Stop Drowning Us, and Stop Making Us Disappear. A Critical Report on the State of Black Woman Leadership (Spring 2024, Print Issue)

Stop Drowning Us, and Stop Making Us Disappear. A Critical Report on the State of Black Woman Leadership (Spring 2024, Print Issue)

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Stop Drowning Us, and Stop Making Us Disappear. A Critical Report on the State of Black Woman Leadership

Spring 2024: Volume 31, Issue 1

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Digital version of the Spring 2024 issue.

  • Welcome

  • Letter from the Combat Zone

    “I’m having a Fannie Lou Hamer moment again, because, like she said, ‘I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ It’s time for me to wake up. And I hope that one day, my granddaughter will experience her worth being appreciated, compensated, and unquestioned. Or, perhaps more likely, her granddaughter.”

    by Anonymous

  • The Impossible Dilemma of Black Female Leadership: The Tragedy of Nobody Seeing Us Even When Everybody’s Watching

    “We cannot reorder the conditions of the labor industrial make ourselves acceptable as we are—that is not our work. But if that work continues to be neglected, we will continue to lose our hair, our minds, our souls, our bodies, our voices, and our futures—and oh what a tragedy that would be.”

    by Shauna Knox

  • “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible”: Navigating Three Black Women Tropes in Leadership

    “The physical effects of racism over a lifetime, called ‘weathering,’ are illustrated by health disparities among Black women. It’s killing us. And everyone is watching it happen.”

    by Kerrien Suarez and Whitney Parnell

  • Your Comfort Is Killing Me: The Toll of Unseen—and Unpaid—Emotional Labor

    “Workplace harm can result from a lack of psychological safety at work and includes behaviors such as...double standards, unreasonable workloads, and racial gaslighting. When such harms are layered upon the societal racism and sexism that women of color...endure, the damage caused is multilayered, intersectional, and cumulative—and it is killing us.”

    by M. Gabriela Alcalde

  • Beyond Karen: White Woman Archetypes in the Third Sector

    “In our society, archetypes are often rooted in harmful stereotypes. This is not the intention of this exploration. My intention here is to point to consistent White woman behaviors that have caused Black women harm.”

    by Yanique Redwood

  • Rise.

    “Some of us built up the superwoman schema so that we can survive the abuse of capitalism. And now I am on a journey to break it back down. Because while there are some benefits to being a superwoman...there are serious drawbacks, like the degradation of our mental and physical health. So I want to break it down and replace it with a community of love and abundance.”

    by Shanae’ Calhoun

  • Two Weeks in, I Already Wanted to Quit: Challenges Faced by a Queer Black Woman in Nonprofit Leadership

    “I found that if I stayed the course, was successful, and did not outshine or question my White progressive counterparts, then I was okay—but as soon as I began to speak up about inequities occurring in my workplace, then suddenly I did not have emotional intelligence, or was taking things too personally, or somehow not only did leadership feel bothered by my ‘attitude’ but also (phantom) staff felt the same…. This isolation has been especially pronounced in queer spaces, where I had hoped for a sense of home.”

    by Nadine Bridges

  • It Isn’t Just Lonely at the Top, It’s Downright Scary: The Reckoning Needed for Black Women Leaders

    “From the weaponizing of Tema Okun’s tenets of White supremacy culture to being chronically underresourced and expected to single-handedly solve the problems caused by decades of racism, capitalism, and other isms—Black women have been bearing much of the load from a myriad of directions: lack of funder and board support, challenging organizational and staff dynamics, extractive expectations of the nonprofit sector at large.”

    by Jennifer Njuguna

  • Women of Color Leaders: Shifting Power Dynamics within the Board–Executive Relationship

    “Boards entrenched in the status quo of dominant culture are having difficulty with acknowledging and adjusting to the evolving realities of what powerful leaders look like.”

    by Tiloma Jayasinghe

  • Building a Reparative Organization and Nation

    “As a sector, we need to transform our relationship to power. We must learn to name it, own it, work with it, and intentionally distribute it. In order to do that, we must build reparative organizations.”

    by Aria Florant

  • There Is Nothing Uncomplicated about Being a Black Woman Leader

    “There is nothing uncomplicated about being a nonprofit leader—let alone a Black woman nonprofit leader, and a Black woman nonprofit leader of the largest Black abolitionist philanthropic organization ever to exist in the United States.... My name isCicley Gay, and this is my story.”

    by Cicley Gay

  • Fighting to Be Wealthy and Well

    “We operate in a system that does not want us to succeed. Our economic system was repeatedly designed to keep Black people out. Any time progress has been made, it has been limited, because those working to improve the system have not wanted Black people to benefit.”

    by JaNay Queen Nazaire

  • Cocreating Conditions for Trust and Change: An Opportunity for Black Women Leaders

    “In the philanthropic world, funders are in the position of holding all the cards when working with partners, grantees, and consultants. When those partners are Black women, intersectional racial and gender biases create further unbalanced working environments.”

    by Keecha Harris

  • Threats and Opportunities: Are Social Movements Ready for Black Women in Power?

    “Thinking about how to respond to, and build, power in a new way requires a transformative mindset shift in all of us. First, each of us has to acknowledge the connections we have to power, in one way or another, and therefore how we share in the responsibility of wielding that power…. And, when power has been exercised and put into action, we share in the responsibility of the resulting outcomes—good or bad.”

    by Nwamaka Agbo

  • Possibility to Power: How Black Women Leaders Are Building New Futures

    “The world I am committed to building is one in which we all do meaningful work with respect and dignity—and get to do it as our full authentic selves. As a person with intersecting identities, this can feel like a challenge. Sometimes, it feels impossible.”

    by Amoretta Morris

  • Sham: An Anthology

    “I lost myself a long time ago. I say this in a spirit of vulnerability and honesty. I have become merely a vessel for whom and how I serve. I am a Black woman, mother, wife, caregiver..., nonprofit leader, writer, poet, an imaginative spirit, a wildflower, a creative soul. As such, a traditional narrative would not do justice to the pain, joy, beauty, hope, love, fear, despair, and exhaustion that come with my everyday.”

    by Shamyle Maya Dobbs