CUInsight.com | By Shellee A. Mitchell, AACUC
“Black women are the most educated demographic in the U.S. when you look at the number of associate and bachelor degrees earned. But for a number of reasons, their education levels and the financial rewards they receive aren’t aligning, particularly in the business world,” Inc., August 2019.
Credit unions have a broad audience to be a forerunner in diversity equality. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg researched individuals and corporations on the power of habit to either remain in or change a circumstance of any value. Duhigg writes, “Habits are what allow us to “do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.”
African American women have been and are denied. African American women are qualified, when equally provided a space to exist. If society continues to subjugate all women, by emotions and appearance, for African American women there is another view as subordinate shadows to those who helm as dominant leaders. Ritualistic portrayals have recast this role since the early films in silent movies. Caucasian women were delightful and deserved recognition for portrayals of heroism. African American women were present to care for and support the protagonist and applaud her victories. The Caucasian’s victory was portrayed as a collective celebratory win. Only for the Caucasian, came increase and prosperity and for the African American, the consolation that once again her insight has elevated yet another soul. Current controversy in the major film industry is a public demonstration of years of repetitive misrepresentation and inequality.
One reason to consider this revolving issue is Cultivation Analysis. Cultivation Analysis is a communication theory, created by George Gerbner and Larry Gross in 1976. The research of Gerbner & Gross states that people form their opinions and consciousness is shaped, by transmittal and ritualistic portrayals in television (media) messages that attempt to mimic social beliefs. These messages, often exaggerated, are misguided from true individual and social reality.
Cultivation Analysis has messaged that African American, Black, women are good because of selflessness, strength, unending nurturing (even as single mom) who sacrifice for the whole with the benefit of teaching and living by a moral code. African American women too, are not immune to media messages and fall prey to the portrayal of her place in society.
In melancholy, is the state of the African American woman. She too has entrusted the ritualistic message and succumb to mediocrity. Cultivation Analysis has shown many generations that the world is limited to such a “Person of Color.” The message not only resonates through television and film, but takes course in household dialogue, educational infrastructures, and professional ambitions. Families, parents, teachers, influencers, bosses remind the African American woman to hold her place and be thankful for her portion.
Subliminally, viewers ingest television, bulletins, banners, and advertisements, where the African American woman is in the background, standing at the edge of the picture, or sitting to scribe with a Caucasian who stands. The misgiving these messages transmit to cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, and genders are that African American women are not the best, not the lead, not to behold, not corporate, not to corner office, not to executive, and the message revolves.
As credit unions advance in the financial industry as people serving people (P1), perhaps implementing Principle 8: Diversity & Inclusion (P8), suggests that African American women are leaders, executives, senior managers, board members, and board chair. Maybe it’s an opportunity to consider Black women’s tenacious ability to endure consistent debasement with a smile, fortitude to manage a home with lesser pay, determination for African American children to achieve higher education, and to work with integrity and collaboration despite the inner turmoil that she carries because another Black male or female has been killed by a civic protector. Phenomenally, these skills can be transferred into corporate success measures, if given the chance to be seen from a different lens.
Published article available here.