Don’t you know, that what you don’t know can hurt you?
I recently coached a Black woman, she was not the first one to come to me with problem. She failed to qualify to become a CA (Chartered Accountant) over a decade ago. Even though she is a smart, hard working woman, she has been stuck with this failure and it has dampened her confidence and stagnated her career.
I have so much compassion on these women because that was my story for so many years as someone who failed to qualify to be a CA as well, and who battled the same feelings for a number of years.
It wasn’t until I came across a tweet by Khaya Sithole @CoruscaKhaya unpacking the systematic racism and exclusionary practices that contributed to the high failure rate of Black CA candidates in South Africa; that I allowed my getting over that failure to begin.
Carl Jung once said ‘Until you make the subconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate’. Which means that if you don’t uncover the subconscious beliefs that direct your life, you will assume that the outcomes of your life are fated.
I would say to Black women ‘if you do not make the impact of the historic and systematic racism and sexism conscious; they will direct your life and you will internalise it as a personal failure’.
The other factor that intensified my internalised incompetence over this failure was the fact that some Black people who looked like me who qualified. I fell into the trap of assuming a monolithic experience of all Black people. I wasn’t mindful specific advantages that they might have had, that allowed them to pass when I couldn’t.
This is what Michelle Obama elucidates in her latest book, that she had some advantages that allowed her to push through. We all fall in a spectrum of privilege.
We fail ourselves and our children when we do not educate ourselves about the impact of racism and sexism, so we can better contextualise our experiences. This is what Megan Harkle’s mother attested to. That if she knew then what she knows now, she would have better prepared her daughter for the implications of being a Black woman.
Are you a Black Woman in the Workplace who feels called to the next level of leadership, income and impact?
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