Black Working Mom 3

By NASHANTA’ WHITAKER

Two master degrees, an undergraduate degree from Tarheel Nation (UNC-Chapel Hill), a very successful career climbing the corporate ladder, 11 years of marriage, and 5 kids later, I am still labeled. One of the few black female VPs in my organization, an entrepreneur, a mentor, and several accolades later, I am still labeled. When does the labeling stop? I ask myself that question all the time. What mold should I fit in because I have five kids? Should I care more about what people think of me? Should I hide who I am for corporate America? Should I scream and shout that all my kids are by one man whom I met when I was 16 and married when I was 26? Should I obsess over my appearance so I’m not labeled as “that mom?” No and neither should you.

I remember the times when I would literally be in tears from the stares at the mall. People would make comments when I was out alone with my kids. “They’re so cute, but do you want more?” they would say boldly to me. With a confused stare I wondered “why?” Why would people ask that? I’ve always had the means to take care of my kids.

As I got into corporate America I found myself working even harder to defy all stereotypes. I didn’t want to discuss my personal life. I never wanted senior leadership to question my ability to work hard, because I had such a large family. I always worked harder, faster, smarter, and longer than most people. Imagine my shock when I heard a supervisor comment, “I am worried about Nashanta’ because of her kids. Can she travel? Does she have a support system at home?” When did my support system become an acceptable topic to discuss?

The truth is that most moms work outside of their home. Many black moms are highly successful despite the lack of a true support system. Whether you are married, single , or dating your professional capabilities should never be questioned because of your choice to be a parent. Unfortunately, what should happen and what does happen in the workplace are not the same. Here’s some encouragement for all my working, talented, creative and beautiful moms:

  1. Your kids are your strength and you should never forget that. Be very proud of them, because being a Mom is the hardest, most rewarding job you will every have. The benefits are simply priceless.
  2. You are phenomenal. There are too many stereotypes for us to try and break all of them. They will continue to exist so accept them and accept who you are. You can remain silent as your work speaks for you.
  3. Knowledge really is power. Your story should be shared. It’s time to sound off.

Nashanta’ Whitaker is a mom, the author of “Sistergirl, You’re Pregnant,” and the creative visionary behind Vision5 Academy of Dance in Durham, NC. As a result of a successful corporate career, she enjoys counseling students and other professionals on career choices. Check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

4 Comments

  1. I applaud you. I have no kids and I find it difficult to combat the stereotypes of a single, childless black female. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I love it when I see women like Nashanta profiled on a blog like this because we all have different stories but we all deserve the same level of respect

  3. I love this. So true. Your children shouldn’t be an issue because you’re a woman. Working is something we want to do and we will make sure that we’re able to balance it. So, thank you for confirming that you can still be successful and a mother.

  4. Women of any color can absolutely do it all. I wouldn’t necessarily think that a question about a support system or being able to travel would be out of bounds, though.

    I am a black mom of five and I own a company. I have a staff member that is a black mom of two. Whenever we discuss a project that requires her to work longer hours or travel, we discuss her children and support system so that we can get work done around her mom duties. I’d have the same discussion with any parent—no matter the gender or color. My babies come up in conversation often as I’m up and away from my desk by 2 p.m. each afternoon to begin pickups from school. And if I’m hanging around later than that, someone from my support system is absolutely filling in.

    I call it being considerate…but I guess it depends on who it’s coming from.

Leave a Reply