In our society, women of color are often hired for positions because employers must demonstrate diversity throughout their organization. For a company to succeed, employees and clients of all backgrounds must feel welcomed to gain support or raise funds. Many companies feel pressured to express their support or opposition by making statements.
For minorities in our society, one of the most difficult things is overcoming stereotypes and feeling accepted for their abilities rather than their appearance. The fight against racial discrimination in our society is accompanied by the fact that women are always perceived as the weaker sex in comparison to men. It was not just a civil rights struggle decades ago, but a fight to enable women to be able to do many of the things men could do, such as vote to bring about a change in our political system. We live in a society where women have a difficult time being accepted, and it is even more difficult when you are a woman of minority trying to gain acceptance rather than being judged solely based on your skin color and the fact that you will not bend to the mere intelligence of men.
While this may be the case, many women of color have been able to establish themselves. They have proven themselves to be qualified and have achieved substantial success in leadership positions. A number of these women either hid in the shadows and waited for the right moment or place to speak their minds, or they were already in the spotlight and using their voice to make a significant impact on their communities. Overall, they stood their ground and received highly deserved positions that they may not have anticipated receiving. They will always be remembered for how much impact they had on many people in our society and around the globe.
Below is a short list that includes women of color who have held powerful positions in our society and women that still hold such positions:
- Shirley Anita Chisholm – was the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress in 1968. In subsequent years, she became the first Black candidate for a major party’s presidential nomination. Between 1969 and 1983, she served seven terms as a representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant.
- Wilma Mankiller – was the Cherokee Nation’s first woman chief from 1985 to 1995. With her victory, she granted the administration the ability to focus on lowering the high unemployment rate and increasing educational opportunities. Furthermore, she initiated the improvement of community health care and the development of the northeastern Oklahoma economy. In creating the Institute for Cherokee Literacy, she stressed the importance of preserving certain Cherokee traditions. Over the course of her lifetime, she fought tirelessly for the rights of women and Native Americans. Bill Clinton, our 42nd president, awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
- Grace Lee Boggs – was a prominent writer who was born to Chinese immigrants. During the 1940s and 1950s, she collaborated extensively with C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya on political issues. As a black Marxist, she collaborated with powerful Black leaders, such as Malcolm X. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, she worked closely with her husband, James Boggs.
- Ava DuVernay – is a well-known American film director and former film publicist. Additionally, she is a writer and producer. Among her many accolades, she was the first African American woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival, nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe, and directed a movie with a budget exceeding $100 million. She is renowned for many iconic films, but two of which she was recognized for were “When They See Us”  and “Selma” . In the history of American box office, she is one of the highest grossing Black female directors.
- Michelle Obama – is widely known as the first African American First Lady of the United States and a notable leader alongside our 44th president, Barack Obama. The couple resided in the White House from 2009 to 2017. In addition to being an American attorney, she is a writer as well. Despite no longer residing in the White House, she continues to serve as a strong voice for the younger generation, demonstrating the importance of education in our society.
- Kamala Harris – is the highest-ranking female official in the United States and the first female vice president. She was previously an American politician and attorney general for the state of California prior to becoming vice president. In addition to being the first female vice president, she is also the first African American and Asian American vice president.
Throughout the decades, these women have had a significant impact on our society. It took these women a great deal of effort and determination to achieve the titles and recognition they deserved in society. Their roles have demonstrated their talent and intelligence. Despite this, these women have shown their diligence, their perseverance and effort. These characteristics made them powerful and influential members of society. Their actions and words make them admirable for us all, and impactful on many lives.
Making a positive contribution to society should not be hindered by your race or gender. Be a strong advocate for your beliefs. Let your voice be heard. In America, we are privileged to have freedom of speech. Women of color have stood up for what they believed in, and they are still recognized to this day for their invaluable contributions. A dream and a voice are all that is necessary to make a difference. Leadership does not always require a company to make a special quota for you because you are Black, Asian, or Latino. To demand respect as a human being, you can be your own leader and stand your ground. What could be more powerful than that?