“She Gotta Have It”

For Colored Girls in Business

You name the risk and she’s taken it! Harriett Tubman risked $1,000.00 (or six months in prison) in violation of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act when she aided and abetted slaves to freedom.

Name her prerogative and she’s earned it! In 1920 the 19th Amendment gave White women the right to vote, while Black women were not given the right to vote. In fact, Black women earned the right to vote in 1965.

And yes, you could name your price and she’s paid it! Black women were valued and sold for more that young Black men as slaves because they could be raped and used to breed more slaves.

The Financial Genocide of Black Women

Today, what’s old is new again. And COVID-19 has unmasked the financial genocide of Black women. According to a 2020 analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Black women are typically paid 62 cents for every dollar paid to a White man. In some states Black women are paid as low as 51 cents for every dollar paid to a White man. The December 2020 unemployment numbers showed that women lost 156,000 jobs. Currently, 8.4 percent of Black women remain unemployed and the unemployment rates among Black women unemployed for more than six months is 40.8 percent. The pain is not only experienced by Black women who were employed and must stay home to educate their children, care for their loved ones or do both while working full time from home, but it is also felt by Black female business owners.

Here is a familiar expression: “When White America catches a cold, Black America catches the flu.” Five years prior to COVID-19 firms owned by women of color grew at a rate of 42 percent, while the number of women owned businesses in general grew 21 percent. In other words, Black women owned businesses were growing at twice the rate of women owned businesses employing 2,389,500 people, or 25 percent of the total women owned businesses with employees. But that was the flu!

In an American Express Report titled “The State of Women Owned Businesses Report”, minority women owned businesses generated an estimated $422 billion in revenue, while White women owned businesses generated an estimated $1.4 trillion in revenue. In other words if Black women owned businesses were supposed to catch the flu, I think they are now experiencing pneumonia! Here’s what’s up!

Who’s In Your Squad?

If you are going to achieve success a support system is crucial. Sometimes you are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that you miss the opportunity to do the right thing. Hearing the experiences and personal stories of other women of color will give strength to your voice.

With this in mind, women of color need to be more vocal and transparent with each other about what they have learned over the years. Anticipate difficult people along the way. I am not placing all the responsibility on younger women of color to reach out, but for there to be black girl magic there must be mentorship. Established Black women business owners need to reach out and reach back to younger women of color in order for them to be valued and respected in the market place.

Advocate For Yourself

You may be young or new to the game of entrepreneurship but just know that the first offer is never the one to take. Learn to take emotion out of the negotiation and assert yourself, your credentials, and the value you bring to the room or the job. Assume as a woman of color that they will offer you less so go in adding at least another 25 percent to the deal. Recognize that when you make progress and get the position you might be the only woman of color in the room. In order to be successful, go ahead and be yourself! Don’t try to be somebody else to fit in. You might be the only one in the room but get comfortable with that. Go ahead and celebrate your “only-ness”!

What’s the call to action this week in Black history month? Let’s bring awareness to the fact that women of color are compensated as low as 51 cents on each dollar compared to White women and men. I don’t just mean the minimum wage earner, but even you with the PhD. Even you are under compensated! Recognize this is not just a conversation to be had by women of color, but Black men need to join the advocacy. Let’s not get comfortable with this inequity. Instead, let’s hold businesses and even faith based institutions accountable.

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