Holding Space for Black Voices
Over the last month or so, BOSS Talk has gotten some pretty amazing press coverage - so in light of that attention, I want to share a piece of my entrepreneurial heart with y’all. When I founded BOSS Talk back in 2018, I knew that I wanted more. I wanted more from my networking experience. Not only did I want to know more about the real life experiences of the entrepreneurs that would be featured, their failures, lessons learned, success tips, their fears, their magic - I also wanted more connection and more acceptance.
I remember having a conversation with a fellow black female entrepreneur after the very first BOSS Talk. She remarked that although BOSS Talk isn’t an exclusively black networking community, she still felt like she belonged there.
When I heard her words, I knew exactly what she meant.
As a speaker and business owner, I’ve gone to and engaged in a lot of networking events here in AZ, and to be candid, most of the events I’ve attended are very white and in my experience, not always very welcoming.
The marketing images usually only show white women. The featured speakers are usually white or a full panel of only white women. The attendees are mostly white. None of this really indicates that my #blackgirlmagic will be celebrated when I walk into the room of those events.
So, why didn’t I focus on cultivating a black networking community when I was laying the foundation of BOSS Talk? There are two main reasons. One, because there are already local organizations here in the Valley doing that work, like Black Women of Arizona (BWA) led by Phay Dee, Mind Your Black Owned Business led by Star Morrison and Black Girls Brunch led by Gaybrielle Gant. One of my core beliefs is collaboration over competition. So instead of competing with my sisters, I lend my support to their visions and I celebrate their wins. The other is that I wanted to build an inclusive, welcoming and supportive community for all women entrepreneurs - I mean, I get paid by women of every race under the sun, so it only made sense for me to create something that publicly supports all of them too. Don't miss the message there. I know what it’s like to walk into a room, all eyes, all attention, all focus on me and to feel completely isolated simply because of the way I look. I don’t want anybody else to feel that way, especially not women that look like me.
Because let’s not forget - I AM a black women entrepreneur.
And while an array of women have been featured speakers, as the founder and current host of BOSS Talk, it gives me extreme amounts of joy to highlight and feature the entrepreneurial journeys of other black women! Far too often our genius and voices go unnoticed and unheard - but that’s not the BOSS Talk way.
Black women will always have a seat at any table that I build - because I know what it’s like to not have an invitation to sit at one. It’s baked into the culture of BOSS Talk to hold space and learn from each story shared, the good, the bad and the real - and sometimes the real includes topics that are uncomfortable to talk about like burnout, failure and racism. But it’s the uncomfortable conversations that bring about perspective shifts, so we’ll never back down from having them. Over the next several weeks I’ll be reintroducing some of the BOSS Talks that have already taken place - if you’ve never attended a BOSS Talk session, this will be a great time to hold space for voices that may have never heard from before and familiarize yourself with some amazing women in the marketplace. And to my white colleagues that host networking groups, training and conferences, here are a few takeaways to act on IF it is your intention to reach and serve the black community:
1 - Let’s talk. Reach out to your black colleagues and networking connections and talk about the representation gaps in the marketplace. My calendar is always open and you can find it HERE.
2 - Look at your marketing. If you want us there, at least make an effort to show us IN your marketing. People do business with those they know, like and trust - it’s hard to do any of those things if it appears that you don’t even see us.
3 - Look at your speaker lineup. If you WANT to hear our voices, do your part to include us in your programing and on your platform.