Rep. Ayanna Pressley, bald and beautiful, discusses life with alopecia

January 17, 2020, 7:51 PM UTC

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.

Pro-tip: Freshen up your LinkedIn if your boss doesn’t inspire you with their purpose-driven mindset and excellent communication skills. Also, the WNBA leads the way, Watchmen in limbo, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley will move you to tears.

But first, here’s your week in review in Haiku.

I love the pomp of
servants in procession, more
than the circumstance.

Swear an oath! Sign your
name! Silence all the bells and
tweets and photo ops!

While stage right, it is
still thumbs up, WhatsApp madness.
At least somewhere a

storm brings sweet relief;
others still on shaky ground.
Now, to address the

New World Disorder:
If we’re all on shaky ground
pomp won’t be enough.

Wishing you a sweetly relieving long weekend. RaceAhead returns Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

Rep. Ayanna Pressley reveals she has alopecia in a poignant and powerful video op-ed The Massachusetts Congresswoman begins by saying how much her natural hair and braids meant to her. When she first got Senegalese twists about four years ago, "I felt I met myself for the very first time." What had been a transitional hairstyle became a statement—not of militancy or anger, but one of connection. “I was not prepared for the glorious gift of acceptance in the community.” And then one day, bald spots appeared. Then more. She lost her last piece of hair the night before the presidential impeachment vote before the House of Representatives. She delivered her vote managing a private grief. Now, she’s showing her bald head “to be freed from the secret and the shame that that secret carries with it,” she says. “It’s about self-agency. It’s about power. It’s about acceptance.”
The Root

A new LinkedIn poll says your EQ matters most More than half of the 14,000 respondents to a recent LinkedIn survey say that a mastery of soft skills—a purpose-driven and caring mindset, the ability to engage and inspire, and emotional intelligence—will be required to thrive in rapidly changing world. About the same amount say that their current leadership isn’t delivering. Leadership development folks, this is your moment.
Fast Company

A second Season of HBO’s The Watchmen is unlikely No drama, says series creator Damon Lindelof, he’s just not interested in a second act. While he’s given any studio follow-up his blessing, HBO is just sort of shrugging it off at the moment. "It would be hard to imagine doing it without Damon involved in some way," says HBO programming head Casey Bloys. The series garnered critical acclaim for its searing alternate-reality exploration of race and criminal justice (and superheroes and space villainy). It was a good run.
USA Today

On Background

When you go from being the office pet to the office threat This is a stunningly good assessment of a phenomenon that I had not fully considered before: The moment when the diversity hire, specifically a Black woman, stops being a novel delight and becomes “problematic” when she asserts herself and does her job. It happens when they "are embraced and groomed by organizations until they start demonstrating high levels of confidence and excel in their role, a transition that may be perceived as threatening by employers.” It’s backed up by a study published in 2013 by now associate dean at the University of Georgia, Kecia M. Thomas.

What the world can learn from the WNBA Britni de la Cretaz breaks down the league’s new collective bargaining agreement which includes truly groundbreaking benefits for women, including fully paid maternity leave, reimbursement for costs related to fertility, adoption and surrogacy, a child care stipend, and mental health services designed to meet the needs of new and working parents. While every employer should take note, de la Cretaz says it's important to note an often overlooked constituency. “[I]n a league like the WNBA, which has a high number of queer players, these benefits are even more important, guaranteeing that they have the ability to seek out whatever kind of family planning they would like,” she writes. Please read and share.

A documentary charts the portrayal of “American Indians” in Hollywood Reel Injun is an outstanding 2009 documentary directed by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond, that explores the portrayal of the "American Indian" through the Hollywood lens over the century-long history of film. There are many jaw-dropping surprises; some of the earliest films ever created were by Indigenous people celebrating their own culture. Then along came John Wayne. Though an inspiring Indigenous filmmaker movement continues to grow, the struggle to balance the deep cultural damage of John Wayne-era depictions of Indian heritage continues to this day. If you make time for one film outside your normal viewing habits, please make it this one.


“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries—realists of a larger reality. Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

The future of Fortune is here

In 1930, Fortune published its first-ever issue, featuring the goddess Fortuna and her wheel on the cover. This year, on our 90th anniversary, we’re celebrating with a new Fortune. Here’s what’s in store for you:

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