Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So--What Can We Do?

Many of the bloggers and blog posters have reached a consensus: we as conscious BW must confront the forces in the media that continue to marginalize and stereotype us, whoever they may be.

The question then becomes, as many posters have asked, how? I think knockoutchick and Evia have provided excellent answers that deserve highlighting:

knockoutchick says:

WE have the power as Gina over at (What About Our Daughters?) WAOD has shown. All of us can effect change in our own worlds. For instance we can suggest a black girl as local beauty queen in our towns. Choose a black girl to mentor. Tell little black girls they are beautiful. Question the news cycle sole focus on the perils of WW only. And most importantly, stop buying products and services from those that belittle us.

And Evia again points out the crucial role of bloggers in spreading the word:

I find that a lot of bw don't even know about the various events going on in the country that might or do impact us negatively because they don't know where to go to get the info. So, in terms of products and services, we need one or two people to set up a blog or site that provides info about these products and services that belittle us--kind of like a bw's 'defamation clearinghouse' where we could all go to get info about people, products, and services that defame us. When the info is scattered, sistas just don't have time to look for it.

Please don't discount the importance of opening up another line of communication as a means of empowerment. I can provide a recent example from my own field that shows how fast and effective spreading the word and expediting a response can be in making change:

Cleary Gottlieb has a bad hair day - Talk about a Glamour don't.
Vivia Chen/The American LawyerAugust 27, 2007

It seemed like a nice frothy summer treat for some hardworking gals at a hard-driving law firm . . . the women lawyers group at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton invited an editor from Glamour magazine. The topic: the dos and don'ts of corporate fashion.

First slide up: an African-American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the Glamour editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was "shocking" that some people still think it "appropriate" to wear those hairstyles at the office. "No offense," she sniffed, but those "political" hairstyles really have to go.

By the time the lights flicked back on, some Cleary lawyers -- particularly the 10 or so African-American women in attendance -- were in a state of disbelief. "It was like she was saying you shouldn't go out with your natural hair, and if you do, you're making a political statement," says one African-American associate. "It showed a general cluelessness about black women and their hair."

The episode also produced a "mixed reaction" along racial lines, says this associate. "Some [whites] didn't understand what the big deal was ... but all the black associates saw the controversy."

Cleary Gottlieb's managing partner, Mark Walker, who heard about the incident from some of the attendees, also saw trouble. Soon after the event, Walker issued an e-mail that denounced the hair commentary as "racially insensitive, inappropriate, and wrong." Calling the beauty advice "appalling," Walker says, "You don't tell people that their physical appearance is unacceptable, when certain characteristics are associated with a racial group." He asks, "What's the alternative? Straighten or bleach your hair?"

As for the identity of the editor, neither Cleary Gottlieb nor Condé Nast Publications Inc. (publisher of Glamour) would say. Indeed, almost all of the half-dozen Glamour editors contacted for this story professed not to have ever set foot in a law firm. "Cleary what?" asked several.

And Walker says he has no idea whether the editor who sparked all this controversy is a well-known fashionista. Not that Walker would know, even if Anna Wintour herself crossed his path. "Who is she?" Walker asks. "I really don't know people in the fashion industry." (If you have to ask, she's the editor of Vogue.)

So did the Glamour editor realize how many feathers she ruffled? Walker says that the speaker was "spoken to by one of the women partners" and that she sent an e-mail apology. "I assume she was oblivious; I doubt she's racist," says Walker. "She wasn't thinking and said something hare-brained."
Or is that hair-brained?

Bloggers Fan the Fury Over Hairstyle Advice to Cleary's African-American Lawyers
Vivia ChenThe American LawyerAugust 27, 2007
Geeky Wall Street law firms don't usually make the style pages. But Cleary Gottlieb has become a fixture on at least a dozen hipster blogs -- including gawker.com and jezebel.com -- in recent weeks.


As reported in the August issue of The American Lawyer, sparks flew after a Glamour magazine beauty editor spoke at the firm's women's luncheon this summer. The editor's edict that black lawyers avoid Afros and dreadlocks infuriated the firm's African-American lawyers.

Judging by the traffic on the blogs, that fury has spilled well beyond the halls of Cleary Gottlieb. One reason for the strong reaction is that the issue of hair style has long been a hot button topic for African-American professional women. "Whether you let your hair go natural or straighten is a very touchy subject," says one black female partner at a New York firm.
Though Cleary hosted the event, Glamour is getting most of the heat. "I'll never buy Glamour again," was a typical refrain in the blogs. Not surprisingly, Glamour is engaged in damage control. In an e-mail statement to The American Lawyer, the fashion magazine repudiated the beauty advice, and characterized the editor as a "junior staffer" who spoke "without her supervisor's knowledge or approval." Moreover, the statement said that Glamour has a "longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity."

Many of the blog commentators, however, think that the fashion community could learn some style points from big law firms. Wrote one blogger: "I suspect that the Glamour editor had no freakin' idea that law firms are far more accepting places these days than the mainstream fashion world."

Law firms cooler than the fashion world? Imagine that
.

Just that fast the word got out--and just that fast, Glamour faced a backlash that they knew they would have to respond to. We still need to know who this "editor" was, and we need to continue to hold Glamour's feet to the fire (along with Vogue and Cosmopolitan and all the rest)for their persistence in maintaining a discrimnatory and exclusionary status quo that considers BW's natural hair, natural skin color, natural features, natural existence "political" and "inappropriate" for their pages--though they certainly welcome our dollars.

Whoever can start the "anti-defamation clearinghouse" will have plenty of support from all of us. But, of course, as knockoutchick noted, there are so many actions we can each take now. Write Glamour an email, making it clear that your natural hair is not a "political statement," and cc: three of their major advertisers. Call your local station and ask them if they're planning a story on Stepha Henry. Keep reading and posting to these blogs so that you're aware of what's going on, and can share your knowledge with us even if you can't start a blog of your own. It all starts with communication!

31 comments:

pioneervalleywoman said...

Greetings, Aimee!

This garbage about Glamour is beyond ridiculous.

I have worn a natural hairstyle for the past 15 years, and I never had any complaints from any employer that I was "unprofessional."

I just contacted Glamour. Here is the link:

http://www.glamour.com/contact/youSaidIt

I'll pass this on to some women I know who work in law firms in NY.

foreverloyal said...

Loving this hold post! Glamour (and a whole lot of other people) are going to rue the day...

Halima said...

i'm on board and will be on the lookout!

sometimes i wish i could clone myself, there is so much to do since we let things get out of hand!

LaDonna said...

I used to subscribe to Glamour for years and recently let my subscription expire because I was too busy to keep up with it. I'll never resubscribe and I'll tell every black woman I know never to buy another issue. We need to let the media know that black women are not taking it anymore. I wonder if you've seen the recent quotes from producer Polow the Don (he wishes) where he discusses his label as "king of white girls", how black women are too strong and question their men too much, and how Oprah Winfrey is a negative role model because she is unmarried. I don't own any music produced by him nor will I ever and if I hear his name on the radio or on TV I will change the station.

Anonymous said...

knockoutchick says:

I am trying in small ways to do what I can within my own space.

I wish I had the time to start a blog of my own. Unfortunately,I wouldn't have the time to manage it properly. I am online all day for work...but reading comments and posting on a blog is entirely different than handling the managment and editing.

I commend, Evia, Gina, Halima and PVM. I know it ain't easy.

pinkydj said...

Anonymous said...
knockoutchick says:

I wish I had the time to start a blog of my own. Unfortunately,I wouldn't have the time to manage it properly. I am online all day for work...but reading comments and posting on a blog is entirely different than handling the managment and editing.

I commend, Evia, Gina, Halima and PVM. I know it ain't easy.

August 31, 2007 10:35 AM
___________________________________

Ditto That !!!

pinky

pioneervalleywoman said...

Thanks for your comments! It is not too much of a problem to start a blog, I have found, but I too just got hooked reading and responding to others'...

If you decide to, write essays on occasion, and if you're concerned about trolls and management problems, just make sure it is set up so that you decide who can post, and you just have to post them when you're ready. It doesn't require too much time!

Because of the summer, and my relaxed schedule, I have more time to work on it, which will probably change once classes start...But I imagine an hour or two per week should be ideal....

But it seems as though with Evia's and Halima's, it would almost be a full-time job, just dealing with an incredible number of posts, particularly when readers can respond as they wish, whenever they wish.



As for the campaign, here is a response I got from Glamour:


Thank you very much for your letter about a Glamour editor’s reported comments
on hairstyles for work. We want to take this opportunity to assure you: Her
remark—that Afros are not office-appropriate—does not represent Glamour’s view.

The junior staffer in question was speaking without her superior’s knowledge
or approval. We at the magazine strongly disagree with her comments; they go against the spirit of inclusion Glamour stands for. We are proud of our diverse readership, and strive to ensure that all women can find themselves represented in the magazine. Obviously, this is a grave matter, and this staffer was immediately stripped of her duties publicly representing the magazine. In addition, Glamour has extended a full apology to the law firm she addressed, and we extend the same apology to you.

We value your opinion, and hope you continue to read Glamour—a magazine that celebrates the beauty of all women.

Sincerely,
Cindi Leive
Editor-In-Chief, Glamour

Zabeth said...

It looks like progress has been made on this issue!

In terms of major advertisers in Glamour here is a list of a few:

DKNY
GAP
Revlon
L'oreal
Cover Girl
Tiffany
Garnier, LLC
Clinique
Redken
Ralph Lauren
Target
Sephora
Sears
Sally Hansen
Ford

Ruth LaMorena said...

Aimee, thank you for today's post and your blog!

I must be crazy with my school, work, and household committments, but I started a blog too. I named it "Meditations on My Re-Education."

http://meditationsonreeducation.blogspot.com/

Anyway, thank you for posting on the Glamour gaffe - I was beyond annoyed when I read about that. There has been a lot of talk about speaking, voting, and commenting with our dollars. I'm working on a post that would address EXACTLY what bw's buying power is but I can't find any numbers for us. Purchasing or buying power for AA's is not calculated by gender anywhere I have looked. Do any of you other very intelligent and educated ladies know if bw as a group's buying/purchasing power has been reported anywhere?

Those numbers would help solidify the power we have with advertisers. Keep up the good work all!

Mel said...

Aimee,

So what else has Cleary done except for send the email out? I mean, there aren't a whole lot of African-American (female or male) attorneys there anyway (in NYC or elsewhere around the country), but what have they done for the associates/partners to show that they are more sensitive and sophisticated about these things in 2007? They could start a diversity series, if they haven't already. Is the management just sweeping this "gaffe" under the rug, or trying to blame it all on Glamour?

As a fellow attorney who has worked at several big firms, I know what it's like to be one of a few Black folk there. Can't imagine that I'd want to be at Cleary right now.

Anonymous said...

I think a campaign to get the 17% of black readers (or whatever percentage) to stop would be better. And when I say campaign i mean loud. A double digit drop in readership would cause panic. Also always remember when an advertiser does right by you drop them a line and tell them soo. Spread this story to other black bloggers and forums. Get people who have subscriptions to drop it and let glamour know why. While your at it boycott this jerk music producer and the artist he produces.

http://concreteloop.com/2007/08/producer-polow-da-don-responds

Jai said...

Isn't this the same issue with Queen Latifah and two white women on the cover? I wonder what her opinion is. I've been wearing my hair naturally for 2 years and I can't believe they had the nerve to post the article in the magazine(I know they talk about it). I tried to email them as pioneervalleywoman did but I was unable to complete it since it wouldn't allow me to enter my state. Maybe they've received a lot of emails regarding the article. Whatever the case may be, I've never subscribed to the magazine nor do I intend to and I have advised everyone I know about this article. We gotta hit 'em where it hurts($$$$$). Thank you so much for this blog, I'm spreading the word about it. :)

Shocol said...

zabeth said...

It looks like progress has been made on this issue!

In terms of major advertisers in Glamour here is a list of a few:

DKNY
GAP
Revlon
L'oreal
Cover Girl
Tiffany
Garnier, LLC
Clinique
Redken
Ralph Lauren
Target
Sephora
Sears
Sally Hansen
Ford



I would definitely cc L'Oreal and Garnier. They were convicted last month for racial bias in their recruitment campaigns in France.

www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,2120789,00.html

Let Love Rule said...

Ruth LaMorena said...
Do any of you other very intelligent and educated ladies know if bw as a group's buying/purchasing power has been reported anywhere?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The numbers are easy to find. Just Google. Here it is:

All info based on Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, report, “The U.S. Multicultural Women Market.”

an article on the report can be found at
http://www.naa.org/r2/buyingspree.html

"African-American women carry the most spending power among women of color at $270 billion and the largest share of that market, but are expected to soon be eclipsed by Latinas. "

"By 2008, the African-American, Asian-American and Latina women who make up this market are expected to reach 36.8 million and flex their economic muscle to the tune of $1 trillion in buying power.

Their share of U.S. buying power is growing – from 8 percent of total U.S. buying power in 2003 to 9.4 percent in 2008."


The same study puts the collective buying power of the AA community at $762 billion with an expected increase to nearly $1 trillion by 2010.

"The national share of buying power for African Americans will increase to 8.6% by 2010 from 8.4% in 2005."

http://www.brandweek.com/bw/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002073810

Let Love Rule said...

Something seems to be off about the numbers because it seems it says that the bc has $700+ billion and woman only comprised $200+ billion.

You would really have to read the entire study to see how they broke women out. Maybe those are single heads of households only. And the rest men, and couples.

But the tudy is very expensive around $3000. But perhap you can find a copy somewhere.

Let Love Rule said...

Actually when I look at it, it might be different reports from the same company which may be the source of the disparity.

Sorry Aimee for defacing your blog in the attempt to answer one simple question. LOL

Halima said...

I think there is a corollary to the argument of pulling our patronage and that is giving it to some other person/product we approve of, to reinforce our message and teach a new way of treating bw as a group!

ie Robin Thicke wakes up one morning and discovers he has a huge new following because bw approve of him, think how more effective that message would be.

i magine bw pushing Robin Ahead of Jay Z on the download charts etc.

I guess i am off to buy all Trex old CD's.

Supposing I wanted to Date a White Guy...?

Aimee said...

Thanks PVW, for providing the You Said It link to Glamour--I realized after I published my blog that I hadn't included a link that would have made it that much easier for readers to comment.

It amazes that some people STILL insist that BW wearing our hair in its natural state is somehow "unprofessional." I've somehow managed to progress pretty steadily in two of the most conservative employment environments on the planet (Wall Street and the law) wearing my hair natural or braided almost the entire time. When black people (like Black Enterprise and Hampton University) endorese this nonsense, it only makes it that much worse.

Aimee said...

Ruth LaMorena said...

Aimee, thank you for today's post and your blog!

I must be crazy with my school, work, and household committments, but I started a blog too. I named it "Meditations on My Re-Education."

http://meditationsonreeducation.blogspot.com/

Anyway, thank you for posting on the Glamour gaffe - I was beyond annoyed when I read about that. There has been a lot of talk about speaking, voting, and commenting with our dollars. I'm working on a post that would address EXACTLY what bw's buying power is but I can't find any numbers for us. Purchasing or buying power for AA's is not calculated by gender anywhere I have looked. Do any of you other very intelligent and educated ladies know if bw as a group's buying/purchasing power has been reported anywhere?

Those numbers would help solidify the power we have with advertisers. Keep up the good work all!

___________________________________

Welcome Ruth--I can't wait to visit your blog!

I'm looking for the same numbers, and as soon as I find anything solid, I will post it in the articles of interest section here. Having those figures available will be incredibly helpful in reminding businesses and advertisers of EXACTLY what they have at stake.

Aimee said...

Mel said...

So what else has Cleary done except for send the email out? I mean, there aren't a whole lot of African-American (female or male) attorneys there anyway (in NYC or elsewhere around the country), but what have they done for the associates/partners to show that they are more sensitive and sophisticated about these things in 2007? They could start a diversity series, if they haven't already. Is the management just sweeping this "gaffe" under the rug, or trying to blame it all on Glamour?

As a fellow attorney who has worked at several big firms, I know what it's like to be one of a few Black folk there. Can't imagine that I'd want to be at Cleary right now.

___________________________________

I thought, at least in terms of its response to Glamour's presentation, that Cleary's response was ok--not exceptional--but ok. They seem to make it clear to their own staff that they did not agree with Glamour's poisition on this issue, and their response appears to have been pretty immediate.

I only know one person from my class who is at Cleary now, and from what I remember from discussions of Plessy and affirmative action in Con Law, let's just say I think she would have been one of those clueless white associates wondering what the big deal was. Needless to say, this isn't someone I would want to reach out to for a perspective on what's going on over there.

Since I've just finished a round of interviewing with BigLaw firms, I know virtually all of them have jumped on the "Women's Initiative" bandwagon, and love to brag to prospective associates about these programs. This could be a good opportunity for Cleary's black associates to leverage the focus from this incident on to their concerns about increased diversity and respect. I definitely wonder who knew what, where, and when at Cleary about the substance of this presentation before it was made.

Ruth LaMorena said...

@ let love rule
Thanks for your help with the links. I ran a Google search and found lots of aggregated numbers on buying power (and the Packaged Facts report is VERY expensive) but very little concrete info on bw's buying power as a singular group. I even ran a lit search through my school and work library databases and still came up with zilch.

Aimee, I anxiously await any articles you may find and post here on your blog.

And thanks to the folks who've checked out my blog so far!
http://meditationsonreeducation.blogspot.com/

Let Love Rule said...

Ruth,

I guess I'm unclear on the question. The study places bw paying power at 270 billion.

What other info are you looking for?

Anonymous said...

I have never subscribe to the garbage Glamour prints. I have never in my life looked to a fashion magazine such as Glamour for encouragement or any type of support.

Ann F.

Mel said...

Aimee--

Good luck to you with your BIGLAW interviews. As a BIGLAW (DC) veteran, I can tell you that a lot of that stuff that is pitched to interviewees doesn't hold water when you start work. Of course, billable hours rule, but as an AA, I found that I had to make my own experience and network within and outside the firm. And, I recall hearing a confirmed story that happened at a DC firm. The female partners (all WW) invited all of the female associates (all--WF, AA--all except for BW) to monthly dinners at the female partners' homes. Of course, one of the associates who was friendly with one of the BW associates, told her BW associate colleague what was going on. After that, instead of inviting the BW associates to the dinners, I heard that the dinners were stopped.
Be careful about the "women's group" stuff at the firm. Often, I found that it didn't apply to me. "Ain't I a woman" too?

In fairness, each firm has its own culture, and the firm you choose may be different than the BIGLAW firm I left 5 years ago.

Best of luck to you.

Mel

Let Love Rule said...

Ladies,

I just read this article.

Apparently earlier this year the Baltimore Police Department tried to implement rules which would have banned dreads, twists, "fades" and braids from being worn. The rule was later rescinded after public outcry.
Article:
http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/comments.php?id=12068_0_67_0_C

Petition:

http://www.petitiononline.com/baltpd/petition.html

But it's a shame I haven't heard of this until now. And I think you're right. We need some type of "clearing house" so we know what's going on.

Aimee said...

Mel said...

Good luck to you with your BIGLAW interviews. As a BIGLAW (DC) veteran, I can tell you that a lot of that stuff that is pitched to interviewees doesn't hold water when you start work . . . Be careful about the "women's group" stuff at the firm . . . Best of luck to you.

Thanks Mel! Believe me, I'm well aware of what a sham most "diversity" intiatives at law schools/law firms are. I mentioned the Women's Initiative because if the firm has such a program in place, it at least provides black women associates an existing platform in which to raise their concerns--even if the firm dismisses or ignores them, at the very least they have would then have tangible evidence of it's refusal to implement change or treat all of its associates equally.

Luckily, I didn't go straight from college to law school; I financed my own education through work and scholarships, and worked after college on Wall Street, so I've seen sharkish (and discriminatory) behavior up close and personal. That experience has served me well in recognizing how institutionalized much of this conduct is, but it has also served me in recognizing that you might as well stand up for yourself--it's not like being passive keeps you "safe." I've seen too many people make that mistake.

I expect this next stage of my career to include plenty of late nights, and I'm sure I'll witness my share of appalling ambition, but I've always been more inclined to keep my ears open than mouth in such circumstances. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how it all works out . . .

Anonymous said...

HEADS UP EVERYBODY.............
September 25, 2007 - Congress to Hold Hearings on Negative Portrayals Of Black Women in Media ( LUNCH UPDATE)

Please go to whataboutourdaughters.blogspot.com

Miriam said...

Hi there,

I'm a bw with sort of a unique perspective. I want to help bw but i'm not quite sure what to do. Do you have any ideas? Thanks.

Miriam said...

oh wait! Is this Aimee? the one who just got married?? oh wow! Hi!!

Miriam said...

instead of buying a glamour magazine or Ebony and the such....

.....might I suggest...a mirror!

You get to see the most beautiful girl in the world... She is beautiful or will grow to be as you get used to her.......

All her hair styles, you can do...

Her clothes are within your price range (we hope)....

Plus you get a big smile every morning!

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