By Veracia Ankrah
Posted on January 28, 2022
Dear Black Women,
By now, we know society is wrong for the picture they paint of us; unpleasant, rude, and a pain to deal with in all settings, whether in our professional or personal lives. The truth is they lie. Perhaps the naysayers haven’t done their research or aren’t familiar with any Black women in their lives. Let this letter serve as a bold reminder, that you are made of sugar, spice and everything nice. You, the millennial Black woman, are making active strides in your life to achieve more than generations before. You are taking chances with your careers, leaving jobs and relationships behind that affect your mental health, starting businesses and ultimately defining “success” on your terms. You are embracing entering into your late 20s, 30s or even 40s with optimism instead of settling for the very little that society believes young Black women deserve.
Over the past two decades, the number of Black women-owned businesses has increased by over 300 per cent in the U.S, making Black women the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the nation. Despite lack of funding, investors and the double-jeopardy facing racial and gender bias; Black women continue to prevail. Similarly, the largest study of Black women entrepreneurs in Canada suggests unfair treatment and microaggressions push Black women out of the workforce, but we have found unmet needs in the product and service markets and made it a point to give back and celebrate our communities.
According to the Black Business and Professional Association’s survey of 700 Black women, the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased 29 percent of overall sales and increased cancelled orders and events by 34 percent. Systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism aren’t new to the pandemic but have amplified issues that Black women entrepreneurs deal with regularly, like the challenge of affordable and accessible childcare while growing their businesses. However, even a global pandemic was not enough of a reason for Black women to stop pursuing their dreams and showing up in all other aspects of their lives.
In business, Black women take the time to learn their audiences and adapt to their consumers as opposed to their peers who often steal ideas from Black women and rarely suffer the consequences of their cultural appropriation. Imagine major fashion brands stealing from up-and-coming brands, or taking social media trends Black women create to promote their own platforms. This happens far too often.
In 2016, women of African descent remained the most educated in the U.S, receiving more post-secondary degrees than any other demographic. In Canada, racialized data is rarely collected and often only accessible to government groups. But according to Statistics Canada, the proportion of Black women with post-secondary education has steadily increased since 2001 at a more pronounced rate than their male counterparts even as Black women continue to be subjected to gender and racial discrimination.
Despite the world’s neglect of our humanity, we turn negative energy into love and create safe spaces for our friends, families and partners. Black women defend our own in public and correct their behaviours in private––even when our efforts go unappreciated and our voices are silenced. It’s just what we do. Black women take a page out of our forever first lady, Michelle Obama’s book and “when others go low, [we] go high.” We are living testimonies as the late, great writer and poet Maya Angelou wrote, because although, Black women “may encounter many defeats, [we] are not defeated.”
There is not a single group of people on Earth that are owed the honour and outpour of love you deserve to receive every single day. Thank you for being you, Black women. Keep doing whatever it is that your soul needs to do. Keep showing up and showing out.
A fellow millennial Black woman