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Today’s Black Women

How do we define America’s Black woman today?  What comes to mind when we say “Today’s Black Woman?  There are two perceptions of today’s Black woman; one very positive and the other very negative.  The positive perception of Black women clearly reveals that Black women are the backbone and champion of their family and the Black community in general.  They have made tremendous progress with respect to economic, business, entertainment and educational attainment.

In the realm of business ownership, Black women have made incredible gains with respect to business ownership.  Black women entrepreneurs make up the fastest-growing segment of business ownership in America.   According to a 2012 Center for American Progress “The State of Women of Color in the United States Report,” Black women are starting businesses at a rate that is three to five times the rate of the general population. The report also reveals that one half of all Black owned business are owned by women.  Sales that is generated by the business have more than doubled during the past decade and is estimated to be roughly $45 billion.

The gains achieved by Black entrepreneur women are essential to developing economic opportunities for other Black women. Studies show 1) Black women are the head od the household in a large number of single parent families; 2) that approximately 53.3 per of wives are the bread winners among Black married households. Thus, expansion of Black women owned business is crucial to the economic well-being of the Black community overall.

Black women are also making their mark on America’ culture. Most noteworthy, of course, is Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States. She is a lawyer and writer and the wife of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States.  She gives hope to young Black women.  Other accomplished Black women include 1) Candalezza Rice, former Secretary of State of the United States.  She was the first Black woman appointed this prestigious position. 2) Susan Rice, U. S ambassador. 3) Leah Ward Sears, the first Black woman and the youngest person appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court. 4) Denise Young Smith Human Resource Director at Apple Software, 5) Kimberly Stone, founder and CEO of Poshglam.co, 6) Erica Nicole, founder and CEO of YFS (Young, Black, and Self-employed) Magazine, 7) Twenty-six year old Corvida Raven, creator of ShwGeeks.com, 8) Ajilli Hardy, first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 9) Oprah Winfrey, 10) Beyoncé, Scandal’s very sensuous  star Kerry Washington and many others.

However, the media have played and will continue to play a compelling role in the way Black women are perceived and portrayed.  To some, the welfare queen stereotype still dominates mainstream perception of Black women. This is the image many young Black women are accustomed to and the image that is constantly depicted in the media, be it on reality television or in music videos.  The media focuses on the negative things Black women are depicted as being involved with: drug, crime, violence, etc.   They are often described as an obnoxious, angry, finger snapping and head rolling beast who is only concerned with today…what’s happening now.   They seek attention, approval and validation in all the wrong places. This image is chosen from many and is consistently used to perpetuate a stereotype that tend to go on and affect an entire group.

The reality is Black women are strong, compassionate, intelligent and creative.  Lorraine O’Grady, Black feminist theorist and artist writes, “To name ourselves rather than be named, we must first see ourselves.”  The challenge for some Black women is “How can we bridge the gap between how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves?”  It is often said perception is reality.  Hopefully, by the time they mature, they will begin to realize how important and how powerful a positive perception can be.

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