During former President George W. Bush’s first term, Condoleezza Rice became the first woman to serve as national security advisor. By the time his second term ended, she’d also added first female African-American secretary of state to her resume. Basically, she’s spent her life taking a hammer to every glass ceiling she’s encountered.
While the discussions and debates about the existence of and solutions to racism and sexism rage on, Condoleeza Rice has offered some pretty sage. advice for achieving success while you’re waiting for the world to change. During an interview with Motto, she said:
“Don’t let somebody else’s racism or sexism be your problem,” she said during an interview with Motto.
Rice claimed that’s the message women really need to hear these days. If someone tries to put you down, “don’t take that on,” just speak up for yourself and if you can’t, “find mentors to help you navigate those difficult circumstances.”
“The fact is life isn’t perfect and you are going to run into people who try to belittle you and put you down, and you simply have to be capable of not accepting that from them,” she said.
And in regards to the occasional “glance or interruption,” she said, “You just can’t let that get to you.”
While describing her upbringing to Motto, Rice said her Birmingham, Alabama family constantly told her that she would have to be “twice as good.” And that was to empower her, not to put her down due to her gender or race.
“They said there are no victims — the minute you think of yourself as a victim, you’ve given control of your life to someone else. I remember specifically my father saying once it’s OK if someone doesn’t want to sit next to you because you’re black, as long as they move.”
In regards to diversifying the workplace, Rice explained that the current conversations, which tend to focus exclusively on the barriers women face “make it sound so hard that we scare women away.” She doesn’t buy into these conversations, because when she wanted to become a Soviet specialist, her only role models were “old, white men,” and she wasn’t scared.
In other words, Rice believes in the simple notion that if she could persevere and find a career, others can, too – no matter their gender or race.