Reader’s Notes: “Young Black Professionals & The State of Networking”

One of our readers wrote his response to our post on YBPs, we welcomed the rebuttal, then followed up w/ one of our own. By Guest Blogger Kayla S. Griffin.

Original Post:

Hello Beautiful Breakdown, 

As a former organizer of young professional events and young man that has recently turned from fleshly ways (as best as I can! Philippians 3:12-16 come to mind); allow me to engage in debate. I preface by explaining that my response is not an argument or condemnation of anything or anybody. The purpose of my response is to balance the information presented with incite from the opposing prospective derived from personal experiences and call attention to some of the root issues with young professional networking events. I also present ideas toward solution.  Please consider the following thoughts in their entirety.

First let us be fair regarding the facts of what we are talking about…

To be fair, “Dumb Ass Hoes” is more than likely not  a reference to all the woman invited to the networking event. And to be fair, probably quite a few of the women who actually attended the networking event have had sex with a host, hosts’ associate, or two. And to be fair, quite a few of these women probably know about each other or should have reason to know about each other. And to be fair, quite a few of these women manage to still find a way to make it known that they are upset about it.  

Deep breaths … Hear me out..

I agree that Young Black Professional events tend dissolve into pick-up situations. Mind you the pick-up initiative is not only driven by the hosts or the gentlemen who come, but women attend for the same reason. I sum up the reason for this as such: What other meaningful thing is going to happen? Truthfully,  most YBP networking events do not amount to or offer exchangeable benefits that can be to the attendees because the attendees do not have anything to offer each other professionally.

If you are a law student, the only thing universally needed is a job from someone. If you are a medical student, you really do not need anything from these networking events. If you are a working professional, there is not anything you can procure from the law student (ethically at least) or a med medical student for example. So, what happens when there are no real professional benefits to the attendees of the event. Thus, the attendees are going to switch their agenda to social concerns because successful people like to be around each other. I think deep down. people know the pick-up nature of the event even though it has a networking title… and yes this creates a situation favorable to males because there are less women and no consequences for men going after as many women as possible.

Now Mind YOU…  The men that chose to do the most get called dogs, hoes, and whatever else too… but many women will entertain them anyway and possible want a respectful/longterm relationship to result. Vice-versa sometimes too… it happens.

So that brings me to this part of the blog.

Why was it okay for a group of men to court who ever, and whenever they wanted, yet frowned upon when women wanted to do the same?  Who decided who women could and couldn’t talk to without being labeled?”

The difference in standard comes from the enforcement of the Hoe label and not the Hoe label itself. In a small YBP community, labeling a woman a hoe is tool that men can use to enforce real consequences on the dating scene. Once a woman has the label, it will take extreme circumstances for that woman to be taken seriously by any gentlemen in the circle. Because the Cleveland YBP scene is very small, that effectively means all of the guys will not going to take the person labeled a Hoe seriously dating wise (especially sense the pool of YPB men that most women find attractive/non-corny is even smaller). Trust me, everybody knows what goes down with who at night or at least think they do. The sad part is that the women may not even be hoe but it doesn’t matter once she has the label. So when the male leadership of YBP gets together and decides that someone is a hoe… whelp.

The power of that enforcement is that the YPB men will not consider it an option to date someone seriously if they get labeled a hoe. So the issue not that women cannot decide who they can and can’t talk too…

As stated before, while vile, the labeling of calling someone a hoe is not the problem either. Women call men hoes too and get extremely salty when they do not get the guy they want, or more commonly, get him along with everyone else.

What women are really asking for is the enforcement of the label among men to stop. Women are asking that their decision of who to date or who not to date, not to effect the men’s opinion about that women.

#1 I personally find it reasonable in theory for YBP men not to objectify women professionally regarding the quality/quanty/personal proximity of the person(s) she entertains.

#2 I personally find it unpractical in real life for YBP men not to objectify women socially regarding the quality/quantity/personal proximity of the person(s) she entertains.

So then the question becomes how much of the networking event is professional vs social. Because if the event is professional then #1 should apply, but it its social, then #2 is fair game.

So my suggestion is that YPB networking event Organizers should MAKE their events professional, not just name them professional. What I mean by that is… YPB networking events are by default social events in practice unless the organizers of the events do something to make it professional (and just calling it a professional event is not good enough). In order for a YPB event to considered professional and not social not social in nature, the organizer MUST ensure a healthy amount of stand-alone professional value to the attendees and/or must theme the event towards a Goal/idea.

  1. Increasing stand-alone professional value – This means that there must be something clear, significant, and guaranteed that benefits the attendees (besides them being around each other). Examples include having notable speakers, contests, and workshops. The added professional value added to the event should be able to stand alone from the benefit of the attendees being benefits to each other. This for one, attracts people looking to get a professional benefit and Godwillling…acting like they want a professional benefit.

  1. Goal/idea – This means that there is a clear, significant, and realistic reason why the attendees have come to this event and are expected to contribute to it. Examples include, think-tank sessions on hot issues, days of service, and special projects. Setting a goal establishes an expectation to the attendees that there is work to be done at this event, people will be expected to contribute and Godwilling … that not contributing to the event would be inappropriate and embarrassing.

This is all I have to say for right now. 🙂

God Bless you all!

Thanks Former Organizer, 

We appreciate your response to “Young Black Professionals and The State of Networking Events” and I truly believe that it’s through dialogue that we’re able to make a difference and teach one another how to love and respect members of our community. The initial post has clearly generated conversation so I will not take this time to add to it, but rather to address the points that you have specifically brought up in your response in order to hopefully further inspire change and give you another vantage on the post:

Although the term “Dumb Ass Hoes” may technically be targeted to the women who “have had sex with a host, host’s association, or two”, it should neither be used by our YBP nor should it be accepted by other young YBP in our community. Objectifying and labeling women is the whole point of this “Call to Action” and we will not tolerate it any longer. On two occasions you state that “these women probably know about each other or should have known about each other” due to their population and that these events “create a situation favorable to males because there are less women”, yet these statement are unfounded. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Data, women outnumber men 4 to 1 in the U.S. and in Cleveland there are 11.09% more females than males. This means that men’s circles are much smaller by design, and if we are to assume that anyone knows about the others exploits it would then be the men. Men are the ones taking advantage of this great pool of women while knowing that their colleague, friend, classmate, etc. has had some relationship with said woman because they (the men) are smaller in number.

Next, I rebuff you statements that there can’t be any meaningful benefits that can come from these events simply because the attendees are from different professions. To think that there cannot be some benefit gained from building relationships with people of other professions is immature in the way one presents him/herself to the world! To do so would typecast a person to a specific field while never forming alliances with other persons in their community. This manner of interaction is not just for the benefit of one’s field of work but the community in which they live.

Last but not certainly not least, I completely disagree with you argument of labeling verses enforcement of the “HOE” term. You claim that it is merely a “sad” thing when “the women may not even be hoe but it doesn’t matter once she has the label. So when the male leadership of YBP gets together and decides that someone is a hoe… whelp.” This means men can lie, label and degrade a woman and the response is simply “whelp [that’s too bad, or it is what it is]”. Our response to that is “HELL NO!” This is exactly what is wrong with the YBP men and the mindset that many possess that perpetuates female inferiority. Labeling and enforcement is one in the same. The mere fact that one can stamp a label on another places them, ideologically, in place of supremacy. This is viewed when we examine such labels as “WITCH” during the Salem witch trials of the 1600s, or “NIGGER” traced back from slavery to Jim Crow to the present, or “COMMUNIST” during the Red Scare in the 20th Century, or “TERRORIST” which many Muslims endured after 911. One would not dare say that the merely labeling any one of these classes of persons has not had severe repercussions on our history as a nation, so why should labeling a woman as a “HOE” be any different? As a young, black, professional woman I can emphatically say that your statement, “What women are really asking for is the enforcement of the label among men to stop” completely misses the whole point of this call to action and disqualifies you from being a spokesman for our struggle. We DO NOT want “enforcement of the label among men to stop”, we want not to be labeled AT ALL!

Yes, there are ways of achieving solid networking events. Host and leaders of these events need to set this standard, continue to raise the bar, and keep it there.  Your examples of ways to achieve solid professional networking events are great; increasing stand-alone professional value and setting goals are excellent ways to make real connections while maintaining the purpose of the event.  But, allow me to stress in conclusion, objectifying women is not the answer and it is never okay! Whether the event is professional or not, using the lack of professionalism to justify men objectifying women only gives men more of an excuse to do so. THIS IS NEVER OKAY! Change needs to occur in our YBP circles, but before any that can happen, our leaders must change.  YBP men cannot continue to act in this manner and we, as leaders especially, cannot continue to support this behavior – It’s unacceptable!

– Kayla S. Griffin


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