Symone Sanders Addresses the Issues and Confidence of Black Professionals


Reading time: 4 minutes

Symone D. Sanders is a political commentator for CNN and was the topic for discussion when she received a message from a follower who criticized her for wearing long nails on television, especially on a popular and global news network.

The follower “simply” gave her advice stating “It s not appropriate when you are on CNN TV and discussing about politics.” 

When someone tells me my nails, the dress or blouse I wore or my hair is “unprofessional,” I find what they are really saying is it is out of the norm for what they are used to seeing on cable news.

Symone decided to share the message she received and used her platform to create a conversation about the criticism of a black women's’ appearance in the work environment.

*spoiler alert* there aren’t a lot of black women on cable news.

Symone represents Black women who are not the so-called “norm" of people who work in a professional environment. Many of which do not have a chance to voice their opinion, especially on social media.

Many tweeters had their own opinions about this topic.

There are instances when clothing and appearance--your natural hair could be the focus at your job rather than the focus of your work. 

There’s nothing wrong with natural features, and, in fact, they should be embraced and celebrated as a sign of confidence. We are beautiful and strong. 

The concern was her nails and not towards the real issues that Symone presents on CNN.

Symone decided to remind those who are critical of many black women's "professional" appearance, that we are confident, free, and here to stay.


B4 my 1st contract, I had an agent tell me I wasn’t “palatable enough for cable tv” & another said I needed voice lessons because I didn’t “sound professional enough.” Translation: I didn’t look or sound like any of the women they were used to seeing on tv.

Symone made it to CNN for a reason: her confidence, work ethic, and brilliance. I believe she strives to work ten times harder than most people. And there are many women like Symone who have the full package, but because of their appearance, they are not on television today. Society should change in order to hear the true voices of other minorities.

So I’m fully aware that when I show up curvy, with a low cut, a bold lip, an oversized bow, amazing nails & a chilling analysis...people don’t know how to take it. B/c I am not “supposed” to be able to give you solid political commentary with a bedazzled nail right?

Many of us have those days when we decide to hide a part of our identity to be eligible for a job. We believe that the only way to put food on the table is to code-switch ourselves.

See when someone says my XYZ isn’t “professional” what I hear is that they are uncomfortable with what I’m doing b/c they aren’t actually comfortable w/themselves. They wonder how I have the audacity to authentically show up every day meanwhile they are tossing on a mask from 9-5

How do you feel about the message Symone received and how do you feel about Symone's overall message?

Kiki N. works in government. She has a bachelors degree in Sociology. She is interested in the Black women narrative and experience. 


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