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I write about my learnings and experience regarding race, female empowerment, representation and leadership.

RACE AND WORK

Things to consider when deciding whether and what to reveal of yourself at work

woman in blue hijab smiling
woman in blue hijab smiling

Bringing your whole self to work is about owning your story, also in the workplace. I find it interesting when organisations encourage their employees to bring their whole selves to work. I wonder if they know what exactly they are asking, and whether they are ready for it. In the past months, as many of us work from home, we have had a small look into our colleagues personal life, where they live, and who they live with. Bringing your whole self to work means making that window broader; showing who you are, where you come from, and what you…


RACE AND MONEY

It wasn’t an easy journey.

Today I’m celebrating my first year of (financial) freedom. The moment that I finally got to feel, and to be, a part of the middle class. This is my life’s greatest achievement so far. You see, where I come from it takes eleven generations (that is, eleven lifetimes) for a person in the lowest income level to approach the median income in their society. It is remarkable that it took me one. This celebration moment in my personal life, and this staggering fact about social mobility, made me reflect on the role race plays in keeping people at the bottom…


RACE AND CASTE

When we talk about ‘race’ we actually mean taught social rules and stereotypes linked to physical features. Not physical features only.

Race is a social construct. If you have been paying attention, you should know by now that genetic differences based on what part of the world your ancestry comes from exist. However, the social rules derived from the way you look and where you come from, which assign you a place in society, are something someone made up. It is made up by those in power who get to determine the rules of the game to make sure they win.

According to research, human life began in Africa, which is why it is called the cradle of humankind. Researchers found…


RACISM IN THE NETHERLANDS

Are cultural traditions more important than dismantling harmful racist practices and symbols?

The month of November is a very special time in the Netherlands. It’s the moment of the year in which Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas in English, arrives in the country and brings presents and sweets to kids. It is a magical moment for Dutch families and children because throughout generations they have believed in this magical character bringing joy into their lives. It’s comparable, and just as important, to Christmas celebrations in other countries.

I arrived in the Netherlands seven years ago and I wasn’t familiar with the celebration. I was a bit confused about how the Dutch celebrated “Christmas” earlier…


RACE AND FEMINISM

Not all women are white and not all Black people are men.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. A historical moment, only that it is not totally accurate. It is the 100th anniversary of white women’s right to vote. Black women in the US were only able to vote when the Voting Right Act passed in 1965. After getting the right to vote in the beginning of the twentieth century, white women did not vote differently from white men, and this has stayed constant throughout history. This may also explain why the majority of white women (53%) supported Donald Trump. …


RACE AND STORYTELLING

Magical Negroes only purpose is to help and assist the White hero

Movies telling Black stories have been gaining more attention. ‘12 Years a Slave (2013)’, ‘Moonlight (2016)’, and the controversial ‘Green Book (2018)’ went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture in their respective years. This is certainly an increase in representation in comparison to the null amount of Black stories that won in the decade before. Given the clear increase in quantity, it is also good to think about the quality of those representations.

The last decade has seen the rise of empowering content told by Black storytellers. They brought us Blackness from a Black perspective; think of movies…


It’s more than hair and beauty, it’s about identity

I have been torturing my hair and skull for the last eighteen years. Every week my hair routine consisted of a full day of hair creams followed by an hour of applying heat with a hair dryer and half hour of hair iron. My goal was to look beautiful to others, and in order to achieve that my hair needed to be straight.

Working from home for the past months made me reflect on the way I look, not to others, but especially to myself. Because of the decreased pressure of looking good while working from home, I stopped straightening…


THE BLACK FEMALE TROPE VOL. III

This article is the third, and last, in the series of ‘The Black Female Trope’. In this series, I reflect on the three stereotypes Black women have historically been reduced to: Mammy, Jezebel, and Sapphire. The series is inspired by the research of Melissa V. Harris-Perry and her book Sister Citizen. Find the first article here, and the second one here.

Ebony, the code word for Black in porn sites, was the second most searched phrase in the United States according to the site PornHub in 2018. Porn categories “latina”, “ebony”, and “interracial” were viewed significantly more often in the US than in the rest of the world. That same year, “Black girl, White guy” was the most searched term in the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Isn’t this ironic, considering the historic racism in the country and those states specifically? Not if you look closer.

During the time of slavery, the hyper-sexuality myth…


THE BLACK FEMALE TROPE VOL. II

This article is the second in the series of ‘The Black Female Trope’. In this series, I reflect on the three stereotypes Black women have historically been reduced to: Mammy, Jezebel, and Sapphire. The series is inspired by the research of Melissa V. Harris-Perry and her book Sister Citizen. Find the first article here.

Strong is one of the most common words used to describe Black women. Another word used to describe them: angry. But there is more behind those two simple adjectives that have now been upgraded to stereotypes used to describe Black women. ‘Strong’ and ‘angry’ are loaded words when they are used for referring to Black women. Are Black women as strong as they are told to be, and are they as angry as they are perceived?

In my previous article I analysed the Mammy myth. The first stereotype of my ‘Black female trope’ series. The Mammy myth reduces Black women’s…


THE BLACK FEMALE TROPE VOL. I

This article is the first one of ‘The Black Female Trope’ series. In this series, I reflect on the three stereotypes Black women have historically been reduced to: Mammy, Jezebel, and Sapphire. The series is inspired by the research of Melissa V. Harris-Perry and her book Sister Citizen.

Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman”. Research shows that he was right. Not only in the United States, African descendent women in western societies live in a constant struggle to fit in a system that is designed to exclude them. In her book Sister Citizen, Melissa V. Harris-Perry called this system a “crooked room”.

The analogy of the crooked room refers to a research on cognitive psychology about how people locate the…

Mala.Mulata

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