Being Mary Jane Highlights the Struggles of Young Black Natural Haired Women in the Workplace

1BlessedNatural: Being Mary Jane Highlights the Struggles of Young Black Natural Haired Women in the Workplace (photo cred: BET)
This week's episode of BET's Being Mary Jane showed how Black women are often judged based on their age, skin color, and natural hair (appearances in general) in the workplace. On the show, Mary Jane (Gabrielle Union) met with her team to discuss ideas for her return to her TalkBack show. When a young Black woman with natural hair by the name of Nina (Makeda Declet) walked through the door, the reason for her presence was immediately questioned by her new colleagues.This represents the real-life struggle of many women, especially Black women in America. 

Nina received questions and comments from her new colleagues including one of the producers who was an Asian man named Young Jin. He questioned the 21-year-old's age and expressed that she represented a demographic that he already represented in their group. Next, a Black male intern by the name of Khalil asked what she brought to the table. His ego was crushed because he thought she was hired over him. 

We can discuss the stigmas attached to natural hair all day, but Nina had that covered when the group talked about welfare.The elephant in the room was that she was going to have to work harder to prove that she deserved to be in her position. After Young Jin made ignorant statements about race and welfare, she left him at a loss for words when she revealed that her mother was a professor and her father was a lawyer. She addressed his ridiculous judgements of her by saying, "Because I'm a Black woman and I wear my hair natural, then I must be on welfare, right?."

Nina and Young Jin on Being Mary Jane (photo cred: BET)

Although Nina is a fictional character, her struggle is very real. When we, as Black women walk into boardrooms, classrooms, and other places we are often questioned and harassed about whether we deserve to be there. I've had experiences in workplaces where my co-workers thought I was there because of Affirmative Action and not because I had what it took to get the job done. Nina had to explain herself from the moment she walked into the door. She may also have to work 10 times harder than her male counterparts to prove she should be there.

Even though, the issue of Black women in many workplaces having to prove that they deserve to be there is nothing new, I'm glad that Being Mary Jane gave us an illustration of the struggle. I thought Nina handled herself well. Kudos to the writers of the show! 

Next week, The Being Mary Jane season finale will air at 10P/9C on BET 

Can you relate to Nina's workplace experience?

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