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Leading from the Front Lines

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The announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate marked another historical moment in our nation. The moment when everyone else realized what most black women have known all their lives; they have always been ready to lead. For years we have sat silent on the sidelines watching a very small number of bold and tenacious black women fight their way to the top only to be broken and defeated. Their drive to be successful and make it to the top levels of leadership is admirable, but in some cases watching their defeat has caused uncertainty among black women who had hoped to one day make it to their level. The path of these women has sparked so many unanswered questions. Why is there a limited number of Black women in leadership? Why do Black women leaders continue to be treated unfairly? 

Their mothers and grandmothers have stressed the importance of learning leadership characteristics at a very young age. We have seen this countless of times as Black women take on leadership roles in their communities and in their homes. 

Historically, Black women have had to endure stereotyping in most facets of society, this is especially true in the workforce.

In my years as a research associate studying the roles of African American women in leadership, I found there to be a number of reasons that Black women continue to face barriers. Historically, Black women have had to endure stereotyping in most facets of society, this is especially true in the workforce. Black women not only have had to encounter gender stereotyping, but also racially grounded discrimination, which has without a doubt, jeopardized their advancement in the workforce. Often, they are told they just don’t have what it takes to be a leader regardless of their education and skills. One of the greatest myths is that leadership is something that people are born with. Those that believe this myth would also argue that unless you were born with the leadership trait, you cannot simply become a leader. Over the years research has been done to challenge this theory and prove that with the right kind of teaching, learning, observation and support, great leaders can be developed. When we think of the complexity of leadership, it is extremely difficult to believe that one is born with all the necessary tools needed to lead. Its far easier to conclude that there are some people who have some inborn characteristics such as their personality style, that predispose them to become leaders. Black women are well aware of the skillset they must acquire to be considered a leader. 

These however, are leadership roles that come naturally based on a rich culture. Even though these leadership roles are well needed and celebrated, Black women have shown that they have so much more to offer to society.

Former Vice-President’s decision to choose Harris as his running mate in the 2020 Presidential Election says that the world has also noticed that Black women have a lot to offer and they are no longer America’s best kept secret.

Former Vice-President’s decision to choose Harris as his running mate in the 2020 Presidential Election says that the world has also noticed that Black women have a lot to offer and they are no longer America’s best kept secret. Black women are no longer willing to lead from “where we are”. Instead, we are charging our way to the front lines building a support network that spans the globe and charting a path for for those who come after us.

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