It is a fact that women of color are the most violently targeted people in the world
Does the #MeToo movement apply to women of color?
So, what about the #MeToo movement and what does it mean to women who have, since the beginning of time, lacked representation, lacked inclusion and had no voice? Women of color, especially black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced. The message #MeToo sent to a woman of color is, if you are wealthy (influential) and white, people will listen because you matter.
When you are white and aggrieved, people will hear you. They will hear your outcries, they will hear your protest, they will share on their social media platforms by the millions and yes - it will go viral. People will shout it from the tallest mountains and untorn every stone because you are white, and you are important enough. The world has no choice but to pay attention, and now get angry, because you are Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Fowler, Ashley Judd, McKayla Maroney, Jennifer Lawrence, or Uma Thurman, and how dare these men treat you that way.
Wasn't it an African-American woman by the name of Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, who founded the #MeToo movement over a decade ago in 2006? She used it for the same exact reason: to raise awareness of sexual abuse, rape and assault on women. Could Tarana have been louder? Possibly, but non-white women are told to be quiet when we feel wronged.
Women of color, especially black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced.
When actress Ashley Judd stood up against Harvey Weinstein, the cry of #MeToo caught fire. It was a breaking story and in all the headlines. Not to mention the shock, when we hear that good ole Matt Lauer was fired and must go. What was new about this story this time? Most women I've talked to have experienced some level of sexual harassment in the workplace and in society. Time Magazine even went as far as doing a cover called the “Silence Breakers," naming the #MeToo movement as Person of the Year. So now, in 2017, it's okay to be a silence breaker and say to the world, that sexual harassment and rape is not okay… what took so long?! It is a fact that movements are highly successful when combined with power and influence, and the world has always told women of color that they have none. What happens to a culture that has been victimized, shut out, shunned, and silenced? They lose their voice, they feel weak, and they fear speaking up when marginalized, discriminated against, and told to be quiet. The mindset is because you don't look like us, your voice doesn't matter and how dare you question it. For a fact, non-white women do not have a platform and black voices are discredited.
Being an African-American woman, you are made aware of the challenges and oppositions early. As a child, I traveled four hours a day (two hours each way) for 8 years, just to get a quality education. It was evident to me that education, access, opportunities, support, and resources for African Americans are disparate.
Racism is real, still alive today, and institutionalized, which contributes to why no one was paying attention to a hashtag or a slogan from a young black woman named Tarana from the Bronx. Combine that with the lack of African-American women in decision making roles, power, and access. Awareness and empathy must go hand and hand for change.
Being an African-American woman, you are made aware of the challenges and oppositions early. As a child, I traveled two hours a day (a total of 4 hours daily) - for 8 years- just to get a quality education. It was evident to me that education, access, opportunities, support and resources for African Americans are disparate. Racism is real, still alive today and institutionalized, so, whose paying attention to a hashtag or a slogan from a young black woman named Tarana from the Bronx. Combine that with the lack of African American women in decision making roles, power and access. Awareness and empathy must go hand and hand.
This #MeToo movement is no different than most historical feminist movements, which contain active racism, and have typically ignored the needs of non-white women even though women of color are more likely to be targets of sexual harassment. Let's change the benchmark and correct actions of wrong, from not just hearing the voices of privileged white women, but to hearing the voices of black women. It is by doing this that we will make a mark and the world will win.
Of course, women of color care about the #MeToo movement (we've always cared) BUT we've never been heard. When there is no power and influence behind the message, who's listening? One thing for sure is that black women have always advocated for human rights, injustice, and social justice – before it was popular to do so. There would be no #MeToo movement without black women. Let's hope that society be willing to listen the next time non-white women speak up the first time.
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The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist