On Black Womanness in Predominately White School Settings

I tried to downplay my existence as a Black woman amongst a faculty of predominantly white educators, but it was hard. My chocolate brown skin and my various hairstyles are a dead give away. I tried to downplay my educational achievements, but I couldn’t. My intellectual acuity and the degrees on my wall are a dead give away. I tried to downplay my ability to influence others, but it’s not easy. The way I can change the atmosphere of a room when I walk in is a dead give away, I’ve been told. Each of these facets of me has played a role in how I have had to maneuver through white workspaces in schools. This is not me being haughty–these are examples of how microaggressions and microassaults have shown up in my life that I have either contested or regretfully, ignored as a Black woman school leader.

In my previous leadership roles, I felt that I had to negotiate with myself just how much of my Black self I could bring to my work. Looking back on my earlier years in leadership, I can see how I tried to conceal or minimize my Black womanness. I tried to render my Black womanness invisible by either not addressing it or steering clear of conversations that would highlight it. I just wanted to be seen for who I am.

The lightbulb went on one day. I realized that my own efforts to downplay my Black womanness were the obstacle to me not being seen for who I am. Today, this is no longer an option. My Black womanness is precisely what grounds me in my work as an educational leader. Connecting with #wocedchat enables me to do this with pride and purpose.

This post was first published on #wocedchat Women of Color in Education 10/27/2020.

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