The disrespectful and condescending treatment of two prominent black women in the U.S. has sparked a global hashtag campaign about everyday racism.
On Tuesday, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly said he couldn’t listen to Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ latest speech about Trump because of her hair, which he called “a wig.” Later that day, U.S. Press Secretary Sean Spicer told veteran journalist April Ryan to “stop shaking her head” in response to an answer he gave.
Women around the world have since been sharing their “Maxine and April moments,” using the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork to highlight the everyday reality faced by black women.
Activist Brittany Packnett kicked off the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork “so people don’t think this is rare.”
“It isnt new. It is the daily experience of black women in the work place at all levels laid bare for the public to finally see with naked eyes,” Packnett told Mashable. “These women at least deserve respect as humans, let alone as professionals. They received neither. It is absolutely unacceptable. They deserve the respect that their humanity, their accomplishments, and their work demands.”
Today, we were told a Black woman’s hair matters more than her voice, and our choices are under the control of others.
Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) March 28, 2017
“Every day we are told that our body language is wrong, that both our silence and our speaking are ‘combative,’ that our mere presence is intimidating, that our looks matter more than our work, that our natural hair is ‘unprofessional,’ that we couldnt possibly have attained our station by our merits, are looked over and ignored, or endure a worse pay gap than our white women counterparts,” said Packnett.
“It happens to black women of every station, whether were wage earners or pull in high salaries, whether we are domestic workers or in the C-suite. Black women have been at work since the dawn of this nation and have worked ourselves to the bone. We deserve dignity and respect. We have earned no less. No matter what, we will show it to ourselves and each other,” Packnett said.
Hundreds of women took to Twitter sharing their experiences. For example, women working in academia talked about prejudice in the workplace.
Some women talked about their coworkers underestimating their qualifications.
True Blood actor Jurnee Smollett talked about her experience of discrimination in Hollywood.
Some of the tweets revealed the assumptions made about black women’s level of seniority in their roles.
One woman tweeted that a white colleague used the N-word in her presence, claiming that it was fine because rappers use the word.
A lot of women shared stories in which colleagues made inappropriate and racist remarks about their hair.
Maxine Waters responded to the incident with O’Reilly, tweeting a powerful statement alongside the hashtag, stating she’s “not going anywhere.”
“Ive met Congresswoman Waters and worked with April Ryan it was like someone came for my aunties.They laid the groundwork for so many of us,” said Brittany Packnett. “We will love and support one another especially when others don’t.Period.”