Stay Woke /ˈstā ˈwōk/ slang. – aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice). The usage of “Woke” can be traced back to 1962, however its recent mainstream resurgence is a result of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014. See more. If You’re Woke You Dig It by William Melvin Kelley, Garvey Lives! by Barry Beckham, Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, Redbone by Childish Gambino
My name is Diamond Dixon, I’m 27. I’ll be 28, probably by the time this is published. I work for a nonprofit. I went to the University of Missouri and studied journalism. I’m from Kansas City, Missouri…I’m a Missouri girl. I went to private school, Catholic school, growing up for eight years and then I went to public school in Independence, Missouri. One of my favorite things about growing up was spending time with my family. I’m an only child so I spent a lot of time with my parents. I’m also the only grandchild, so I’m used to having a lot of attention on me…a lot of family attention on me. I had a lot of friends growing up, I did drama. I want to say, I started working when I was 14 years old…and never stopped.
To me, my mom’s a pretty hard worker, so I saw that a lot growing up. She wasn’t around a lot. She was always working. So I was raised by my grandmother and I knew my mom was always at work and so I just always knew that’s what she was doing.
Something my parents always said was, You treat everybody the same way. So whether it is the janitor or the CEO of the company, You treat everybody the same way. You say good morning to everybody. You say thank you to everybody. Nobody is ever too good or not worthy of your attention. That’s something that was instilled in me at a young age. And so I do, I speak to everyone and I treat everybody the same way. I try to give everyone a little piece of me everyday.
Black women are superheroes. Black women are dealing with their race and their gender as something that society looks down on. So women are already kind of looked at as, you know, they can’t be in charge. They can’t have a lot of power. They’re emotional. You know, the Black stereotypes are that they lack education, they lack drive, or they’re lazy. And so I think as a Black woman, you see all of this marginalization and you’re just so put down and put down and put down…and so I want people to be more conscious that we have a lot to offer. We experience so much by society and we still get things done. No matter all of those things pushing us down. And so I just wish more people recognized that in society.
Oh yeah, for sure. I honestly don’t know if I ever will (live up to that). She is me times a hundred, you know? So if I could just be a fraction of what she is, I’ll be straight.
My mom, she is significantly lighter than me, so I’m sure her journey was different. She could pass as, you know, biracial or Latina. She has that type of look, so she had a different path. But she’s 4’11’ and you spend five minutes with her and you think she’s 5’8’ just because of the confidence and that power that she brings…you would have no idea that she’s this super tiny person.
I have had some good mentors, for sure. I mean, my mom is amazing. My mom is, you know, a top executive at an international law firm, so I’ve seen that as a role model growing up. Also, in my first job at the health system, the associate Dean of the medical school took me under his wing…You know, a 70 year old White man, but he sat down with me one day and he said, Your race and your gender can be the biggest thing that holds you back. Or it can be the biggest thing that puts you forward and you choose your path. And so I’ve just been choosing that path on, Yes, I’m a Black woman, but here’s what I can do as a Black woman and here’s the things that you’re missing because you don’t have this Black woman in the room.
Yeah, so a big pressure that I think a lot of Black women feel, especially in professional settings, is that they always have to be extroverted. We can never have a bad day or an off day…or then you’re that angry Black girl, you’re that girl with the attitude. So always having that smile, always trying to make everybody else feel more comfortable in the room, even though you’re probably the most uncomfortable because you’re the only one who looks like yourself. That’s the biggest pressure for me.
I think everyone has to compartmentalize a little bit just to get far in professional settings. You can’t act the same way in corporate America. You can’t act in the same way in the office as you do when you get off, no matter who you are most of the time. But as a Black woman, I think it’s more next level because even if I walk past somebody and don’t say Good morning, I feel like people are like, Oh, what’s wrong with her? But then people walk past me all the time and don’t acknowledge me at all. But those are things I can’t really devote a lot of energy to, cause it can get pretty draining. So I just know what I can control and I’m going to say, Good morning to everybody, no matter what and treat everyone the same way.
I think it’s just good to make everyone feel good, you know? Maybe that comes from me not being comfortable in certain places, so I’m conscious of that and I’m going to make sure everybody feels good. I want to make sure everybody’s talked to and everybody’s acknowledged. Because I know what it’s like to not be.
Growing up…my dad…You can go and walk with my dad anywhere in Independence. And he had a service job, he was like the guy that you take your car to and he does the diagnostic on the car. So anybody who had a GM vehicle in Independence, Missouri knows my father. We can go anywhere and everyone is like, Oh, Dwight! And everybody knows him and he stops and he talks to them. So I saw that growing up.
I’ve had teachers that have made a really big impact on me, that made that point to touch bases with everyone. And you’re not going to connect with everyone, but you know, what is it hurting to just make somebody else feel acknowledged?
Um, you know, I mean I’m still pretty young in my profession, so I don’t think I’ve had that many struggles yet. I’ve definitely been pretty lucky in where I’ve been so far and the jobs I’ve had so far. Some things have just kind of fallen into place or I just knew the right people…probably by just talking to people. So I haven’t had that many struggles actually getting there. I think the struggles come more once you’re there and people trusting you or thinking, Okay, this girl is 25 years old, what can she really do for me? Before Unbound, I worked as a PR professional for a hospital, so I had to interview a lot of doctors, interview a lot of people in the C suite of health systems. How do you convince someone who’s been a doctor for 20 years that I’m the person they should listen to, fresh out of college? So that’s where most of the struggles come in…earning people’s trust after I’m already in that position.
I always thought it was my age more than my race, but I’m sure my age, race and gender all played a part in some of it. And from a young age, I have learned how to use all three of those things to an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
The hardest thing about being in PR is cleaning up messes that you didn’t create. So I like to be in control of almost everything. But in PR, you’re out of control a lot of the times and you come in after something’s already been done and have to clean it up. That’s the toughest part, but it’s also the most fun part for me…trying to make a new narrative or recover in some way. Recover a company, recover someone’s reputation.
I think there’s a lot of problems that are just problems. I think some are exacerbated because someone’s not talking about them enough or it’s not being framed in the right way.
You have to meet people where they are. So, not everyone is going to be that well-informed on all of the societal problems. So you have to take that with a grain of salt and make sure that you’re doing some education and not just trying to lecture them or telling them that they’re ignorant or that they’re wrong. That may just be their own perspective and they don’t know another way. I think having more understanding and having different messages for people depending on where they are, would be the first step.
I really want more people to be talking about the rates of Black women dying while giving birth and during pregnancy. They are three to four times more likely to die giving birth than White women, their peers. And I’m not really sure exactly why that is. I have some guesses. The fact that Serena Williams almost died giving birth, Beyonce almost died giving birth to her twins, shows that it’s not a class thing. You can have all the money in the world, but you’re still a Black woman at the end of the day and there’s still a disconnection with those doctors and listening to Black women and recognizing their pain.
I think it’s a deeper issue that not a lot of people are talking about– why are these Black women not being listened to in the labor and delivery room? And, I think it goes back to some slavery tropes…Black women are stronger, Black women are dramatic. It may even be some racism and that their lives aren’t as important and they’re not being checked on or their pain isn’t acknowledged as much. And, I don’t have the answers on why it is, but I just think it’s a really scary topic. Especially someone my age who wants to be a mom one day, but is terrified because of the alarming rates of mortality when Black women are giving birth.
I would tell them to speak up more and speak out. So if you want to be an ally, if you know that some of the things that are happening are wrong…but you don’t say anything about them…then you’re not doing anything better than the people who are being blatantly racist. So speak up and speak out often. Call out racism when you see it. Call out that discrimination when you see it. You can be afraid of making people uncomfortable when you do that. Cause I feel like a lot of people who are from a different race, it’s kind of taboo to talk about it. They know it’s wrong but they don’t want to talk about it and they don’t want to draw any more attention to it. And I think you need to do that in order for it to ever change.
I think they just don’t want to cause a disruption, they don’t want to make their family or their other friends feel uncomfortable. I think they may still like that person at the end of the day and they don’t want to ruffle those feathers. And so even though they know it’s wrong, I think they have a hard time saying that. So I would just encourage them, if you ever want this to change, if you ever want an even playing field, you have to use your privilege to help the less privileged people out there.
Seeing my friends do good, seeing my friends winning– getting their jobs and moving up in life. Seeing my friends be happy in their relationships and their jobs and things like that. Traveling. Seeing Black people win.
I dunno, I mean sometimes I am drained and sometimes I do get tired. But I think knowing when you have to take a step back and recharge…you know…I pay attention to the type of images I’m watching. I’m not watching a lot of TV shows where Black women are portrayed as argumentative or ghetto or just like some of those tropes. I don’t watch Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop and some of those where they’re reinforcing that stereotype. I don’t watch slave movies, I don’t watch anything where a Black person is portrayed as a slave.
So paying attention to the type of content you’re consuming. I’m only looking at Black women that are winning, that are doctors you know, that are in these high level positions because those are the types of things that I want to see. And that really has a lot to do with it. I mean, why are there so many Black boys that think that all they can do is play basketball, football or be a rapper? Cause that’s what they see. So I’m only looking at things where it’s like, I want to be in charge…and I’m going to look at Black women bosses, and that’s all I’m going to pay attention to.
Interview Date: November 14, 2019
Day 14 — Story posted on February 13, 2020