When Black Women Lead, We All Win: 10 Inspiring Leaders Show Us the Way
By Marianne Schnall and Tolu Lawrence
Two weeks ago, to a nation weary from battling two deadly pandemics—coronavirus and systemic racism—Biden made history by announcing Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, the first Black and South Asian woman VP candidate on a major party ticket in US history.
Today we find ourselves facing another chapter in America, but it’s not a new one—the fight for racial justice is sadly familiar, and it is as painful as it is hopeful. As we continue to march in the streets, organize and demand that our nation finally realizes the promise of its founding for all Americans, the question we must ask ourselves is, will this time be different? The answer lies in you. What are you going to do to warrant a different result?
To get you started, we reached out to 10 incredible Black leaders. We hope you read, share their reflections forward, and take their recommended actions. That’s what we plan to do.
News, Resources, and Actions
The Crisis Continues (in the US at Least)
Woman-led New Zealand and a handful of other countries have gone 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19, but here in the US, the pandemic rages on. Our failure makes sense when you consider that we’re being led through sexism and racism incarnate. But those who care about representation got a boost with the announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic Party’s VP. She’s the first Black and the first South Asian woman to hold that position for a major party and she just might be the first woman to hold that post.
Medicine Is a Racist Practice
COVID-19 continues to exacerbate the racial fault lines in the US, even among our children. Communities of color were already more likely to suffer from chronic conditions and lack access to medical care, but now that’s only gotten worse. The mental health toll, lack of services, and prejudicial response are particularly severe for women of color and there’s no end in sight. Especially when you consider that even when we do get a vaccine, there’s no plan to roll it out to distrustful BIPOC communities who are tired of being experimented upon by white doctors.
Losing Ground in the Workforce
Like health, the economy is particularly perilous for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women who are more likely to lose their jobs, work in “essential” positions that put our health at risk, and get paid less than the average white guy. All this had led to the first-ever female recession with women losing so much economic ground as to send us back two waves of feminism. Whether we’re dealing with gender-based violence or less access to government assistance, women are being forced out of the economy and the effect on our long-term financial freedom does not look good.
Parenting Has Become a Zero-Sum Game
Schools are scrambling to figure out what to do and individual families are having to weigh all the factors without responsible, consistent guidance from the federal government. The result is a bunch of misinformation and a reversion to old gender roles. We’d hoped that men would step up, but instead women are taking on more of the childcare burden. We don’t want it to be moms vs. dads (or moms vs. those without kids) but that’s how it’s shaping up, especially as women get punished for being working parents and men do not.
Nevertheless, We Persist
It’s not all bad news though. The cost may be high, but women all over the world are figuring out how to make the best of the pandemic. Afghan girls are creating low-cost ventilators to help their communities. Gender-lens philanthropy is getting more attention. And mothers and daughters across the nation are finding new ways to connect and to do so at a deeper level. In fact, more of us are identifying as feminists than ever before and hopefully, we’ll vote like it!
Featured Authors: Nina Agrawal, Meredith Balkus, Dr. Rosalind C. Barnett, Anthea Butler, Leah Campbell, Chabeli Carrazana, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Nisha Chittal, Bonnie Chiu, Elizabeth Chuck, Elizabeth Cooney, Aris Folley, Julia Gillard, Katherine Goldstein, Natalie Gontcharova, Oliver C. Haug, Terri Hansen, Greg Iacurci, Herminia Ibarra, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Storay Karimi, Shefali Luthra, Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Carmen Niethammer, Peggy Noonan, Sarah Owermohle, Erica Pandey, Neil Paine, Andrea N. Polonijo, Caryl Rivers, Rachel Roubein, Binah Schatsky, Constance Sommer, Barbara Sprunt, Mike Stobbe, Phil Taylor, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, Cory Turner, Jessica Valenti, Teresa Watanabe, Phil Willon, and Ed Yong
In the wake of the pandemic, growing social unrest, and unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, we all need to draw from our deepest reserves of strength and resilience. During my over two decades as a journalist, I have been fortunate to interview a wide range of incredible and powerful women, all of whom have had to overcome a variety of obstacles in their lives and have important and inspiring wisdom to share. I decided to cull through my interviews for quotes that could help us all find courage, hope, and resilience to cope with whatever we are facing in our lives—and the inspiration to work together and support each other as we do the urgent and necessary work toward creating a better world.
With insights from Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Kerry Washington, Jane Fonda, Stacey Abrams, Jane Goodall, Amy Poehler, and many others.
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