As women, we’ve been encouraged to proudly and boldly take our seat at the table. But what happens when the door is locked, and we can’t enter the room with the table? What does it say when women take a seat at the table but aren’t given the chance to own that table? What does this say about women? And what does it say about our value? It says that it’s up to us, as women, to redefine it.
Miami attorney Loreal Arscott was getting ready for work one morning when she hesitated. Scheduled to appear in court that day, she debated whether to put her hair into a bun to make her colleagues feel more comfortable. She was reminded of the comments she’d heard many times before as people compared her curly and straightened hairstyles. In addition, as a Black woman, she needed to worry constantly about her performance in court. Would she be seen as “too aggressive?” Would she do a disservice to her client because of her passion for her work?
In August, I spent a frantic week creating a home away from home for my two daughters as they began their journey as students at Columbia Law School. After navigating New York’s crowded streets and elevators with bulky bags, boxes, and furniture, we quickly unpacked and then celebrated with dinner on our final evening together. I gave my daughters a pep talk about the importance of working hard, of reading every case and completing every assignment, and being not just prepared but overprepared.