If those in positions of power and privilege are not shielded from misogynoir, then what protections do Black women who are not in positions of power and privilege actually have?
VP-Elect Kamala Harris
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman, first Black woman, and first South Asian person to serve as Vice President in the history of American politics. Her win last week brought to the forefront issues of race and gender representation, as well as the powerful organizing efforts of Black women. Ninety-one percent of Black women voted for Biden-Harris, and Black women led crucial grassroots organizing efforts in Georgia. As voter Ashley Bankhead shares, “Seeing people in political leadership roles who also look like me makes me care more, makes me want to show up and make sure I’m voting.”
Many people are articulating their gratitude to the Black women who voted and organized to elect Biden-Harris. But often, Black women are acknowledged for their efforts during election season and then sidelined again until the next election. Voter Ashley Hicks puts it this way: “I think about Breonna Taylor—when things like that happen and it comes time to get justice, we don’t get that. But when it’s time to put democracy on our backs, people are in awe and amazed of what we as Black women do.”
How It Affects You
Author Minda Harts points out that seeing Harris onstage in Delaware sent a message to corporate leaders: When Black women are sponsored, they can change history. Let Vice President-Elect Harris’ win serve as inspiration and a call to action within your organization or institution. Hire Black women into leadership roles, and avoid these common pitfalls when you do so.
The Thanksgiving Myth
The myth of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 has been used to erase crimes that led to the mass starvation of Indigenous people. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights contemporary struggles with food insecurity that Indigenous people face. Native American activist, Winona LaDuke, argues that as more people become aware of systemic oppression, the country may be ready to treat Thanksgiving as an opportunity to address “the cruelty Native Americans have experienced throughout history.”
Indigenous communities continue to receive limited access to resources they need to survive. The Thanksgiving myth of an amicable encounter between the Pilgrims and Wampanoags is not only largely inaccurate, it causes further harm to Indigenous people. By framing the displacement of Indigenous people as consensual, we erase the experiences and histories of Indigenous communities with non-consensual domination. We can dispel the myth by acknowledging the colonial violence that led to the death of Indigenous communities and continues to marginalize them today.
How It Affects You
Faculty, teachers, and workplace leaders can use Thanksgiving as a time to acknowledge the harm the Thanksgiving myth and systemic oppression have caused Indigenous communities. Dispelling the Thanksgiving myth requires learning about the misconceptions and inaccuracies the myth perpetuates. It’s also important to acknowledge the long-lasting impact of colonial violence on Indigenous communities. We can do that by addressing issues, like food insecurity, that continue to affect Indigenous people.
Disability as Diversity
Disability is often mentioned as part of diversity efforts, but that doesn’t always translate into meaningful feelings of inclusion for students with disabilities. Activists and scholars explain that disability is often viewed in terms of accommodations and accessibility—as a biomedical condition rather than a group identity. The intersectional nature of disability is also often overlooked. For example, a person with a disability at a racial, gender, or LGBTQ+ affinity group meeting may feel unseen or out of place if the intersection of disability with other identities is not explicitly recognized there.
It’s important to note the many forms disability can take. Some disabilities, like mobility impairments, are easy to see. Others, like hearing impairments or psychosocial conditions, are less visible. The CDC reports that if we include both visible and less visible disabilities, 26 percent of people in the US have a disability. Disability is a lot more common than some may think.
How It Affects You
Whether you work on campus or in an office, you can dig deeper into disability inclusion by:
- Holding listening sessions with students or employees with disabilities so you can hear their recommendations and work to implement them;
- Inviting disability scholars and experts to speak on campus or at the office;
- Establishing disability cultural centers and affinity groups; and
- Acknowledging the role of the criminal justice system at the intersection of disability and race. As Dr. Denise Reid explains, “both Black and disabled individuals are overrepresented among victims of police killings.” And “children of color are overrepresented in special education classes and often are pushed into juvenile justice programs.” Consider what role your school or organization can play to change these outcomes.