597068Hi ladies. I usually try to keep this blog focused on professional development, but someone in my network, Empowered Black Women, posted a question in the forum. She asked what does it mean to be black and I had to respond from my gut. So here is my response. I hope we can start some dialog on this and hopefully a movement!

In a Corporate context I think this is a great discussion. You already know I’m of mixed parentage as well (for those who don’t know my Mom is Hispanic and my Dad was black).  For a long time I had trouble identifying with either race because of the unspoken “rules”. I wasn’t black enough to be black and I was too black to be Hispanic (I know weird right). But eventually I had to learn that I am who I am and I embraced both of my ethnicities. I am very proud of both of my heritages. I formed Empowered Black Women to both honor that side of me and to give sisters a chance to form bonds and enhance their careers as Black Women in the corporate world. There are groups, organizations, etc out there but nothing that ever lasts and the fact that Empower Me has been around 11 years is a testament. I formed the Empowered Latinas for the same exact reason. But I digress.

I’m going to be real here (and raw) so I apologize if offend anyone. A lot of girls I speak to, and even some in my own family feel ashamed to be black because of the negative images out on the internet and media. The Video Hoe image is the number one reason. The young ladies walking around with attitudes and ghettofied mentalities is the other. It hurts my heart when I do a Google search on black women the type of junk that comes up. There is hardly anything of a positive nature describing us. Even when I do an image search on Google or Yahoo or whatever, I am hard pressed to find any positive images. I have a cousin who is 25 and has her behind plastered all over Myspace. She grew up awkward and with braces and wasn’t cute by society’s standards. Today she is a beautiful young woman (with a 2 yr old child) and she has her self worth tied up in what complete strangers think of her almost naked pictures. Somewhere her mother failed.

I am so grateful to Dove & Proctor & Gamble for the My Black Is Beautiful campaign. From what I heard, it is an inspiring and uplifting program and is really taking off. But it’s not enough. We need to tell our daughters, cousins, granddaughters, nieces, friends how beautiful and unique they are…then make them see and feel it. As professionals we need to show them there is a pride and dignity that comes along with success….then be that example. We need to teach them that they are worthy and to never ever settle for less than the best. And finally we need to encourage them in their dreams and help them achieve if even through coaching them along. That is what it means, in my opinion, to be black.

We need to look at the Ursula Burns’, Michelle Obama’s and Anne Fudge’s of the world and realize we CAN do it. We need to let our girls and young women know that we CAN do it. And we can do it being proud of being Black Women. It’s time to take back our image of the Black Woman and redefine it to reflect the respect, dignity and success that comes along with it. We need to stop working against each other and start working with each other and dispel the myth that black women can’t get along or do anything for each other. We need to tell one another how beautiful we are. Stop letting our children (boys and girls) watch this nonsense on tv that degrades women and especially black women. BET, MTV, VH1 all of them need a message sent. I find things like Candy Girls, New York Gets a Job, Flavor of Love and all of those other nonsensical shows to be one of the culprits in why our girls have low images of themselves. THAT is ugly. And it makes me go on the defensive to prove that all of us are not “ugly” like that. They seem to find the girls with the most jacked up problems and exploit them on these shows. it shows them being ugly inside and out and further damages the Black Woman’s image.

I am proud of my heritage- both of them. I am a 40 year old, mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, entrepreneur, author, recruiter…but most of all a BLACK WOMAN. I hope this answers your questions. I kind of got off on a tangent. LOL But I take this very serious.

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

Hi all.

This year I decided to do things a little differently. I’ve been writing this blog for about two years and all you’ve had to interact with were words on a screen. I decided it was time to add video to my blogging. I wanted to give you an opportunity to see the person behind the words. Now I must warn you, I am not used to this. I can speak in front of hundreds of people, I can teach a class, I can interview people via video conferencing. But there was something nerve wracking about getting in front of the camera. If you can’t tell by watching, I was a nervous wreck. I did at least 15 takes before deciding on this one.

I will try to bring a video entry to the blog 3-4 times per month. This is a year of change, new beginnings, new opportunities. That’s why I decided to shake it up a little bit.

Ladies, networking is one of my passions. I’ve mentioned countless times the importance of a strong network and always being accessible to your network. Everyone is in a mad dash to build their connections, link to as any people as they can, get to know countless acquaintances. But have you ever thought about beyond your networking sphere? I’ll explain.

Thursday evening I hosted a conference call. I sent out a ton of invitations to the wonderful, successful, powerful Black Women in my network. Over the years, I have built an incredible network (not just of Black Women, but overall). In February, I attended the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. There were phenomenal women as far as the eye could see. We chatted, networked, exchanged contact information, and vowed to keep in touch. That’s where it all came together for me. Fast forward to last week. I decided to pull together a power call. Connect all MY connections to make the network phenomenal.

Many could not attend, as schedules were already full. But the call was phenomenal. The ladies who did attend the call were excited and overjoyed at the possibilities of connecting and sharing with one another. We chatted about the power of a network, and each woman introduced herself, told us about herself and let us know her urgent networking need. I explained that often times we, as women, don’t ask for what we want. I gave these phenomenal ladies an opportunity to do just that.

Unlike at conferences and trade shows, we vowed to continue the dialog and communication so we can not only benefit ourselves, but also give back and pay it forward to one another. And it has already began. Several of the women emailed and called me the day after to express their joy over the call. They have began reaching out to one another and are eagerly awaiting the next call.

So do something FOR your network. Introduce them to one another. Make connections between your connections. Share, don’t be selfish. We are all 6 degrees from one another. Do your part to keep everyone connected. I for one am looking forward to seeing the power of MY network helping one another.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Happy New Year Ladies!!

I hope 2008 finds you with much blessings, peace, contentment and success.

I’m a day late in my “New Year’s Message” so please forgive me. Each year I sit down on December 31st and review my list from the beginning of the year. They are not so much “resolutions” as they are goals that I set for myself. While I didn’t meet every goal (I was short by four) I did add 5 amazing accomplishments in 2007. For that, I feel extremely blessed. I always ask everyone for periodic updates on their progress to their goals. I plan to continue that practice. But this year instead of asking you all to create a list of goals for 2008, I’m asking something different.

Someone asked me “what is your theme for 2008?”. I admit, the question stumped me. My theme had never been given any thought. We all have the usual affirmations we recite and try to follow. But I would say that 2008 is the year to invest in myself. I had a contest recently entitled “Invest in Yourself Career Makeover”. It drew a lot of entrants. As I go through the entries, I see a lot of people who see this contest as a way to have someone “fix” their situation.

For me, fixing your career (business, life, etc) begins with investing in yourself. Whether through reading, education, attending conferences and workshops, finding a mentor, networking, etc, it all begins with you making an investment and a commitment in bettering yourself. You have to architect the foundation from which to build. You may choose to invest in yourself by one, a few or all of the suggestions above. But you and you alone can get it started.

So instead of asking you all to make a list of goals (which you should be doing anyway), I am asking that you all take action. Get involved. Read. Network. Take a class or two. But please, make the commitment then take the action to invest in yourself. Don’t think about it, just do it. Because, “Education + Action = TRUE Empowerment”™.

Have a wonderful 2008 and I expect to see great things for you and from you this year. This is the year of the Empowered Black Woman!

Adrienne Graham
Empower Me!
The Empowered Black Woman™

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