Melissa W. is a digital strategist, lifestyle blogger, and author. At her core, she’s a stylish storyteller. She answers fashion questions, talks about being plus-size, has fun in my city, and gives readers tips on how to be better bloggers & social media influencers! She’s a writer, a speaker, and a social media maven. She loves helping people tell their story. Better yet, she loves helping people tell their story with STYLE! Follow Melissa on IG, Twitter, and Facebook: @Fabglance.
Name: Melissa D Watkins
Company: Glance Consulting & Digital Strategy
Industry: Online Media
Who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Melissa. I’m an author, blogger, and digital strategist. I was born in New York and raised in Massachusetts. In essence, I’m a storyteller who helps others tell their stories clearly and concisely in a
How has your race affected your career?
My previous career in Non-Profit Programming was riddled with micro-aggressions. Many staff member are young white women, straight out of college, ready to ‘make a difference’ in a low-income community. having to tip-toe around emotions, and NOT be seen as the angry black woman,that’s the constant fight.When fellow staff members were challenged by clients of color, the client was often passed to me, because I could ‘understand them better’.
Why work with a population of people you have prejudices against? Why get offended when someone of color challenges your privilege and bias? I was forever the one putting out the fires and EXPLAINING why people from low-income areas act a certain way. If young, well-meaning, white women can come into these spaces with a heart to HEAR first and help later, it can be so much more helpful.
Additionally, as I was looked at as the racial firefighter, I was never considered for management positions. Making me feel it was easier to keep me on the frontline than to put me at the big table to help change rules.
Now, as a digital strategist, the playing field is more equal. My job is looked at for the tasks I can accomplish according to the clients I serve. I get to tell people’s stories in a way that will allow others to understand the scope of their accomplishments.
What about your job brings you the most joy? What challenges you the most?
What brings me joy is being a story teller. It allows me to show a client, what they think is a mundane aspect of their job, is something that can inspire others to be successful. One of my biggest challenges is being a woman in the digital space. As a social media strategist, some clients think I don’t have a grasp on the ‘digital’ aspect of creating content. But, I power through, making sure to give more than asked in a timely manner.
What obstacles–either internal or societal–have you faced? What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your race?
I’ve spent 20 years in non-profit programming and 5 years in digital strategy. Making a pivot to the for-profit sector was a surprise. Non-profit is much more relational and emotional while digital strategy is technical. Having to operate a BUSINESS when people are feeling ‘emotional’ is so hard. I’ve always been facts-based. So having to tip-toe around emotions, and NOT be seen as the angry black woman (because I’m asking real questions), that’s the constant fight. Just because I have a strong opinion, with facts to back it up, doesn’t make me angry. Always having to over-explain myself is tiresome. But I do it, so the next black woman can be her total self in the work-place.
What advice would you give young black SHEs?
Be authentic, with love. Be knowledgeable, get the job done, but don’t shrink for anyone.
Don’t shrink because you are uncomfortable.
What black SHE creators, leaders, or visionaries should we be following?
Definitely MyLeik Teal, Mattie James, and Kela Walker. Those are some people I can think of off the top. Also, Kia Jarmon, a publicist here in Nashville, is BOSS who takes no punches and gets the job done.
ICYMI: Read Brynn Plummer’s open letter for our SHEsBlack&SHEsProud series.