes, it’s as simple as stepping away from the computer and walking outside for 15 minutes. Sometimes, it’s hopping on an airplane and disconnecting from social media for a weekend, unplugging as a means to recharge and live in the moment. Sometimes, it’s lying in bed and watching the blades on my ceiling fan rotate.
The discipline of living a full life is also about absolving the guilt we feel for doing so. (This is where I insert the oft-told adage of no one on her deathbed has ever wished she’d worked harder.)
Who am I if I’m not doing? I’m loving, I’m breathing, I’m living, I’m watching the blades on my ceiling fan spin and not feeling bad about it. I’m realizing that I am more than what I do. Sometimes being is enough.
And, seriously, get off Twitter. It’s 4:00 a.m. Go to sleep.
Readers, do you find yourselves caught in a busy trap? In which ways do you lead full, well-rounded lives?
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“Its rare to work for someone you like, and even rarer to work for someone whom you respect.” These were the words my cousin stated to me quite coolly as I droned on and on one night about my disenchantment with a supervisor. Her profound words immediately shut me up, forcing me to ponder about supervisor-employee relations. We’ve all been here once or twice in our career. We start a new job that we initially adore, only to realize one day that we are working with the boss from hell. Maybe it’s their bad attitude, or their laissez-faire conditioning, or maybe they are just incompetent — relying on you to do their job for them, holding you back from getting your own assignments done. Whatever it is, you know that if given the chance, you’d be much more reliable and productive in their position than they are. So, such an issue begs the question: How do you maintain professionalism in such circumstances? It’s so much more easier to talk about this conundrum than it is to deal with it. But I’ve found that there are a few things one should try to exercise to make every workday (until a better opportunity comes along of course) more bearable.
One of the first things one should do in such a predicament is to be mindful of your body language. True, you are not going off on your boss á la Evelyn Lozada, and I hope you haven’t told him or her to watch their step around you. But, body language says more than words can ever communicate. Do you turn your back while your supervisor addresses you? Do your eyes pay more attention to your new nail design you got Saturday than his/her’s face or report? Have you caught yourself giving him/her the I-can-care-less-about-what-you-have-to-say-right-now stare and/or rolling your eyes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to check yourself. Although you may have the lowest opinion of your boss, you should always remain professional in your demeanor. In order to avoid conflict, awkward moments, or even losing your job (even though you may feel that that would be a blessing in disguise because things are so bad) you have to keep up a certain level of respect for your superiors. If you feel that you are a better worker than your boss, there is no better way to prove that then in your behaviors and conduct.
Boundaries. You must also set boundaries immediately and reinforce them as much as possible. Setting these confines for yourself will determine how many times you text your bestie or man a message that starts off with, “You won’t believe what they have me doing today!!” If you find that you are taking on too many duties that are not only stressing you out, but that are not within your job description, you must remedy this by redefining for yourself and your boss what your day-to-day activities are. Draft up a document that lists all the things you are responsible for in your capacity. Ask your Human Resources Director for a copy of the initial job posting for your position if need be. During a one-on-one meeting with your boss, respectfully discuss how you would love to take on new projects here and there, but don’t want to become too overwhelmed by tasks that weren’t designed for your title. Provide your boss with a copy of this job description so they won’t forget what it is that you do, or so they could at least find someone to help you. Communicating effectively on paper as well as verbally (i.e., “I am not comfortable completing these tasks as I feel that I am not properly suited to tackle them as of yet”) will allow you to protect yourself, and make your interactions with your boss somewhat bearable.
Americans are known for their career-centered lives. With most of us pushing 40-plus hours on our respective job sites, it’s hard not to build friendships and camaraderie with our co-workers. However, such friendships should not be worthy of us divulging our true feelings regarding our supervisors. I know how hard that can be. Your boss tried to embarrass you in a meeting. You want to run to your office bestie and let her know what you would have done in that boardroom if you weren’t a Christian. But, its not safe nor wise to do so. Your office walls may be solid, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that they are not soundproof. You never know who is eavesdropping on your conversation; your boss might be right around the corner as you release your thoughts to your office buddy. And although I know she is your “girl,” you never know who you can trust for sure at work. People are always looking for a leg up, so it’s best not to provide anyone with information that can incriminate you or ammunition to start some drama.
When we’re being lectured about our careers by mentors, professors and parents, rarely do they bring up how to deal with the boss from hell. It’s the subject that’s lampooned on TV and in films, but rarely tackled in serious conversations. In this economy, I know how hard it is to feel stuck in a job where you feel unwanted and borderline abused. That stress is enough to make a sister want to big-chop her hair just to release some tension. Hopefully, these tips will help you from screaming to your boss, “I should be where you are!” as I’m sure that would create a scenario for which you and I both have zero solutions.
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Every year Black Enterprise encourages and support Black women through their annual Women of Power Summit. While that would be enough, the also honor women of the past with their Legacy Award. The woman pictured above is Jocelyn Elders.
Elders served as the United States Surgeon General from 1993 to 1994 until she was fired behind controversy about some of her views.
You can see what other women Black Enterprise has honored, here.
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With additional reporting by Torri R. Oats
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is facing massive shutdowns because it is $10 billion in debt. As it is a main source of good jobs for black people, particularly black women, this could deeply impact our community. CNN reports that 120,000 jobs are on the line as the government considers layoffs and other measures to make up this billion dollar difference. Twenty-one percent of USPS workers are African-American and 37 percent are women, showing its potential impact on our community. Currently, USPS workers are fighting to stop these tremendous losses. As black unemployment is already twice the national average at about 17%, this is not a fight we can afford to lose.
How did this happen? The problems facing the USPS didn’t start overnight, and they are not related to the decline in people sending mail as is being promoted by the GOP. In fact, one can point to a burdensome 2006 law that mandates the USPS to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits in just over ten years. It is worth noting that the USPS is the only federal agency affected by the law. The current struggle is the culmination of this ill-conceived legislation.
Critics of this law have compared this to a person being told suddenly that you have to pay your 30-year mortgage in five years, and then being threatened with foreclosure if you cannot come up with the cash overnight. Before the federal government began demanding these prefunding payments, which amount to billions of dollars a year, the USPS was actually profitable. Now, all of a sudden the Postmaster General has been forced to lay out a dire scenario to Congress which could result in the firing of thousands of workers and closing thousands of facilities — not to mention cutting back on basics like Saturday service.
Some activists believe this crisis is being “manufactured,” according to The Huffington Post, with the intention of dismantling the USPS so it can be privatized for the benefit of cut-throat companies with no interest in serving the public good.
Over 50 years ago Malcolm X said that the most disrespected, neglected and unprotected woman in the United States was the black woman. I’m afraid that in 2011, not much has changed, but I think I have a solution. In an effort to right the wrongs of the oppression and degradation black women have faced over the past 400 years, we need to dedicate this entire century to uplifting, honoring and protecting black women.
Let’s start off by honoring our beautiful women. When I think of a beautiful ebony woman, a few women come to mind automatically. First Lady Michelle Obama, Revolutionary activist Assata Shakur, veteran actress Angela Basset, Kerry Washington and last but certainly not least Nina Simone, Ms. Young Gifted & Black in the flesh. Often when we praise black women in the media we only look to our musicians, athletes and actresses but I also want to lift up the “everyday” black girl who most of us identify with and love dearly, with a few familiar faces. So let’s check out some beautiful black Queens who are beautiful inside and out.
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So you wanna be, or you are, a small business owner? Here are some much needed tips…
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If your bank account seems to deplete more than it aggregates, we have some helpful tips for you. See if you can remember these five steps to growing your account quickly.
Who is the “loud” sister? She’s the one everyone can hear cackling on her phone in the break room. She is the woman heard throughout restaurants. She’s the chick yelling across parking lots.
The perception of a loud black woman is that of an uncouth, ghetto banshee; and, while it could be entirely wrong, it’s what runs through the minds of people passing by the girl screaming into her phone. Perceptions derive from a series of impressions and are often the basis from which people are judged. The stereotype of the loud black woman is not going anywhere any sooner than that of welfare baby mamas. So, if unknowingly loud women want to be perceived differently, they have to turn it down. Well, at least until they’ve exceeded their goals…
If you are an intelligent, bright, level-headed sister that happens to project more often than necessary, adjusting your volume is not about changing who you are. It’s about playing the game to get what you want. However, if you are the ‘hood chick bumping your gums beyond loud at work, you may want to reevaluate some of the reasons you may be where you are in life. One of them could be that the voice you have “carries.” For whatever the reason, there are several of us who could use a deduction in our default volume. Here are a few tips for turning down the noise level and turning up success:
What would women do without girlfriends? How would we grow and survive without the experiences and wisdom shared between friends? From our best pals we learn some of the most important lessons in life, observing their experiences and collectively exploring solutions. Girlfriends mold one another based on the intimate thoughts, emotions and values they share.
Suggestions come in abundance, so I’ve narrowed the list. These are the best pieces of advice a girlfriend could give:
Change is an inevitable truth relative to any job. New management structures, management systems and technology and more efficient ways of doing common tasks occur everyday in corporate America. For some individuals, they are extremely resistant to change and would rather continue in the old ways of doing things. In today’s work culture, this can prove to be very detrimental. However, there are some people who are able to embrace the necessary changes without complaining and are able to contribute successfully to their organization’s bottom line.
In this current time and space, it is imperative to become a positive change agent- that is, someone who affects change by sowing seeds of love, peace and hard work. Here at least four ways to become a positive change agent in your organization- exclusive of your positioning in the company: Read the rest of this entry »
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