Historically, our people have understood that "professionalism" is a subjective term that is largely affected by living in a white supremacist patriarchy. The characteristics, attire, and habits of "professionals" are shaped by cultures frequently not our own. As such, many of us struggle with feeling seen, valued, and appreciated in these settings.
Let's be honest with ourselves, the "professional world" can be a relatively hostile place for Black women, however, we can mitigate its negative impacts on us through a deliberate chosen, culturally aligned community.
Here are five ways to form community for Black Women:
Be in the place to be. Connect with others through conferences, meetings, and networking events. Surround yourself with others in your field. Chances are, you'll be better positioned to meet others like you.
Find a mentor. Don't be proud that you fail to seek out guidance from a trusted, proven senior faculty member. It's likely that they know things you may not know about how to navigate the Academy.
Online community matters. Join social media support groups in your field. Don't underestimate the ability to forge authentic relationships this way.
Join the party. Join professional organizations that are doing the work (and are aligned) with your interests. Not everyone in them is going to be "your community," but you may meet some.
Use what you've got. Seek out think tanks or research groups in your area. By contributing to the intellectual thought within your field, you can not only serve to change the beast from the inside out, but you just may meet folks with like-minded thinking as well!
Community does not always come easy. But, we are capable (and deserving) of forming it whenever we choose to.