Lifestyle | February 22nd, 2023
Black Navigation Through A White World
By: Danae Daniels
Success often refers to the accomplishments in an individual’s life. Within corporate America, being a woman is worse than, if not just as, negatively equivalent to being Black; so, imagine the obstacles that persist when an individual is both.
Danita Sutton of Denver, Colorado, now residing in Massachusetts, has attained a successful life by maintaining a solid mindset and asserting herself as a knowledgeable professional rather than a victim as a Black woman working in accounting management in corporate America.
Sutton always took after her father’s mannerisms stating, “he always didn’t want us to be victims like he never ever wanted us to feel like we were inferior to anyone.”
Working While Black
In the preliminary stages of working, Black people come to realize that they are minorities and that their community amongst various other people of color is not respected highly, if at all, by the majority.
In her early years of undergraduate school, a professor told Sutton she was not fit to pursue a degree in accounting and should consider working in retail. Sutton described, “they had put me in a box. I put me in a box, and you know it was a hurtful moment for me.”
However, Danita Sutton overcame the microaggressions placed on her. She now works full-time as a Senior Manager of Commercial Operations at Pegasystems in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and leads a team of minorities working in accounting.
Discrete racism and discrimination exist in the education systems, workplaces, restaurants, and shopping facilities in the northern city of Boston, MA. As prevalent as it is, discrimination and racism are heavily undermined and overlooked in Boston and worldwide.
Successes Through Struggle
A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that Black workers are more likely than white workers to be subjected to management abuse, including humiliation, rudeness, and public criticism. This behavior can lead to lower job satisfaction and increased turnover among Black employees.
Tareckia Simpson of Boston, Massachusetts, who now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, has successfully established a food catering business named FryChix, after quitting her receptionist job following multiple racially motivated work violations. Simpson detailed, “I took an opportunity to define my life making money and advocating for myself.”
According to a Center for Talent Innovation report, Black professionals are 50% more likely to experience exclusion in the workplace than their non-Black colleagues.
Although being a Black professional in white America has its adversities and misfortunes, there is a larger-than-life resilience and tenacious attitude that births through struggle.
On the rise, young Nigerian CEO and entrepreneur Elis Omoroghomwan describes success as “internal happiness” and that “whatever you do in life that provides you with ultimate internal happiness makes you successful.”
Omoroghomwan considers himself successful in the way that he has established and structured his Black-owned tech platform, Zyp Run. Both Omoroghomwan and the City of Boston deem Zyp Run the “first cannabis delivery operator in the city of Boston,” the most notable accomplishment of his twenties.
Doing Your Part
While networking is vital for all professionals, it is especially critical for Black people in White corporate America, who may not have access to the same social networks as their non-Black colleagues. According to the 2021 Fortune 500 list, only 7 Black CEOs represent 1.4% of the CEOs.
Omoroghomwan described that within the company, Zyp Run, employers “make sure to hire people that are underrepresented within the community hiring minorities and those disenfranchised by the war on drugs” worldwide.
By diversifying their workforce, Black businesses like Zyp Run can access a wider pool of talent and perspectives, which provides fresh ideas and innovation to the company. This new change, in turn, supports business growth, and it becomes more competitive within its marketplace.
Workplace discrimination towards people of color and women exists all over the world daily. However, those that identify as Black should plan to deal with conversations regarding racism or prejudicial issues with as much transparency as possible as they are finding their way as professionals in the corporate world.
Like Trinidadian reporter and writer John Eligon said in his first-person sidebar to a race-related story, “black people tend toward frankness when we discuss race.” There is beauty in transparency when discussing the horrors and devastations of racism.
Sutton stated white corporate America is “always going to hold us to a different standard, but we do not have to be victims.”
The experiences of Danita Sutton, Tareckia Simpson, and Elis Omoroghomwan demonstrate that success for Black individuals in corporate America is, in fact, attainable. Success requires talent and skill but resilience, determination, and the willingness to advocate for oneself.
By embracing transparency in one’s Blackness and actively working to diversify their workforce, businesses can provide opportunities for underrepresented groups, paving the way for innovation, growth, and a more equitable society.