Maxine Waters, Black women, Trump, Steve Mnuchin, Trump's taxes, white fragility

VIDEO: Maxine Waters to Trump’s Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin: ‘I have the gavel. If you wish to leave you may’

Women of color in power still trigger stress for white men. Sorry, not sorry.

Democrats questioned the secretary of treasury for three hours about when he will respond to requests for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns. But Steve Mnuchin had a date with a foreign dignitary. In his haste to leave, he went after Chairwoman Maxine Waters, threatening not to testify again if she didn’t end the meeting so he could keep his appointment.

Waters responded: “The secretary has agreed to stay to hear all the rest of the members. Please cancel your meeting and respect our time.”

When he asked her to use her gavel, she quipped, “Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee.”


Why is it he felt the need to instruct a Black chairwoman on how to do her job?

This is consistent with how white politicians, who are uncomfortable with vocal women of color insist on claiming inadequacy.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces it as Republican men obsess over her, including critiques of her Green New Deal; Rep. Ilhan Omar faces it in light of her position on the US relationship with Israel; Rashida Tlaib was critiqued on “decorum in Congress.” Women in power face it, period.

Related Story: Black Arkansas Senator Slams ‘Stand Your Ground’ as White, Male Colleagues Are Dismissive: Video

White Fragility

“[Commanding respect] doesn’t allow Black women to be in leadership roles where they have power over others, especially white men. We can be assertive, but we can’t be the boss,” said Katherine W. Phillips, a professor of organizational management at Columbia University.

Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility, says that examples of the kinds of challenges that trigger racial stress for white people include being presented with a person of color in a position of leadership (challenge to white authority).

With a Congress that is now the most diverse in history, people of color in the committee hearings and chairing them is a challenge to the hundreds of years of white men in power in those meetings.

“Not often encountering these challenges,” says DiAngelo, “we withdraw, defend, cry, argue, minimize, ignore, and in other ways push back to regain our racial position and equilibrium.”

Waters said after the meeting: “When he said that he had somebody important (to meet), I don’t think that there’s anything or anybody more important than the Congress of the United States of America trying to find out what exactly this secretary is doing.”

Waters still did her job, despite Mnuchin’s tantrum and desire to be placated.

The Impact on Black Women’s Opportunity

The fragility around Black women being in charge also dictates how little the doors are opened for them.

“That’s clear from the underrepresentation of women of color in executive positions, and research also shows that black women who do become leaders are punished more harshly than men when they make mistakes,” says Phillips.

They’re also punished when they don’t make any errors. But we keep on trucking…

While Mnuchin has already said he’s not going to turn over Trump’s tax returns, Waters said she wants Democrats to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

 

Latest News

Questlove plays a DJ set at DiversityInc's 2022 Top 50 event.

Photo Gallery: 2022 Top 50 Event

Accenture earns No. 1 spot on the Top 50 List, Hilton joins Hall of Fame. Expert panels and presentations cover the event’s theme of “ESG: Climate and Culture at Risk”. State Street execs share how they ranked for the first time. Cutting edge research from the Wharton School is presented…

Dr. Sally Saba

DiversityInc 2022 Top 50 Event: A New Landscape = New Opportunity: Shaping Corporate Standards of Excellence for ID&E Management

The role of an inclusion, diversity and equity practitioner has completely evolved, and all eyes are on the corporate community as it navigates its approach. Dr. Sally Saba, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at Medtronic, spoke about working together to shape the next generation’s standards during her Top50Talk “A New…

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: May 5

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. The Impact Overturning…