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Black Women at Work: On Refusal and Recovery the Perfect Pick for Women’s History Month

“As she takes her reader on a journey through Black women’s professional stories coupled with academic analysis, Williams shines a light on both the freedom and bondage that exist in workplaces. Her skillful interweaving of anecdotes of shared and connected realities across centuries invites new understanding through examination of our society’s fierce commitment to maintaining systems of oppression at work. I find truth in these pages that encourages me to no longer seek answers, but rather seek spaces.” – Precious J. Stroud, Founder, BlackFemaleProject

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Dr. Wendi S. Williams launches her latest book, Black Women at Work: On Refusal and Recovery, a compelling narrative that makes the connection between the unique challenges Black women in the workforce face today and the long legacy of Black labor exploitation. In Black Women at Work, Dr. Williams moves the conversation beyond the stubborn audacity of inequity, focusing instead on the powerful history and example of Black women’s labor and refusal practices and on the potent role that choice and voice can play in dismantling seemingly impenetrable systems of unfairness.

“Despite Black women’s work, brilliance, and labor we are always perceived to be ‘in service’ of institutions and structures,” says Williams. “There’s a long history in the U.S. of this perception-in-action, born out of enslavement and perpetuated by intersecting forces of racism and sexism. Though it shape-shifts over time, the result is the same. Black women are statistically critical to the labor market, but our work is largely low-wage, and service-related. Black women’s labor and leadership is hardly ever seen for its ultimate value: The betterment of all society. This is why I wrote this book.”

Using her decades-long expertise as a psychologist, advocate, and educator, Dr. Williams challenges readers to examine oppressive labor dynamics for workers that persist to this day, offering ways to identify barriers and tools to dismantle them for the betterment of all society. The themes are more relevant today than ever, as evidenced by a recently released survey on workplace inequity from Hue and The Harris Poll. Among its findings: Black women, in particular, are twice as likely to be underpaid for their work as compared to their white male counterparts. In addition, the unemployment rate for Black women aged 20 years and older rose to 5.5% in December 2022, from 5.2% in November 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What are the historical factors that contributed to these statistics? What can we do as employers, employees, and as a society to help reverse these trends? Dr. Williams’ addresses these questions in compelling and thoughtful prose with a clear call to action for readers and for America. 

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