Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and White House spokesman Sean Spicer elicited an uproar on social media on Tuesday after making separate comments regarding congresswoman Maxine Waters and reporter April Ryan.
After Spicer told Ryan to stop shaking her head during an aggressive exchange at a White House press briefing and O’Reilly suggested that Waters was wearing a “James Brown wig,” activist Brittany Packnett encouraged Twitter users to tweet under #BlackWomenAtWork.
“This happens to black women everyday at work,” Packnett tweeted. “Share your Maxine and April moments, so people don’t think this is rare. Use #BlackWomenAtWork.”
Several prominent female influencers employed the hashtag to accentuate the ways in which black women in the workplace are perpetually treated unfairly, and to show just how common these types of occurrences are.
Waters herself used the hashtag as a form of resistance against O’Reilly’s remark.
“I am a strong black woman,” Waters wrote. “I cannot be intimidated, and I’m not going anywhere. #BlackWomenAtWork.”
First Lady of New York Chrilane McCray used the hashtag to highlight the discrete yet significant discrimination against black women in the workplace, citing her own experience and sharing similar experiences of others.
“How long have you worked for the City?” An innocent, yet telling question after I welcomed guests to City Hall,” she tweeted.
Actress Jurnee Smollett followed suit, tweeting her own observations about the treatment of black women in the entertainment industry.
“Me: hey I really loved this script..is that role open,” she wrote. “Them: On, we aren’t will to “go ethnic” on that role #BlackWomenAtWork in Hollywood.”
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown highlighted yet another harsh reality that black women face in the workplace, noting the gender pay gap that has remained a prominent issue in Hollywood.
“Eight years on network television as a series regular, paid essentially the same as a white, male guest star,” she said.
“Scandal” star Kerry Washington showed her support by retweeting journalist Ari Shapiro’s post explaining that he would speak to Packett about the hashtag’s rapid boom on Twitter.
“Love it!,” she wrote. “I will be listening and fangirling for all these,” she added.
Director Ava DuVernay tweeted out her solidarity as well, signalling the perseverance of black women despite adversity.
“Saluting my sisters telling their truth via #BlackWomenatWork,” she tweeted. “Onward for all of us. Queens, we can’t be stopped. xo”