As young girl I was free, energetic and curious about the world around me. The youngest of three girls, my parents always encouraged individual thinking, creativity and gave myself and my sisters room for personal growth. Their parenting created a space where I explored freely within safe boundaries and I didn’t fear life.
As I graduated from high school and entered into the military, I became more curious and wanted to learn as much as I could. However, during this time, I began to run into barriers. Barriers that came in the form of labels. Not to say labeling didn’t occur before this period of time, this was just the first time in my life that I became aware of them.
Labels such as, “You’re a Smart Black woman”, “You’re Too Aggressive” or " You Too Much". I always knew I was an African American woman who was energetic and smart, but to me, the color of my skin was irrelevant, so I thought!
As I exited the military and furthered my academic path, I landing in the corporate world. Here is where the labels grew. The labels were subliminal and at times overt. My colleagues who weren’t African American women were considered “Thought Leaders”, “Innovators” and “Forward Thinkers”. They were praised for ideas and concepts that I created and applauded for ideas I shared but failed to receive acknowledgement for. As time went on, I became more aware that being a Black woman meant there was a pre-frame. A pre-frame of what I was supposed to be, how I was supposed to speak and how I was supposed to react to particular situations.
Overtime, I have become intolerant of labels, the ones that are surprised that I am articulate. The ones that are surprised I hold numerous advanced degrees. Or the label that asks me who helped my write ten books which implies I am not smart enough to write these literary master pieces on my own. I am intolerant that we speak of women’s equality, yet, most of the women on panels about issues that affect all women are homogenous in thought and complexion.
I am intolerant that I am supposed to suppress my righteous anger. I am intolerant that as a woman of color I am supposed to be strong, yet, not feel the pain of systemic racism, setbacks and rejection. I am intolerant that despite having numerous advanced degrees, I am paid less than other working women. I am intolerant that I don’t receive the same quality healthcare or access to top positions in corporations.
As I write these word’s I am intolerant of choosing to keep myself bound by anyone else’s labels. Today I emancipate myself, today I also want to encourage you to emancipate yourself too… That's where true empowerment comes from!
What labels have held you back? What are you learning about yourself in the current women's empowerment movement?
Are you finally tired of the stronghold labels have had on you?
Laticia “ Action” Jackson and the N-Powered Coaching Team