Oprah relates a conversation that she and her best friend Gail when they were in their twenties about how much they would like to earn as they grow older. Even though they were once colleagues, Oprah’s career accelerated much faster than Gail’s.
One of the obstacles that hold Black women back from intentionally making strides in their careers is their need, maybe even pressure to take everyone with them.
As a community we hold each other beautifully in our suffering. It’s inspiring to see how we hold and support each other during a tragedy, a funeral and even poverty. However we don’t do very well in holding each other in our expansion.
This might be because of the condition called ‘the crab pot mentality’ as explained in the book ‘What works for Women at work’ that if there is only space for one or a few at the top. Women will act as craps do in hot water, pulling each other down so they can be at the top.
We can hold ourselves back from advancing in our careers to protect ourselves from the envy of our friends.
Tsitsi Dangaremba demonstrates this in ‘Nervous Conditions’ – how the main character’s family and friends treat her after she won a scholarship. Shonda Rhymes also narrates stories of friendship breakdowns when she became more and more successful.
Because Girls who are raised ‘well’ are raised to be kind, friendly and selfless; we can feel guilty when our success surpasses that of our friends.
We may either self sabotage to stay relevant or we may seek to drag our friends with. Forgetting that they might not share our ambitions.
Imagine what would have happened if Oprah held herself back because Gail was not succeeding at the same rate she was?
Are you a Black Woman in the Workplace who feels called to the next level of leadership, income and impact?
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