You need sponsors to get projects. Staffing is really anxiety-driven.
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You interview for every project. If you have a sponsor you might not need to interview. If you have no one in your corner you get weeded out. Black women often find sponsorship challenging in their organizations if they have trouble relating to those whom they work with. Because of this, they may often attribute their lack of advancement in the company to a lack of sponsorship.
Aside from not seeing professional role models, there are real business consequences to consistently being in the minority at work. Differing from the majority at work creates what Katherine Phillips, Nancy Rothbard, and Tracy Dumas call status distance , that is, how far away you are from the perceived norm and power structure in your company.
Exclusion forces people to deviate from their authentic selves. And authenticity is integral to well-being. And beyond the emotional and mental toll, homogeneity and bias can have real career consequences for black women. Statements said by a black woman in a group discussion were also least likely to be correctly attributed compared to black men, white women, and white men.
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Black women in leadership positions are also more likely to be criticized or punished when making mistakes on the job. While I tried to limit my own bias as much as possible by interviewing only women whom I did not know and sticking to the same set of questions for every interview, it was impossible to completely remove my own personal experience from this project.
In its bumbling way and with far-reaching political consequences, the executive branch also offered warm greetings to the single-parent family. Alert to growing apprehension about the state of the American family during his presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter had promised a conference on the subject.
Clearly less concerned with conditions in the ghetto than with satisfying feminist advocates, the administration named a black single divorced mother to lead the event, occasioning an outcry from conservatives. By , when it finally convened after numerous postponements, the White House Conference on the Family had morphed into the White House Conference on Families, to signal that all family forms were equal. Instead of the political victory for moderate Democrats that Carter had expected, the conference galvanized religious conservatives.
Later, conservative heavyweight Paul Weyrich observed that the Carter conference marked the moment when religious activists moved in force into Republican politics. Doubtless they were also more energized by their own issues of feminism and gay rights than by what was happening in the ghetto. M eanwhile, the partisans of single motherhood got a perfect chance to test their theories, since the urban ghettos were fast turning into nuclear-family-free zones.
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In the ghetto, that number was considerably higher, as high as 66 percent in New York City. Many experts comforted themselves by pointing out that white mothers were also beginning to forgo marriage, but the truth was that only 9 percent of white births occurred out of wedlock. And how was the black single-parent family doing?
It would be fair to say that it had not been exhibiting the strengths of kinship networks. According to numbers crunched by Moynihan and economist Paul Offner, of the black children born between and , 72 percent received Aid to Families with Dependent Children before the age of School dropout rates, delinquency, and crime, among the other dysfunctions that Moynihan had warned about, were rising in the cities.
In short, the 15 years since the report was written had witnessed both the birth of millions of fatherless babies and the entrenchment of an underclass. Liberal advocates had two main ways of dodging the subject of family collapse while still addressing its increasingly alarming fallout. Advocates like Edelman might not have viewed the collapsing ghetto family as a welcome occurrence, but they treated it as a kind of natural event, like drought, beyond human control and judgment.
The Carnegie Corporation followed suit. T he second way not to talk about what was happening to the ghetto family was to talk instead about teen pregnancy. In response to its alarms, HEW chief Joseph Califano helped push through the Adolescent Health Services and Pregnancy Prevention and Care Act, which funded groups providing services to pregnant adolescents and teen moms. Nonprofits, including the Center for Population Options now called Advocates for Youth , climbed on the bandwagon.
Grant Foundations all started demonstration programs. There was just one small problem: there was no epidemic of teen pregnancy. There was an out-of-wedlock teen-pregnancy epidemic.
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Teenagers had gotten pregnant at even higher rates in the past. Back in the day, however, when they found out they were pregnant, girls had either gotten married or given their babies up for adoption. Not this generation. They were used to seeing children growing up without fathers, and they felt no shame about arriving at the maternity ward with no rings on their fingers, even at In the middle-class mind, however, no sane girl would want to have a baby at 15—not that experts mouthing rhetoric about the oppressive patriarchal family would admit that there was anything wrong with that.
That middle-class outlook, combined with post-Moynihan mendacity about the growing disconnect between ghetto childbearing and marriage, led the policy elites to frame what was really the broad cultural problem of separate and unequal families as a simple lack-of-reproductive-services problem. They did not follow the middle-class life script that read: protracted adolescence, college, first job, marriage—and only then children.
At any rate, failing to define the problem accurately, advocates were in no position to find the solution. Teen pregnancy not only failed to go down, despite all the public attention, the tens of millions of dollars, and the birth control pills that were thrown its way.
It went up —peaking in at pregnancies per 1, teenage girls, up from per 1, in , when the Guttmacher report was published. About 80 percent of those young girls who became mothers were single, and the vast majority would be poor. Throughout the s, the inner city—and the black family—continued to unravel. Child poverty stayed close to 20 percent, hitting a high of Welfare dependency continued to rise, soaring from 2 million families in to 5 million by By , 65 percent of all black children were being born to unmarried women.
In ghetto communities like Central Harlem, the number was closer to 80 percent. By this point, no one doubted that most of these children were destined to grow up poor and to pass down the legacy of single parenting to their own children. T he only good news was that the bad news was so unrelentingly bad that the usual bromides and evasions could no longer hold.
Something had to shake up what amounted to an ideological paralysis, and that something came from conservatives.
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Three thinkers in particular—Charles Murray, Lawrence Mead, and Thomas Sowell—though they did not always write directly about the black family, effectively changed the conversation about it. First, they did not flinch from blunt language in describing the wreckage of the inner city, unafraid of the accusations of racism and victim blaming that came their way. And third, they believed that the poor would have to change their behavior instead of waiting for Washington to end poverty, as liberals seemed to be saying.
By the early s the media also had woken up to the ruins of the ghetto family and brought about the return of the repressed Moynihan report. After all, this was America, the land of equality. Fast forward to becoming a single mother looking for work. I later discovered that many other children of color had gotten the same message from their parents.
My parents experienced racial politics before the Civil Rights era. Well, no! Not only that, but by , higher-income African Americans had less wealth than middle-income White Americans. By , while the typical family in every racial group had lost ground with income and wealth growth benefiting only those in the top 1 percent , people of color had lost more than their White counterparts.