Nancy Pelosi isn't all women, but for a moment she was

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CNN's Dana Bash talks about the symbolism and political context of the photo showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing up at the table with President Donald Trump.

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 6:40 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2019 6:40 AM

We see you, Nancy Pelosi.

Demanding answers, demanding to be heard. We see you, Madam Speaker -- the highest-ranking woman in Washington -- standing up to the world's most powerful man, President Donald Trump. You are standing alone around a table filled with men, extending your finger, refusing to back down.

And we cannot look away from that photo, cannot stop sharing it across social media, or, thinking about what it means for us -- all the women who have found themselves in a similar position in workplaces across America. We too have confronted the wall of white men of privilege who have tried to demean and dismiss us, as President Trump did to you.

In that White House meeting on Syria on Wednesday -- held shortly after Republicans and Democrats in the House voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution condemning the Trump administration's military withdrawal -- Pelosi said she wanted "a clear plan for how Americans will be protected from ISIS, which has been further unleashed." Trump hastily withdrew American troops from Syria last week. Pelosi didn't like the answers she got at the meeting with Trump and his advisers.

In a petty attempt to ridicule Pelosi, Trump later tweeted the photo, captioned: "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!"

But this time, the joke's on Trump.

He thought America would see weakness in Pelosi. He tried to promote the stereotype that women are "too emotional" to lead -- a laughable idea, especially coming from Trump, with his seemingly daily public rants, usually delivered on Twitter, over the past two years.

But while many women are celebrating the photo as a testament to the power of women leaders (Pelosi herself even made the photo her Twitter cover shot) black and brown women like myself have little cause to cheer.

We see the racism in rooms full of decision-makers with few or no faces of color. We see the absence of ourselves, our voices, our communities at the highest levels of government. The image is a painful reminder of the privilege that white men, and, yes, white women, lord over all of us in the workplace.

Black and brown working women are so often disconnected from even the Nancy Pelosis of the world, though that doesn't diminish the respect we have for her successes.

We are angry that, in our fight for workplace equality, "diversity" often means having one or two white women in top positions, often women who seem little concerned with fighting for our equal footing. And many of us are tired of this reoccurring corporate practice.

According to the Fortune 500 list reported in June of this year, there were 33 female CEOs leading the nation's highest-grossing companies, which means women held 6.6% of all the CEO positions at those firms. At the time, just two of these women were black -- Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer and Ursula Burns at the telecom giant VEON. Since the report was published, Burns has been replaced by a white male, leaving one black woman on the list.

Pitiful, yet those numbers are considered progress by some, because they were an all-time high for women CEOs, an increase from the 4.8% (24) of women CEOs in 2018.

It's frustrating, especially up close. The systemic, seemingly normalized, racism and sexism I experienced in the media industry is one of the main reasons I decided to leave corporate America and launch my own business -- a decision made by many women of color today. My time spent in far too many meetings that mirrored the Nancy Pelosi meeting photo, and the empty promises of racial and gender inclusion that I watched play out over decades, were, sadly, enough to make me lose hope that anything would ever change.

It is not lost on me that Thursday we lost another justice fighter in Congress. The passing of US Congressman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, one of America's leading voices in the fight for civil rights, justice and equality, leaves many in the black community afraid that we've lost our biggest champion in Washington. Cummings, chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, will be dearly missed.

Pelosi choked up when she spoke of her colleague and friend at her press conference Thursday. She and Cummings fought many battles together on Capitol Hill, and Pelosi lovingly summed up the life of the man America grieves today:

"Chairman Cummings' story was the story of America: a sharecroppers' son who dedicated his life to advancing justice, respecting human dignity and ending discrimination. He believed in the promise of America because he had lived it, and he dedicated his life to advancing the values that safeguard our republic: justice, equality, liberty, fairness."

Great leaders like Elijah Cummings and Nancy Pelosi remind us that justice, equality and dignity are always worth the fight.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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