Being a black woman in America is HARD.
The statistics tell us that Black women earn 63 cents to the dollar earned by white non-hispanic men but they have the highest work force participation at 58 percent. The statistics tell us that black women make up nearly seven percent of the workforce but are grossly underrepresented in leadership positions, especially CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies.
Take those statistics and move them into the sports world and they become even more bleak.
In the NCAA’s Power Five conferences, there are three black women leading departments and in the professional ranks we see Cynthia Marshall as the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, Sandra Douglass Morgan as the President of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and Nicole Lynn, who is a prolific sports agent.
I’m a black woman in sports and let me tell you the reality IS THE REALITY.
As a black woman who has made a career in sports, I’m very used to being the first and the only.
I was the first Black woman to lead College Sports Communicators during the 2022-23 academic year and currently I am the first President and COO of Minnesota Aurora FC, a wildly successful USL W soccer club and the only women of color leading a professional or amateur organization in the Twin Cities.
Leadership is lonely no matter how you slice it but leadership for black women can be extremely lonely because we are so small in numbers. The voices of black women in sports spaces are vitally important and we have to continue to advocate for black women in the highest positions. It will take us all, black and white, male and female to diversify the highest levels of sport.
Diverse representation is crucial across the sports landscape. As we encourage young black women to participate in sports we also need to provide them opportunities and pathway for when the ball stops bouncing and if she can’t see it she most definitely can’t be it.
I’m grateful for all of the allies, advocates, mentors and sponsors I’ve had along my journey. I would be lying if I said I imagined myself in this spot a year ago but I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase success for women of color at the highest levels of sport.
While I am grateful, it’s not easy being the first nor only. It actually comes with a lot of pressure. The weight of representing an entire group of people is hard, Your mistakes are perceived as collective failure and your successes are never fully attributed to you or perceived as not fully your own. I won’t lie, it’s extremely hard to navigate these feelings day-to-day.
“Yet I persist”.
The road to change will always be filled with peaks and valleys but if we as a collective can see the beauty in diversity, we can create collective change both in sports and the world. I’m grateful to be a part of the change at Minnesota Aurora FC and in the Twin Cities and hope that what we’re doing here will be a model for success globally.