How to Stay Woke and Stay Employed
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

We’re living in a difficult and divisive era that often finds us on edge. Between social media, our president, and the daily news cycle, we’re often left feeling frustrated, angered, or dismayed. As a result, it can be challenging for people of color to find balance between their own personal allegiances and opinions with their professional lives and workspaces.

During the 2018 Women of Power Summit, three experts shared advice on how to manage external stressors while remaining authentic to your core values without risking your career. While speaking on a panel titled “How to Stay Woke and Stay Employed,” the panelists defined what being woke means to them and how they’ve managed to be committed to both social causes and their careers.

stay woke

(Image: Mary-Frances Winters, Jotaka Eaddy, and Kimberly Wilson)

“We are living in really turbulent times. We’re living in polarized times,” said Mary-Frances Winters, the founder, president, and CEO of The Winters Group Inc. and the author of We Can’t Talk About That At Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, at the beginning of the discussion. “What we’re finding in the workplace is that people are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re coming to work with a lot of tension relative to what’s going on in the external world.” She added, “It can be stressful when you want to share with your co-workers some of those things that might be impacting you.”

To cope with stressful triggers, Jotaka Eaddy, the vice president of policy and strategic engagement and Impact, for LendUp emphasized the importance of self-care and “taking time to rest and reflect.” She said, “there’s a lot of pressure to be wide awake and overly woke,” adding that “as black women sitting here, there’s a lot of pressure for us to be on [level] 10 all the time.”

Kimberly Wilson, the vice president of Affiliate Marketing for Disney & ESPN Media Networks, also advised attendees to be mindful and cautious before publicly expressing political and social views. “If you wouldn’t say it at work, don’t tweet it,” she said. “There is nothing that I say on social media that I wouldn’t say to my boss, and that’s my rule of thumb.”

Watch the full discussion below.

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Selena Hill

Selena Hill is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and an award-winning multi-media journalist. She is also the founder and co-host of "Let Your Voice Be Heard!," a political podcast that adds a sprinkle of trap music, Beyonce, and hot sauce to unseasoned news.


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