The Power of African American Women


Photo credit: Hust Wilson on Unsplash

The power African American women wield is real. This is not some newfound power. It’s power that African American women possessed throughout the history of America.

During the Civil Rights Movement African American women were considered the backbone of the movement. They organized demonstrations, helped educate others about the struggle, fought for justice and equal rights to effect social change, improve and preserve our communities.

Out of this struggle to improve the lives of people of color, as well as themselves, African American women developed a determination of will that’s not waning any time soon.

It’s disheartening to hear African American women hate on other African American women. We’ve endured enough oppression, subjugation, and hatred from others that we don’t need to suffer it at the hands of each other.

Instead of tearing down each other, let’s uplift each other. As Alice Woodard said, “When black women stick together, we are the most powerful force in the universe.” Here are amazing things African American women are accomplishing by sticking together.

  1. African American women exhibit immense political power at the polls and in office. We bring diversity through our voice, perspective and leadership. In 2008 and 2012, African American women surpassed all other race and gender subgroups in voter turnout (source). In 2014, African American women voter turnout outnumbered every non-white voter group. In 2016, African American women elected the largest number of African American women to Congress, one to the US Senate, mayors, and state legislatures.
  1. African American women are the most educated group in the US according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Across all racial/ethnic groups, females were the main recipients of undergraduate degrees in academic year 2013-2014. Across every racial/ethnic group, black females earned undergraduate degrees at the rate of 64%, which outranked every other group.
  1. African American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. African American women are the majority stakeholders in 1.5 million businesses with over $42 million in sales (source). According to The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report:

“Firms owned by African American women number an estimated 1,319,400 as of 2015. These 1.3 million firms employ 297,500 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $52.6 billion in revenue. African American women own fully 49% of all African American-owned firms, employ 29% of the workers employed by African American-owned firms, and contribute 29% of the revenue generated by African American-owned businesses.”

  1. African American female consumers hold the economic influence and buying power in the African American community. Our strong values and brand loyalty reflect what we buy, which is driving the total spending power toward a record $1.5 trillion by 2021 (source).
  1. African American women are trendsetters, brand loyalists, and early adopters. Black women influence mainstream culture of beauty, fashion, music, and television. 

Photo credit: Ovayo Ntlabati

There’s no doubt that African American women are independent, confident, self-aware, and empowered. Just examine the social media movements: #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackGirlsRock, #BlackGirlPower, #UnapologeticallyBlack, and more. We’re tearing down stereotypes with organizations like: Black Girls Run, Black Girls Ride, Black Girls Code, and Brown Girls Surf.

African American women are in an age of empowerment, networking and collective support. So in this vein, let’s keep tearing down myths and stereotypes, not each other.