Like 'Girls,' 'Lean In' Is Too Harshly Criticized for Leaving Black Women Out

Writing at Essence, Daniella Gibbs Léger says that Sheryl Sandberg shouldn't be raked over the coals for telling her life story, even if we don't see ourselves in it.

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Sheryl Sandberg at Time Warner's Conversations on the Circle, March 11, 2013, in New York City. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Writing at Essence, Daniella Gibbs Léger says that Sheryl Sandberg shouldn't be raked over the coals for telling her life story, even if we don't see ourselves in it.

By now you've seen, read or heard the back-and-forth over Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In, her tome on women and the workplace. The amount of press she has received for the book and the accompanying campaign has been a publicist's dream. That's not to say that all of the coverage has been positive. Many are critiquing Sandberg for focusing on the problems of elite women -- at the expense of women of color and lower-income women. This raging debate reminds me of the debate over the TV show Girls. I'll explain in a bit.

First, this debate isn't new. From the beginning of the feminist movement, there has been controversy over the inclusion -- or lack thereof -- of Black women in the conversation. It was a double whammy -- we were being oppressed because we were women, and the women's groups fighting for equality weren't interested in including us because we were Black ...

Now I'm not saying that people can't critique what Sandberg is saying. People can obviously have disagreements with her premise or her proposed solutions to what holds women back in the workplace. But what I think is wrong and misguided is criticizing her for not giving enough ink and airtime the plight of women of color and lower-income women. Just as I think that Lena Dunham gets an undue amount of grief for the monolithic nature of her show. I genuinely believe that the place for us to lean in, as it were, is on those who have the power to tell more balanced stories -- they have both the power and the responsibility to do so.

Read Daniella Gibbs Léger's entire piece at Essence.

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