Like many other black girls and women, being able to witness the swearing in of Vice President Kamala Harris was a moment of validation for Jennifer Farmer; It was a true testament towhat Black women can accomplish with hard work, tenacity, and a network of support.
Farmer, a veteran activist and public relations expert, has also recently sparked a revolution in Black women’s lives by launching her new book, ‘First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life.’ The book typically addresses challenges women of color face when they’re both the first and only in professional spaces and offers a solid roadmap to success.
The book unravels the unrealistic expectations shouldered on Black women. It also speaks to racism, sexism, and hardly veiled hostility associated with being the first and only. As Farmer puts it, ‘While a Black woman’s appointment or ascension to a lucrative position at work is exciting, there is an underbelly linked to career progression.’
The book comes when Black women-owned firms remain one of the nation’s rapidly-growing small businesses. Yet, with the skyrocketing numbers, lack of funds and cash flow are some of the most significant challenges for Black women entrepreneurs.
Farmer says that her self-help book stands out from others since it explains to African American women how to take care of their bodies and minds while also fighting for the top seat at work. She adds that it is a huge deal for Black women since they face issues like racism, hair discrimination, and bias against how they communicate.
Farmer looks at the ascension of prominent women leaders like Harris, Kim Foxx, Marilyn Mosby, and Aramis Ayala, who broke all barriers to become the first women of color elected as state attorneys in their respective states.
Jennifer states that she was excited when President Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate. Still, she noted that from the time Harris announced her intentions to vie for the seat, she encountered stiff headwinds of racism and gender bias. These are issues that women of other races don’t deal with as much.
According to the dubbed ‘PR Whisperer, the book exists because way too many white men have published leadership books, yet they have failed to address the classism, racism and sexism that Black women face at work and in their personal lives. She adds that First and Only is not about how to get a job – it’s about healing yourself so that you can substantially sustain yourself.
The book also incorporates practical tips to help African American women succeed at work. It features spiritual healing tools and insights from organizational and psychological experts, among others, to assist Black women in overcoming past trauma.
‘We need to create new opportunities so that Black women don’t frequently find themselves as the first and only,’ Farmer says.
Farmer is the founder of Spotlight PR, which provides public relations support to people dedicated to fighting for racial justice. Her clients include the rapper and activist Killer Mike, the former Ohio State Senator and 11th Congressional District Candidate Nina Turner and asset manager Jacob Walthour.
Farmer also works with the Black Women Leadership Project and the author of Extraordinary PR and Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide. Her work has also graced CNN and Sojourners like The Huff Post, The Root, and other media.