“Black women love a piece of paper,” said my sister as we were walking early one morning. She wasn’t talking about money - though of course proper remuneration is always welcome - but about certificates of educational achievement.
She wasn’t wrong.
As a group, Black women tend to be educational overachievers, always seeking to do more and better. I’m a case in point. I have two Master’s degrees. The first one was by choice, and the second came about because I had to do a postgrad certificate in teaching and learning when I went to work for Coventry University. Since I was already one third of the way to a Master’s, I decided to complete it. That’s how we roll.
For many Black communities (I can speak knowledgeably about my own, but I’m told it’s much the same in other countries), education is the ticket to a better life. For Black women, who are almost universally disrespected and overlooked, it’s a must.
I may have told you this story before, but someone I know was discussing education with work colleagues. When she mentioned she had a Master’s degree, every head swiveled round and one person said with surprise and shock: “You have a Master’s?” To her, it was unthinkable that “the little Black girl” should be more qualified than she was.
Overqualified Yet Underpaid
Most Black women will have the experience at some time in their careers - and some, throughout their careers - of being dictated to and condescended to by people much less qualified and experienced than they are. They will have suffered from being overworked, underpaid, and disrespected by white colleagues and bosses.