Where are you in the social hierarchy?
Patricia Collins in her book Black Feminist thought tells us about the matrix of domination that frames the experiences of Black women. That Black women do not only face oppression from one form of power but through a system of interrelated and intersectional systems of power. She identifies four domains which make up this matrix of domination as the structural, disciplinary, hegemonic and the interpersonal domain of power.
For the purposes of this post I’m interested in the hegemonic domain of power. As far as it relates to the social hierarchy that Black women are socialised to adhere to, most often unconsciously. We know that in South Africa, the social hierarchy, backed by the prioritisation of government investment into their development; was the White man on top, the White women, Indians, Coloureds and Black people last. Black women- because of the intersectionality of their identity as both Black and female – at the bottom. This is reflected in the current employment equity statistics. Black women are the least represented in the top and senior management positions in South Africa.
Black women have to contend with not only how this social hierarchy plays itself in the minds of those they interact it, but equally so, how this social hierarchy plays itself in the minds of Black women themselves and how that impacts their interactions with others.
If you have internalised your inferiority as being in the bottom of the race social hierarchy and have also internalised the patriarchal conditioning that teaches you to see men as fathers, uncles and older brothers to you in the workplace. You will struggle to assert yourself as their equal and their leader. Confirming the already prevailing bias that you belong at the bottom.
Are you a Black Woman in the Workplace who feels called to the next level of leadership, income and impact?
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