National commentator on black women's issues spoke at women's conference this month
By Janel Shoun on 3/6/2012
“Don’t play the game… change the game, because the rules were not written to allow us to win.”
So advised Sophia Nelson, author, former lawyer, national commentator and political pundit, and Christian, at the second annual Lipscomb University women’s conference – Women. Leadership. Faith. – recently held in the Ezell Center by the College of Arts and Sciences.
|Sophia A. Nelson|
Nelson, who published “Black Women Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama” last year, encouraged the women at the conference to continually redefine their life every few years, to live intentionally and to remember that “love” and “faith” are action words, not passive states of being.
“Live your life on purpose while you are here on this earth,” Nelson advised during the keynote speech.
At Women. Leadership. Faith. prominent women leaders in business, education, government, ministry, nonprofit management and the arts participated in interactive dialog on topics such as managing self while leading others, facilitating wellness in the workplace and in the home, developing faith-informed leadership strategies and incorporating authentic living into decision-making processes.
Nelson’s book draws on her own personal experience as a Christian black woman as well as the perspectives of many black celebrities and influencers, and polls and research conducted by a national polling firm.
“There is a unique context to being a black woman in this country,” Nelson told her audience at the keynote session. Black women have generally been defined throughout history by stereotypes, with few positive role models who were successful at family life and in the workplace, she noted.
But First Lady Michelle Obama is a game changer for black women role models, she said. According to the research in her book, 87 percent of black women feel that Obama has truly made a difference in showcasing black women. But even with such public positive support, Obama still fights being labeled as an “angry black woman” by her critics, Nelson noted.
“Young black women are in a severe crisis,” Nelson said. “73 percent of African American children today are born out of wedlock.” In addition, 70 percent of successful black women are unmarried, according to research in the book.
“We need to rediscover what it means to be a black woman,” she said. That’s why she is glad that Obama has surfaced as the best black woman role model since fictional Claire Huxtable of “The Cosby Show.”
Nelson encouraged the young women of the audience to “fight unconscious bias,” to strive for high goals like running for public office and to strive to mimic the character of the women of the Bible, such as Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus and the woman described in Proverbs 31.
Also featured at the conference was Cordia Harrington, entrepreneur and CEO of the Tennessee Bun Company, who spoke on “Leadership Success is a Journey, Not a Destination,” and various Lipscomb leaders who discussed mentoring and living by faith.
|Cordia Harrington||Panel of women leaders|