For a lot of us, the mention of A Seat at the Table is obviously in affirmation of the latest album by the talented Solange Knowles. I’ll admit to having at least a new favorite or two from her album. She touches on a multitude of uncomfortable, yet necessary topics while displaying ownership of her work and pride in herself. Solange, at age 30, has done what many of us ought to be thinking about as we progress professionally. She has recognized, acted and reaffirmed my own personal belief that a seat at the table is meaningless without a voice.
In fact, this Rolling Stone headline suggests that Solange, “Walks Softly, Speaks Radically.” I must say, I agree with their assessment and endorse this formula. In a world where smiling or not smiling is a hyper-conscious decision out of concern for how one will be perceived or treated, I can only imagine the level of self-consciousness that overcomes someone about the things that part from their lips while taking a seat at the table.
A seat at the table is a position most ambitious, career-driven professionals covet. We have been trained to perceive this as a step closer to the paramount of professional paramour. In fact, having this seat is such an aspiration that it is a topic explored in relation to corporations and religious institutions alike. I dare to say, the topic is discussed far more emphatically among female professionals, like myself, as getting a seat is a herculean feat for many women.
However, having a seat at the table is not always as glamorous or rosy as you would think. Sometimes, your seat is offered as a formality, presenting an air. If you discover thin air your seat may even feel like punishment rather
than a coveted prize or reach up the ladder. Don’t worry, you can still breathe.
Take a deep breathe. Collect your thoughts, find your voice and speak anyway.
You deserve more than just a seat at the table.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2016