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Last week, Ella Rucker, entrepreneur coach and co-producer of #MentorMonday with Paul C. Brunson, hosted a Marketing Mastermind event to give entrepreneurs strategies and tips for promoting their respective brands. My cousin was visiting from London and I felt responsible for ensuring she had a good time — though Americans and Brits all speak English, sometimes things still get lost in cultural translation.

I’ve been to networking events where the atmosphere was tepid at best and chilly at worst. In those situations, I’ve had to deal with women, of all colors, who seemed much more interested in seeing what you could do for them than discussing opportunities for collaboration. But Ruckers’ Marketing Mastermind was the complete opposite and such a shining example of Black women on their best business behavior.

Not only did these African American women embrace my cousin as a “sistergirl from around the way,” regardless of national origin, they took interest in her experience as a brown girl in Britain and found ways to connect. They shared beauty secrets about hair and compared notes about the struggles that, sadly, unite Black women living in white patriarchal countries.

According to the “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express Open, the number of businesses owned by African American women has grown 322% since 1997, making Black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Women now own 30% of all businesses in America, accounting for some 9.4 million firms. And African American women control 14% of these companies, or an estimated 1.3 million businesses. These are the statistics that don’t make it across news circuits. The educated, warm, thoughtful, and enterprising Black woman that loves herself and women like her isn’t one of the prominent actors of the American cultural narrative or in discourses about race. This Black woman is neither celebrated nor recognized in popular culture. But she exists.

Smart, ingenious, welcoming Black business women exist. We’re not unicorns. And if you are one of us or see another one of us at an event, a coffee shop, or on your social media timeline, don’t keep it to yourself. Spread the word. Please be active in promoting and drawing attention to these images and ways of being that replace the broken and distorted representations of Black women with their fuller and fleshed-out counterparts. If we’re ever going to completely deconstruct the negative archetypes of Black women that continue to persist and, once and for all, achieve equal respect and recognition in the entrepreneurial realm the work has to start with us.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at Download your free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.

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