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The Memo – A Book Review

The Memo
The Memo by Minda Harts

The book is The Memo; What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Place at the Table.

If you have followed The HBCU Career Center over the last decade, you know that we have given away a lot of books to students, emerging professionals and career centers.

So, it’s no surprise that when Minda Harts released her new book in late 2019, I picked up 17 copies. One for me, one for my daughter and 15 to give away. So far, I have given away 13 copies of The Memo to career center staff, students or new graduates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I have to say the Coronavirus pandemic put a kink in my give-a-way plan this year, but I am sure I will be able to give away the remaining two copies this fall.

The Memo

A few of the women who received the books included Simone Amos, the 90th Miss Tuskegee University; Malikah Johnson, Miss Harris-Stowe State University; Kiyana Roberts, Miss Cheyney University; and Janiya T. Miller, the 93rd Miss Johnson C. Smith University. Ariel Johnson stepped forward to represent Coppin State University by requesting her copy of The Memo as well. I have shared Ariel’s and Janiya’s photos with their copies of The Memo here! We also shared copies with career center staff at North Carolina Central University, Bethune-Cookman University and Central State University who requested The Memo for their career libraries.

The Memo for Miss JCSU.
Janiya T. Miller, Miss Johnson C. Smith University

Why did I want emerging professional women like Ariel, Janiya, Kiyana, Malikah and Simone to get this book? I knew they would be entering the workforce soon and hearing Hart’s perspective was important.

It is always valuable to hear a professional speak as authentically as Hart does on the ‘ism’s and often lopsided, unspoken rules of the modern workplace. Learning about workplace relationships, strategies for success, professional disappointments and tools for career advancement before entering the workforce, makes sense for all new college grads.

Books like The Memo, can help new grads learn how to think through career situations and their responses to difficult moments in challenging environments.

Ariel Johnson, Coppin State University
Ariel Johnson, Coppin State University

Workplace rules are not always fair

Yes, the data is clear that BIPOC face unique challenges in workplaces where microaggressions abound and the playing field isn’t level. So any advice that specifically builds awareness in women as they create their own own paths to realizing their full potential, is worth the read.

Minda details several events that she was not prepared to encounter and where she may have been under informed about the protocols. In some cases she did not know what to expect. She then authentically shares her own awakening to how things really work in corporate and what she did about it.

Peppered with “real talk” and lingo that emerging professionals will definitely get, Hart’s treatment of the real work place shows off her writing skills. One of the gems in the book is Hart’s encouragement about self growth – “What is that ‘Invest-in-Yo’self‘ skill in your life that could be a huge benefit? It’s up to you to figure out what that is” (p. 115).

Minda shares sample letters and a reservoir of career and professional resources every emerging professional woman should use. Overall I think Harts does a good job speaking up for herself and telling the stories of many others who have owned their voices and claimed their seats. There is much to learn about how to do that and The Memo is a resource worth exploring.

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