Written by Areva Martin and Narrated by Marie T. Russell.

Editor's Note: While the article focuses on the current situation for black women, many of the conclusions can be applied to women in general.

Miami attorney Loreal Arscott was getting ready for work one morning when she hesitated. Scheduled to appear in court that day, she debated whether to put her hair into a bun to make her colleagues feel more comfortable. She was reminded of the comments she'd heard many times before as people compared her curly and straightened hairstyles. In addition, as a Black woman, she needed to worry constantly about her performance in court. Would she be seen as "too aggressive?" Would she do a disservice to her client because of her passion for her work?

Ms. Arscott's experience offers the smallest glimpse into what professional Black women endure every day.

As an attorney who graduated at the top of my class from Harvard Law, I can tell you that a Black woman with Harvard credentials is still a Black woman. I think back to serving as a summer associate in one of New York's most storied law firms. My peers and I were excelling in school, standing out from our talented classmates at law schools across the country. Many of us were offered positions at the firm upon graduating. But despite it being a somewhat diverse class of associates, the people running that firm today, two decades later, are still white men.

Successful women are seen as a threat?

Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law. As first lady of the United States, she faced constant criticism, from cruel comments about outfits that bared her shoulders to hateful questions about her femininity. In an episode of her podcast, she talks about being both targeted for abuse and invisible to white people, even after she'd reached the highest levels of government: "You know, we don't exist. And when we do exist, we exist as a threat. And that—that's exhausting."

Black women reaching the highest levels of success, like our former first lady, are not immune to the microaggressions prevalent in our workplaces, from "compliments" about how articulate we are to "advice" about striving too aggressively to succeed to assumptions that we're in court as an interpreter or defendant. I spent years being...

Continue Reading at InnerSelf.com (plus audio/mp3 version of article)

Music By Caffeine Creek Band, Pixabay

Narrated by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com

Copyright 2021 by Areva Martin. All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author

Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We've Been Told
by Areva Martin

book cover: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We've Been Told by Areva MartinAnyone who is looking to move forward in their career will gain insight and enjoy anecdotes from Areva Martin’s Awakening, which calls out the lies told by a patriarchal society and calls in all people to work toward a more equitable one. A self-help book and feminist manifesto all in one - Awakening is a call for action and gender equity in a post-covid world. 
Awakening goes beyond the idea that women should ask for a seat at the table. Areva Martin makes the case for women to tear down the building, build anew, and choose tables that make room for everyone. She does this by exposing five lies told by society that have kept women held back for so long. By further exploring the problem and offering solutions that benefit all people, Awakening gives women in all careers a path toward a more equitable world. 

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of AREVA MARTIN, ESQAREVA MARTIN is an award-winning civil rights attorney, advocate, social issues commentator, talk show host, and producer. A CNN legal analyst and Harvard Law School graduate, She founded Martin & Martin, LLP, a Los Angeles-based civil rights firm, and is the CEO of Butterflly Health, Inc., a mental health technology company.

A best-selling author, Areva Martin has dedicated her fourth book, Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We've Been Told, to helping women worldwide recognize, own, and assert their limitless power. Learn more at arevamartin.com.

More books by this Author.