Nothing stings at your confidence quite like being underestimated, underserved and cast out in work spaces you thought you'd grow in and acknowledged your worth. And there's no formal education or amount of money that makes this hard truth any less real for black women.
I remember the moment I first experienced this during my last year of college at my internship in features news writing with a notable media company. I was elated for the position and worked 9 AM-4 PM without a lunch break and after hours as needed. Despite my excitement on the inside, I quickly learned to contain it on the outside. No one talked to each other – or at least to me.
I said "good morning" to my supervisor and cube neighbor, but no one else even made eye contact with me unless it was necessary.
A month into my internship, an editor finally acknowledged me to write an article. She introduced herself but stared at me, confused by my presence as the only black woman on the floor. She immediately asked if I had any writing experience (duh, that's how I landed this internship), where I was originally from and what school I went to. When I proudly said my HBCU of Morgan State University, she curled her lips as a sign of the official "aha, there's the deficit I was looking for" and said, "Yeah, I was there the other day to talk to a few students, it seems like no one really knows how to read or write, like there's not a lot of education on communications there."
I let her comment roll off my shoulder and went to WORK on my writing assignment to show my value.
And it worked – I landed on the web cover page and received compliments throughout the department. But this didn't last long. One of the interviewees called and complained that I mixed up a location venue she was at. I had the actual interview recording to prove that the location was correct, however the editor said to not worry about it and she'd "clean up" the situation.
I went on to write other stories, but on my last week at the internship, I overheard the editor talking to another staff writer that she couldn't see me working long-term with the company if I was already having issues fact-checking. And just like that, any chance I had of staying in the department was tarnished. I never returned, but the effects this experience had on my self-esteem were lasting. I wondered why I was being punished so harshly for a misunderstanding, and why one single incident trumped all the other work I'd done.
Unfortunately, this was not my last encounter of implicit bias. I continued to have work projects overlooked or called out on for their errors, was left out of social conversations and viewed as "not enough," and I soon learned of its commonality. A 2018 Women in The Workplace report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. found that 40% of black women stated that they've had their judgement questioned in their area of expertise. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect an individual's understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious matter.
We know we're the office outliers, but despite this, a 2019 Catalyst report found that 88% of black women wanted to remain in the same organization, 87% wanted to be an influential leader and 81% were working towards a high ranking position.
So, what do we do when we still want a piece of the pie?
Know That Nothing Is Wrong With You
Someone else's misperception of you does not define who you are and the value you add. Do not doubt your work and your capabilities.
It can be difficult to believe in yourself when no one else does, but it's at this time you need to douse yourself in love from within. Start your morning with daily affirmations that speak to your soul. Set daily reminders on your phone with uplifting quotes to remind yourself of all that you are.
Still Use Your Voice – With A Nice Nasty!
Reports show that 35% black women feel like their managers create opportunities to showcase their work compared to 43% of white women. Furthermore, 22% of black women reported they often had their work contributions ignored.
Your voice and thoughts are still powerful, so continue to empower yourself to address issues in your office.
And, don't be too humble to be what I call the "nice nasty". Trust, when you "unconsciously" do to people what they're "unconsciously" doing to you, they get the picture. If someone asks if you need help on an assignment that is clearly in your expertise already, ask them if they need help with something they're doing. You'll both be surprised by their reaction.
Get Involved In Employee Resource Groups Or Create One
Diversity isn't just about checking the box, but providing tools and opportunities for inclusion to really include everyone. Employee resource groups (ERG's) are employer-recognized groups of employees who share the concerns of common race, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. These groups are intended to enhance the employee experience and when done right, should lead to developmental opportunities for your group.
If diversity and inclusion and ERG's are not being properly recognized at your job, there's bound to be someone you can connect with for social support.
Plan Your Next Move
The realism is your work culture of implicit bias may not change. If you recognize this and find yourself unhappy, unsatisfied and underserved, then it's time to move on. While it may be frustrating to get back up in the saddle, you deserve to be in a space that uplifts, encourages and values what you bring to the table. Your voice matters!
Featured image by Getty Images
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The Return Of The Supper Club Served With A Side Of Black Girl Magic
When Winter Baxter and Kelsey Beckford, co-founders of BeckzBax Supper Club, step into a restaurant, heads turn. It's impossible to miss Winter’s close crop cut and Kelsey’s flowing braids, both with glowing smiles that radiate genuine warmth and confidence. But, it’s not just the two that cause eyes to redirect from glasses of wine and exotic dishes, it's their entire party. The Spelman sisters turned best friends are also flanked by 10 to 15 Black women when they are all escorted to their table.
To many, the concept seems simple- a group of friends out to dinner- but the experiences of the BeckzBax Supper Club are anything but ordinary. This supper club delivers everything from private dining rooms to specialty curated menus with incredible dishes prepared just for them and table visits from the chefs, all in some of New York’s most exclusive and hottest eateries. The New York-based supper club has set its sight on delivering a dining experience that seeks to thrill with its adventurous palette and return to the social aspect of dining. Crafting unabashed moments of sincerity and candidacy with the people seated right beside you and social media posting saved for later.
The founders of the supper club designed by and for Black women dished to xoNecole about the courses they serve before the waiter even places the first dish down.
xoNecole: You are both native New Yorkers, the crossroads of the globe that’s home to a diverse array of cultures and with that, a dining scene that’s unparalleled. How did your childhood fuel your passion for food?
BeckzBax: When you're a city kid in New York, you really learn that going out to dinner or lunch is the thing to do. It's our culture to try out new food in restaurants. So since we were children, we saw how the restaurants and many neighborhoods were changed due to gentrification and how we lost a lot of authentic New York folks, whether they were Senegalese, Italian, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, [or] African-American. Now a lot of the neighborhoods are just whitewashed and toned down.
So now there are restaurants that are bringing back culture, and we want to experience that.
xoN: How did BeckzBax make it from the group chat to a now highly sought-after event?
BeckzBax: Last summer in 2022, we were out at Moko, which is our favorite Omakase restaurant in the city. We had a 15-course meal, and we loved it. It was such a cool experience. But we looked around and realized we were the only two Black women in the space. We thought it would be more fun and a more fulfilling experience if we can dine in bigger groups.
I feel like a lot of people are trying to rediscover how they want to be social, definitely because of lockdown and just getting older. We have friends who are now sober, friends who don't like going out to clubs, and everybody is doing brunch. So we asked ourselves, “What else is there to do?” We came up with the supper club and focused on dinner because you always need to eat!
xoN: In just a year you have carved out a very unique identity for your supper club. Why do you think so many Black women gravitate toward your events?
BeckzBax: This is not a girl-boss event. This is really just, 'Hey, it's Tuesday night. Are you alone in the city? Do you need company? Do you need a sister? Do you need a friend, even if it’s just for a couple of hours?' We have seen how it really helps people feel like they are safe and supported.
We really appreciate that people give us that honor and privilege of coming to our events by themselves because they feel safe enough that they'll be received and treated with honesty and respect.
xoN: What is it like being a group of Black women occupying restaurant spaces that typically caters to a different crowd?
BeckzBax: We are here to disrupt the hospitality industry in the way that it operates because right now, there are a lot of things that people are not talking about. People are not being transparent about when it comes to having a good time out at dinner at some of these fine dining restaurants.
The treatment from the door is very different. If they don't know that we are the supper club that's booked for the private dinner, they assume that it's not us.
xoN: What ideas are you trying to dismantle with your supper club?
BeckzBax: The gatekeeping! There’s no gatekeeping food. It's food, it's an ingredient whether it's a tomato or a truffle. Everyone deserves to try and have new things.
xoN: What has surprised you the most about the restaurants since you’ve started?
BeckzBax: Our attendees are really shocked to find out that a Black woman is behind the menu and has curated this entire experience in a number of upscale restaurants.
That's what we want to highlight: we are the ones behind the success of a lot of these restaurants. Whether or not we are in the room… we are in the kitchen, and nobody talks about that. We're in the kitchen, so we deserve to be in this space just as much as everybody else does.
xoN: Wow! So how do the chefs react when they see your group in their restaurants, especially when you both don’t reflect the makeup of the restaurants you attend?
BeckzBax: We’ve been told it's liberating for the chefs. They don't often get to flex their own muscles very much. They're restricted to their menu and what their clients want. BeckzBax Supper Club allows them the space and freedom to really show what they're capable of.
Instead of repeatedly making the same ten dishes, they can offer seasonal options, and the chef is really allowed to show the fullness of what they can do.
xoN: What about the people that say, “Hey, I can go out to dinner with friends on my own.” What is it that BeckzBax brings to the table… literally?
BeckzBax: You are not going to have the same experience solo that we are able to curate for you. It’s impossible because we take the time to build relationships with chefs, owners, and general managers to provide a very specific experience for our members.
What sets BeckzBax apart is the point of breaking bread together. We've lost the art of socializing without it being for a reason like a birthday or networking. We’re not about a certain aesthetic. Everyone is there because they actually want to come, sit down, have dinner, and have real conversations. They want to get candid and share their life. Whatever you need, and it happens over food.
xoN: How can xoNecole readers join the supper club? Are you all accepting new members?
BeckzBax: Yes! If you’re interested in joining, email us at email@example.com. We’ll send you a welcome email and explain the full process of joining, including how the club works and membership fees and dues. If you want to do a trial run before joining, we also have mini-series events that are usually cocktail hours so you can get to know us and meet current members.
xoN: Do you have any plans to expand BeckzBaz outside of New York?
BeckzBax: We’re going international! Japan is at the top of the list, and our goal is to do world tours, with the food being the basis of it all. This summer we’re also expanding domestically, if you’re in D.C., Philly, California, or Atlanta, keep your eyes open!
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Featured image courtesy of BeckzBax Supper Club