By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
As a single mother of two, Jennifer R. Farmer knows she not only has to work harder than most but must excel where others struggle.
The Northern Virginia writer, trainer, and activist communicator isn’t one who easily is distracted. Focused and determined, Farmer routinely is forced to overcome the barriers most Black women face, including being lost in the rat race of life.
The founder of Spotlight PR LLC, a boutique firm specializing in communications strategy and training for leaders and groups committed to social and racial justice, Farmer has penned “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating Work and Life.”
The book, scheduled to hit stores on February 9, 2021, offers a perspective on the racism, sexism, and classism that Black women face.
“White men write most leadership books, and to a lesser extent, white women,” said Farmer, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from the University of Rochester.
“My book adds to this canon and speaks to issues that most leadership books ignore,” Farmer promised.
“It is an affirmation of Black women’s excellence and a resource to support them. For any Black woman who has had the experience of being the first or the only, they will feel seen by this book.”
This is Farmer’s second book. Her first, “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide” was published in 2017.
“Through my writing, I focus on everything from faith to developing better leaders to issues of gender and race,” Farmer remarked.
A former member of the University of Rochester Board of Trustees’ Diversity Advisory Council, and a member of the advisory board for the National Center for State Courts’ Community Engagement in the Courts initiative, Farmer said she wrote her new book after realizing that other works were silent on issues of gender, race and sex.
“I realized that no one was talking about the myriad hurdles Black women would face in professional settings, the online abuse we were experiencing on social media platforms, and the overall erasure of our contributions,” Farmer offered.
“In September 2019, I wrote an article for The Root on the abuse Black women faced online. I realized that what was happening online was a microcosm of what Black women were experiencing offline, in every-day life,” she stated.
Farmer dedicated her new book to her daughter, Maya, and her five nieces.
On the dedication page, she wrote:
“For my daughter, Maya, and my nieces Janay, Shante, Renee, Armani, and JeMariah— May you go without being asked, speak without seeking permission, and create without fear of failure.”
“I want them to see other Black women and me and say, ‘I can because they did,’” Farmer exclaimed.
She counts among her heroes the late Congressman John Lewis, civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth, and former University of Rochester Dean Dr. Paul Burgett.
Farmer also said some of her past and present clients, like Dr. William Barber III, businessman Michael Render who gained fame as “Killer Mike,” Jacob Walthour, and Blueprint Capital Advisors, also serve as inspirations.
“When I feel discouraged, I find hope in the work these folks are doing in the world,” Farmer expressed.
“My motto is ‘Meliora’, which means Ever Better. It is the mantra of my undergrad at the University of Rochester. It is how I try to live my life, striving to be ever better, to improve continually. I am in a race with no one other than myself.”
Finally, Farmer expressed hope that, by reading her book, Black women will see themselves.
“I hope they see themselves in my book. I hope allies and co-conspirators know that their work supporting others must be more than surface-level,” Farmer declared.
“They must commit to anti-racism on a personal and professional level. I hope people who were inspired by this moment of racial awakening in the U.S. receive tangible guidance on how to support, and make space for Black women, Black women’s leadership, and Black women’s perspectives.
“Finally, I hope women of color know that while we share similarities, our plights are different. Rather than forcing ourselves into a melting pot, we should honor our uniqueness.”