Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few months, you’re aware of the best-selling book Lean In (Knopf) penned by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg doesn’t identify as Black but Triple B occasionally addresses people, places and things in popular culture because they strongly influence Black women. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the book and I’m not sure if I will but a whole lot of Black women have and will so I want to know what you all were feeling about the book and the messages in it.
Amazon.com describes Lean In as a combination of personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. Sandberg recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.” She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.
Oprah Winfrey declared the book honest and brave and says it is a new manifesto for women in the workplace. Several of my colleagues have also praised the NY Times bestseller.
But for all the accolades this book has received, there are a lot of folks who claim the advice in the book isn’t practical for most working and middle-class Black women. Charlotte, NC-based journalist Mary C. Curtis shared this in a piece for The Washington Post: “Black women have long been in the work force, facing different and difficult obstacles. Sandberg warns that being assertive, a positive quality in a man, can be judged as “too aggressive” behavior in women. For Black women, the line between leaning in and being perceived as stereotypically pushy is awfully thin. The rewards may be less and the risks far greater.”
Even still, others have argued that some are being too harsh in their criticism of Sandberg’s tome. As I prepare to become a Mrs. my priorities are definitely shifting and if God sees fit for me to become a mother I’m sure they will shift yet again. I think I’m fairly career driven and ambitious by most standards. At one point during college while carrying a full course load I maintained two internships and worked part-time. I doubt this drive will disappear after I say “I Do”. Hustling is part of who I am. But what has appeared are feelings like my desire to ensure my future husband and I eat a home cooked dinner together at least twice a week. So this means I will miss some events that everyone in my industry is clamoring to attend, I will miss out on more than a few awesome gift bags and I’ll definitely miss some opportunities to network with key players in my field. But at this stage of my life, I’m okay with that. Will I have regrets? Only time will tell. But love doesn’t come with guarantees. This type of thinking probably makes some feminists cringe but in the words of Andre 3000, I hate to see y’all frown but I’d rather see him smile.
Again, I haven’t read the book, Lean In. I think we can all agree this is a very multi-layered conversation with a plethora of different views — far too many to address in this blog post. But I still want to know what you all are thinking. Sound off in the comments, please.
[BTW – I know this is a really heavy topic for a bridal blog but Triple B will never just be about tulle and cupcakes. Sue us.]