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7 Orgs & Resources To Boost Your Black Girl (Career) Magic

Network, learn, and grow by connecting with women in tech, business, healthcare, and more.

Workin' Girl

We all know that social distancing is still necessary (since Covid-19 is far from becoming a distant memory), but the importance of connecting with other like-minded women remains, especially if you want to advance professionally and personally. Being able to dynamically interact with others is not only great for your career, but it's also good for your mental health. (Sis, just check out the researched benefits of socializing.)

If you've found yourself in a career rut or missing the opportunity to bond with amazing women in your field, here are 7 organizations and platforms that will help you reconnect and live your best life:

xoNecole

The xoTribe

Kick off your networking upgrade with a boss move that is sure to get you on the right track. Launched by Necole Kane, the phenom behind providing xoNecole.com, an online oasis where women can unapologetically tell their stories and find information useful to every facet of their lives, the xoTribe is great place to get access a community of women from diverse backgrounds, industries, and locales for networking and mentoring. Virtual happy hours, giveaways, job postings, and insider info on events---it's all a great recipe to set your 2021 glow-up plan off in the best way.

ColorComm

If you're a woman of color in any aspect of the communications industry, the ColorComm network is for you. One can't help but be inspired by its founder, Lauren Wesley Wilson, who has worked as a Washington, D.C. communications director, a media booker for Obama's Florida reelection campaign, and a crisis firm professional before launching ColorComm. Something that initially started as a lunch with more than 30 women turned into an organization that now serves more than 40,000 professionals in chapters across the U.S. and produces more than 100 local programs yearly.

Image via Walker's Legacy

Walker's Legacy

As the name denotes, Walker's Legacy was founded on the ideals of Madam C.J. Walker's legacy of being self-made, supporting women's advocacy, and promoting sheer hard work and determination. Founder Natalie Madeira Cofield sought to fill a need she saw in her own life while seeking mentors for her first venture---which she launched at 26---and she built the platform from a quarterly lecture series into a global platform of support for multicultural corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. The organization partners to provide funds for startups, has chapters in major regions, and hosts accelerator programs.

The Muse

The Muse is super-expansive, providing step-by-step guides not only for job seekers, but for professionals at various stages of their careers---from entry-level workers, to freelancers, to management executives. You can also research companies and career options, find employment opportunities and get help via resume reviews, coaching consultations and job search strategy sessions.

Image via Her Agenda

Her Agenda

With a motto like "No one Ever Slows Her Agenda," you know this platform is all about ambition and boss moves. You can find inspiration and advice through stories told by real women who are industry leaders and aren't just offering tips that just sound good. Her Agenda also provides resources including information on conferences, scholarships, internships and job opportunities for millennials interested in a variety of fields. Founded by savvy communicator, networker and millennial boss Rhonesha Byng, this is a digital space you won't want to miss out on. (The newsletter alone provides key information for any go-getter including a monthly grants roundup, a Power Hour online chat with business experts, and exclusive Q&As with industry leaders.)

The Cru

The name almost speaks for itself since we all know the power of having a good crew---whether it's a solid group of friends, a bond of tight siblings, or a professional team. The Cru provides peer coaching services in a unique way that tailors networking and career support via circles of women based on their personality, demographics, values, and life goals. Founder Tiffany Dufu is no stranger to innovating in networking and mentorship, having served as a launch team member to Lean In and a Chief Leadership Officer at Levo, a leading millennial professionals network.

The WIE Suite

Made up of influential women who have either led teams at major corporations or started their own successful businesses, The WIE Suite is a highly curated membership worth exploring. It began as the WIE Symposium, a modern, elite women's conference that expanded into an organization that attracted business and cultural leaders including Arianna Huffington, Mellody Hobson, Diane von Furstenberg, Nancy Pelosi and Naomi Campbell. Founder Dee Poku has held senior marketing roles at companies including Paramount Pictures and Focus Features and has a knack for forging quality connections among power women across industries. She also has a passion for the power of sponsorship, an act that goes well beyond mentoring. As a member, you can access professional development resources, peer coaching opportunities, and curated content.

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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