Midwin Charles dealt with 'mansplaining' to succeed as an opinionated Black woman in a male-dominated world
'Men trying to explain things to you as if you’re an idiot or a fool. As if you haven’t studied as they have studied,' Midwin Charles had once said
Midwin Charles, a CNN and MSNBC legal analyst, who died at the age of 47 on Tuesday, April 6, once talked about the kind of challenges she faced as a 'Black woman with a voice' in a profession that was dominated by men. Charles' family announced through her Instagram and Twitter handles, choosing to not reveal her cause of death. “It is with a profoundly heavy heart and the deepest sadness that we announce the untimely passing of our beloved Midwin Charles,” her family said in a statement.
“She was known to many as a legal commentator on television, but to us she was a devoted daughter, sister, aunt, niece and cousin. Our lives are forever changed and we will miss her for a lifetime. The family thanks you in advance for your love and prayers,” the statement continued. “Please allow the family time to grieve.”
Charles was the founder of the law firm 'Midwin Charles & Associates LLC'. She was also a television personality and a Contributor to Essence Magazine. She used to be a regular commentator on law, pop culture and politics for various television shows and networks, including CNN, MSNBC, The Wendy Williams Show and is guest host for the radio program 'Express Yourself' on New York’s 107.5 WBLS and SIRIUS XM Radio. She worked for CNN as a Legal Contributor for In Session (formerly Court TV) where she provided legal commentary for live trials daily.
'I deal with a lot of mansplaining'
In an interview with Her Agenda in 2017, Charles spoke about her career journey, overcoming professional obstacles, and how she persevered as a woman climbing the corporate ladder in a man’s world.
"I work in a profession that’s dominated by men, so I deal with a lot of mansplaining. Men trying to explain things to you as if you’re an idiot or a fool. As if you haven’t studied as they have studied. There is also the issue of age. When you’re an attorney, clients generally look at you as though you’re too young, you don’t have any weight on you, you don’t have any experience. A lot of times you have to prove or exert yourself and it’s tough. One of my favorite things to do is to look people in the eye with that look. I don’t believe in meeting people where they are. Sometimes men will yell, and a lot of times I’ll just look at them and stare," she said.
'You’re going to face opposition'
When she was asked what advice she would give to young women looking to enter a male-dominated industry, Charles pointed to the fact that there were shortcuts to be taken. "Well, they have to be really good at what they do. They have to work twice as hard. And, chances are even if you work twice as hard you may get half of the praises and accolades that they get. It’s very important to have outside mentors to give you strength and push you, because it’s going to be hard. Be prepared for that," she said.
She also alluded to her personal experience of always having a strategy ready to deal with unexpected hurdles. "You’re going to face opposition in a lot of ways, in micro-aggression ways. You may not get the better assignment even though you’re the better person for it. Be ready for that. Be ready with a strategy of how to deal with it. Which is why I love my mentors because they helped me prepare for those instances that you get as a woman working in a male-dominated field, and help you deal with it in a way where you’re not popping off. That’s a skill. Because we all want to pop off when things aren’t going our way. Get ready for that and be armed with ways to deal with it," she noted.
Charles explained how she achieved the level of success that she did by refusing to take no for an answer. "I would say perseverance and diligence. I also have this sense that it’s mine. I’m supposed to have it. I work from that perspective. It’s mine. Why not? I’m not saying it’s easy. People will look at my resume and say 'wow, you’ve done so much,' but every achievement you see, I had to scrape for. It was a lot of work; a lot of hoops to jump through, a lot of disappointments, and a lot of failed starts. None of it was easy," she said.