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Opinion/Letter: Women of color face hurdles in leadership

Opinion/Letter: Women of color face hurdles in leadership

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Women of color face hurdles in leadership

Apropos of the upcoming departure of Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker and the dismissal of Chief of Police RaShall Brackney, a fresh look at “The Problem Woman of Color” graphic is warranted. It’s been out there in cyberspace for years.

It depicts the WOC invited into a predominantly white organization, wherein white leadership trips over its feet welcoming her. A honeymoon ensues. Every word dropped from WOC’s mouth is a pearl. She is lionized, lauded. Leadership cries: “Smart! Articulate!”

Given the expressed level of support, WOC goes around doing what she thought she was hired to do: She points out pain points here, problems there; suggests solutions within the organization’s policies; exercises her perceived sovereignty to attempt to hold the organization accountable for doing what it said it wanted to do when it hired her.

Therein, according to Shakespeare, lies the rub.

Backtracking ensues. Pushback crowds in. Whispers reach leadership’s ears.

Suddenly, no one seems to know what WOC is talking about. The backtrackers don’t see that particular issue, that aspect of supposed problems. Some of them weren’t around when the original problems were being identified.

Now leadership thinks: Who is she, Houdini? Creating conflict out of thin air?

Even other WOCs deeply vested in the organization don’t see a problem.

Who does WOC think she is, coming in and riling folks up? She is the problem. Notice that her reports are always late? Hear that strident ring in her voice?

She’s never on time. Why can’t she be civil? Staffers just can’t communicate with her. She’s not a good fit, not the right person for the job.

And even if the organization does ail, isn’t it her job to cure it? Without all this fuss?

Eventually the targeting does what it is supposed to do. WOC leaves under her own steam (Mayor Walker) or with a good healthy kick to the tuchis (Chief Brackney).

I live in Albemarle. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t know the mayor or the chief. But I can spot organizational patterns when I see them.

Phylissa Mitchell

Albemarle County

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