I don’t understand white women.

Fifty-three percent of you chose an indisputably unqualified man for a job over a woman who could run circles around him.

Isn’t that the very thing you’re always complaining about in the workplace?

Here, you had an opportunity to place a woman in the most coveted position in our land. And you blew it.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what to make of that.

It wasn’t like the qualifications of the two candidates were even close. His resume made him look like an apprentice compared with her stellar achievements. Yet, you decided that he deserved the job.

Perhaps you thought he was a better fit. How many times have women heard that excuse when being turned down for a position? After all, the predominantly male power structure — the Congress in this case — would feel more comfortable with someone at the helm who looks and thinks like them.

We know how quickly they dismissed everything that African-American man had to say over the last eight years. Certainly, a woman couldn’t fare any better than President Barack Obama. What America needs at this point in time is a white man who knows how to get things done.

And white women, exit polls show that you apparently bought into that ridiculous, stereotypical notion.

It wasn’t just the uneducated ones who voted for Trump, either. Forty-five percent of you hold college degrees.

Black women thought you were serious about breaking that glass ceiling. But when you were close enough to touch it, you turned around and walked away. Maybe it wasn’t all that important to you after all.

If white women struggle to achieve equal status with white men, know that it is twice as difficult for black women. Still, 94 percent of black women voted for Clinton. And unlike white men, of which 63 percent voted for Trump, 80 percent of black men voted for Clinton.

So while everyone’s pointing a finger at someone else for messing up this election, when it comes to black voters, you need to keep your hands in your pocket. Don’t dare accuse black voters of staying home in urban cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Cleveland and allowing rural white voters to outnumber them at the polls. Latino women turned out in stronger numbers than you too. Sixty-eight percent of them voted for Clinton.

Everyone else did their part. You didn’t do yours.

Of course, I’m not blaming every white woman. The 43 percent of you who voted for Hillary Clinton are as dumbfounded as black women are. Clearly, there’s a problem within your ranks, and you didn’t even realize it.

According to a study by the Center for Talent Innovation, a New York-based think tank that studies labor trends involving gender and other areas, black women and white women view power in completely different ways.

As it turns out, black women are nearly three times more likely to aspire to a powerful position with a prestigious title than white women. The reason is simple. Black women are used to being in control.

We come from a long line of matriarchs — black women who prevailed as breadwinners despite a relentless undertow of discrimination and economic hardship, according to the 2014 study, “Ambition in Black and White: The Feminist Narrative Revised.”

But here’s the problem. Despite our hunger for leadership roles, black women for the most part are invisible to corporate management. African-American women hold only about 5 percent of managerial and professional positions.

We don’t have anyone in our corner, either. Only 11 percent of black women have sponsors or senior advocates, according to the study.

Though white women are ambitious, the study showed, they tend to have misconceptions about power, which keep them from pursuing leadership positions. According to the study, 56 percent of white women believe the burdens of leadership outweigh the rewards.

The study surmises that their ambivalence is likewise shaped by history. For centuries, the study said, white women have been confined to homemaker and helpmate roles — norms that have proven difficult to escape.

In other words, some white women carry a lot of guilt about being in charge. They’d rather sit back and let their men take over.

I know lots of white women who defy these characteristics. They’re smart, ambitious, fearless and driven. Indeed, Hillary Clinton, is one of them.

But, political leanings aside, I can’t help but wonder if this is why some white women voted against their own self-interest.

A friend who teaches at a major university in Texas told me that her white female students offered various reasons for voting for Trump, ranging from anti-abortion to taxes. She’s convinced that some women blindly followed their men who convinced them that they should support Trump for political reasons, while overlooking his blatant misogyny.

Who knows if that’s what really happened. What we do know is that white women have to accept a large part of the blame for why Hillary Clinton isn’t going to be the first female POTUS.

And as far as black women are concerned, you can be sure of this: We’re going to think long and hard the next time white women ask us to follow them up a ladder so they can leave us out on a ledge.


(c)2016 the Chicago Tribune

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