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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Separate but Equal: The History Behind National American Business Women’s Day


"As-Salaam-Alaikum," "Peace Be Unto You"

A Day in the Life of ejnosillA

Separate but Equal: 

The History Behind National American Business Women’s Day


Yesterday, I remembered sitting at work trying to get my mind right for the work day and thinking to myself… why is everybody making so much noise in the hallway by my door and it’s too early for this nonsense? 

As I was pondering if I should open the door and politely ask them to move it on down the hallway… a coworker knocked on my office door and invited me to come into the break room because she has bought a variety of doughnuts and then wishes me a “Happy Business Women's Day!”

I thought to myself… what type of foolishness is this! I swear every other day these women come up with any idea for us to be standing around in the break room stuffing our mouths with some type of sweet delectables and complaining about our waistlines while reaching for another… and another… Just Saying!


I was still thinking to myself... what the heck is this American Business Women’s Day and what does it have to do with me… and these women need to stop making up celebratory days so we can stand around and eat sweets while I have a bunch of work to complete!

As these thoughts played through my head… I felt myself saying out loud… I refuse to eat another delectable and gain another pound until someone explains to me what this day is really about… as I threw down my chocolate doughnut back in the doughnut box!

Okay… in my mind I aggressively threw that doughnut back in the box… but in all actuality… I put that doughnut on a plate… poured me some milk and sat down while I waited for an explanation of what Business Women’s Day is truly about.

One of the employees, who can be unnecessarily sarcastic at times… okay… who am I kidding… ALL THE DANG TIME… who is always in support of these wacky little days or holidays… sarcastically told me that it is a day that recognizes the importance and impact of women in the business world… I told her that I gathered that much from the holiday name, but what is this day truly about… the history behind it.

Now… like we… meaning the other Women of Color in the office… like we always do during these situations, we just look at each other and shake our heads because I sometimes think that White women forget that most of these holidays do not represent our realities, but theirs… So… like I stated earlier…

What is the significance of this day to women like me… Black women… Women of Color?


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Thinking that my curiosity would be satisfied, little Miss Sarcastic sent me the link to Holiday Insights’ website.


It explained that “the roots of this special day go back to the late 1940s. While men were off fighting World War II, women filled the void in the workforce.” 

After the war, women were required to return home to fulfill their domestic duties, but they were not satisfied with fulfilling their traditional gender roles within society or their homes.

Holiday Insight’s concluded that “since this time, women's role and contributions in the workforce have grown and evolved.” Subsequently, the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) was founded on September 22, 1949 by Hilary A. Bufton, Jr. and three Kansas City business women. In 1982, the first Business Women's Day was celebrated.

This day, September 22nd was proclaimed Business Women’s Day by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and he issued Proclamation 5532 on American Business Women’s Day in 1986 according to Holiday Insights. 



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Not completely satisfied with the explanation, I began to wonder who these three KC business women were?!? This bothered me for a few minutes and then I took to the internet to find out why Hilary’s name was the only name mentioned while the three KC business women's names were missing from Holiday Insights account of this day… why is that? If this day is about the impactful accomplishment of business women in American history… why aren’t the founding women being mentioned, but the man is… Just Saying?!?

I began to search online in which I read so many articles, but none gave additional information on these three mysterious KC businesswomen that I have become obsessed with finding out about them. Finally, I decided to contact the main headquarters of the American Business Women's Association.



I explained to the receptionist what I was doing and she explained that she knew that their names were missing from their website, but did not offer any reasons to why. 

She excitedly found the names for me: Irma Rutter Beisel, Shirley Curry Cupp and Frances Meisenheimer Stuckey. 


Still not satisfied, I started Googling their names and I found an internet copy of the March 16, 1976 Congressional House Records that recognized Hilary A. Bufton, Jr., as the founder of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). 

In the documentation, it was explained that Bufton felt that during the war efforts, women had greatly contributed to the business world in the absence of men. He acknowledged that with the addition of education, this would assist with their individual pursuits of their desired professions and would advance the betterment of women.

In June, 1949 the ABWA became registered by the State of Missouri.

Unlike what was reported on Holiday Insights… which mirrored what was reported on Wikipedia and a host of other websites.



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The report stated that on September 22, 1949, three Kansas City business women, Mrs. Irma Rutter Beisel, Mrs. Shirley Curry Cupp and Mrs. Frances Meisenheimer Stuckey, in an effort to progress Mr. Bufton’s concepts, ABWA was incorporated under the laws of the State of Missouri. This resulted in the first chapter, the Pioneer Chapter being established on November 21, 1979 in Kansas City, Missouri by my three mysterious KC business women.

Within one year, there were 21 chapters in 9 states and the District of Columbia.

Well… just like clockwork… well, it was lunchtime… Miss Sarcastic came by to discuss this Business Women’s Day... or another made up holiday in my mind… not knowing that our earlier conversation had sparked my interest not only about the day, but about the three mysterious KC business women and more importantly… about this supposedly inclusive women’s day and how this day benefited Black women?!?

So, as she continued to excitedly talk about this holiday and how this was such a pioneering movement for women… as if it was the best thing since slice bread… I simply said: “Yes… it was pioneering movement for… White women… remember in the 1940s… Separate, but Equal?!?”



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As she stood there turning red… looking as if I had smacked her… but I guess you can say I did… I struck her with some historical truths.

I explained that in the 1940s Black women were faced with many prejudices that intersected their race, gender and inferior social status… racial segregation and Jim Crow laws were still in effect. So, to me… once again… this holiday has nothing to do with the Black woman’s experiences. Once again, we are still separate, but equal.

Meaning this holiday signifies something different for her then it did for me. She was looking at the accomplishments of these three pioneering women who were progressing the White woman’s agenda while Black women were still suffering and plagued with segregation.

Miss Sarcastic stated that is was a movement for women and it is a celebration for ALL women… and I told her… “Yeah… now it is, but its foundation is rooted in the progression of White women and not Women of Color.”

You know it’s funny… most White women that I know, they are always trying to bond with me on the level of us being women, but history and my own experiences have taught me that just because we are women and share similar experiences, there is a difference in how we are viewed, treated and depicted within society! 


The truth of the matter is we just entertain you because you really don't know us or try to get to know us. We play a part and go home... wake up and play that part again because we know the truth.

See... White women are seen as the default for all women... they supposedly epitomize the pure characteristics associated with womanhood. So no matter how much we try to assimilate within society... and no matter how many Oprahs we have out there... we are still viewed as hypersexual, angry, aggressive baby mamas or beasts. 


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Although, ALL women are seen as being inferior to men, but Black women are the lowest on the societal hierarchy... if you don't believe... you better pick up a history book or a scholarly journal article. 

Even in the business world, White women make more and are still more respected than Black women. Yes, we as women are striving and knocking down the corporate “glass ceilings” by counteracting sexism and classism, but Black women still deal with the Invisible Power of Whiteness in their workplace… meaning we still deal with racism!

Therefore, these so-called universalized holidays that are supposedly being inclusive of all women, doesn’t represent Black women’s history… my reality… our collective realities, but the White woman’s privileged history and their realities… Just Saying!

I explained to her that even with me coming from a family of well-off educated Black people, I was always reminded that when I was born into this world I had three strikes against me: I was born Black, female and within a society that has historically devalued the Black woman and her experiences. This generational knowledge was passed on to me and I have and will continue to pass it on to the next generation.

So... while White women inherit material things, we inherit knowledge and survival skills.

This ancestral inheritance is reflective of the Black woman’s history which is rooted in racism, sexism and classism that is wrapped within a bow of marginalization, discrimination, generalization… while theirs is rooted in White privilege. 


Although, those three pioneering women were fighting for their right to be a part of the male dominant workforce... Black women were fighting for their rights to just exist!

As we concluded our talk over lunch, I emphasized that I did understand the importance of this day and its significant recognition of the impact women have made in the workplace. However, sometimes we need to research these holidays and find out the history behind them before we celebrate them... or even impose them on others.


She smiled and I began to walk back to my desk, she sarcastically said: “Gosh, I’m glad you don’t work on Monday… I can just imagine what kind of a funk you would make over National Comic Book Day and there being a lack of Black women being represented in comic books!”

Laughing while shaking my head… I stated: “In my life, I have found that you have to learn to pick your battles and these comic book fanatics around here are crazy… shot… you seen them all last Halloween looking all stuffed in their superhero costumes… I don’t need a bunch of overweight comic book enthusiasts chasing me down the hallway and trying to use their imaginary superpowers on me! It’s not worth me getting my blood pressure up for that nonsense!” Just Saying!


ejnosillA’s Final Thoughts

As I sit here reminiscing about my work day and my conversation with Miss Sarcastic, I have accepted that for me to compete in the business world… I couldn’t stop at a Bachelor’s degree, I had to get a Master’s degree. Whereas, she was afforded the luxury to only have a Bachelor’s with some graduate classes.

See, I have accepted that as a Black woman… it is an unspoken rule that I must be smarter and work harder than the average White women. I am required to go above and beyond to prove my capabilities within my workplaces and in life… even though I have the intellectual papers, work experience, skillsets and common sense to complete the job.

Although, history has shown me that life will not afford me the American Dream because of my gender and skin tone… but would afford me a piece of the American pie.


The problem is… with me being who I am and knowing what I know… I come to realize that I just don't want a slice... I want the whole dang pie!!! Just Saying!

Let's keep the conversation going and tell my your thoughts! Please leave your comments below.
As usual…

Stay Blessed Queens!



May ALLAH Continue to Bless ALL!!!


~ejnosillA



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Image References:


ABWA Logo: Retrieved from http://www.abwa-soaringeagles.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/abwa-logo.png

Yellow Polka Dots Background: Retrieved from: http://slodive.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/polka-dot-backgrounds/yellow-white-polka.jpg

15 comments :

  1. Interesting insights. I've never heard of this holiday, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it.

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  2. I didn't know 9/22 was National American Business Women’s Day (and I am a Business Owner)

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  3. I had no idea. Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad we've come so far in the workplace. We still have a bit to go. :)

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  4. Great information. Never heard abt this holiday. I love how u didnt just take it, you found out the roots of it... I loved reading ur thoughts on this. Salam ❤

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  5. Thanks for sharing your insights... I had never even heard of this day before.... I enjoyed reading your opinion :) Shell

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  6. Thank you for sharing your insights on this holiday. As mentioned, it is always good to do a little research on holidays and any subject for that matter.

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  7. It's actually sad that even with all this "MOVEMENT FOR WOMEN", there is still a gap between white women and women of color. There should be no "white women as the default women".

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  8. Nice! Great read, I had no idea the history behind it. You also wrote really well.

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  9. Wow! you have all of the facts. I love this. It's a great resource! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. I see some good points but are sad at the thought of how things are in the USA .... as I'm sure things are here at times . When will be the day we can all just forget 'what we look like ' and just be people :(

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  11. Lovely information in regard to National American Business Women Day. I'm hopeful that before I leave this Earth, equality in every aspect with be realized.

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  12. Thanks for sharing this. I haven't heard of this "holiday" before, but wow at her response. Some people just don't get it...

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  13. It never fails to amaze me how much I really don't know. I love that I can count on other amazing women like you to keep me informed and help me know all I need to know even when I don't realize I need to know :) Thanks so much for sharing!

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  14. So important to point out. Thank you for reminding us how linked race and gender are and how much "women's" events can exclude some women!

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  15. I am interested in your point of view. I didn't even know about the holiday. So much enlightment.

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~ejnosillA