A Woman’s Worth

Raise your hand if you work in corporate America and have spent time trying to, “prove your worth.” Employers love to question what their employees, “bring to the table,” rarely offering up any real gourmet dishes of their own.

Spoiler Alert Corp. America: Healthcare is my right as a human being, your benefits package isn’t *really* impressive given that context. If you are a black or non-black woman or femme of color there is even less at the table for us.

We must do twice as much with half the pay. We must be twice as clever with half (or none) of the credit. No room for mediocrity when you are playing monolith for your entire culture/gender/community, in white-washed industries all across America. Remove dollar signs  from that chart below and “benefits” for every time a person can add a multiple jeopardy.

Chart 3. Median usual weekly earnings of women and men who are full-time wage and salary workers, by race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2014 annual averages

On top of all of this, my recent endorsement of Safety Pin Box has reinforced my opinion that black-owned business will always be under more scrutiny and judged more harshly than any other. The standards for an “acceptable business endeavor” is also set much higher and the goal post is constantly moving for people of color. I have heard, “Where is the money going?!!” in response to this service constantly. To which I always respond, “in a for-profit business, usually in the founder’s pocket, where it belongs.” That’s how the fuck business works. Supply and demand.

In a world where people get away with selling “haunted dolls” for more than $300, I can’t really wrap my head around the negative response to the Safety Pin Box service. I digress, I do understand why black women leading and profiting from their expertise makes people uncomfortable.

Misogynoir.

Women of color don’t get top dollar for anything, not only that, we are challenged for even daring to ask for it. If I was paid my full rate for every time a client asked me to lower my rates or take on a larger role with more responsibilities and no additional pay, I’d never have to work again.

I wade through a shit-ton of self-doubt and impostor syndrome because of all the people along the journey in my career who unfairly questioned my competency and my worth. You can see this reflected in some of my earliest writing. It is riddled with insecurities.

Eventually, I pushed past it, realizing, I can’t trust a system, that has historically never valued me. I certainly can’t rely on this system to appropriately measure my worth and then be willing to compensate me appropriately. Especially when it sets my worth by arbitrary, patriarchal, predominantly cis-hetero normative, mostly racist standards. I have long ago decided to divest from trying to prove my worth to corporate America and by extension white America.

“What is your value add?” is a trick question that has no real answer because the question isn’t meant to be answered, it is meant to keep me from my greatness while I search for my receipts to satisfy someone/thing that wont ever be satisfied because they never valued me to begin with.

Women of color owes this world not a single fucking thing, least of all proof of our worth. We have been devalued and diminished throughout history. WE ARE OWED. Not the other way around.

I have conversations with my sisterhood all the time around these realities and it is to them I am speaking now:

Do not allow anyone to cheapen you. Do not permit a single soul to tell you that your excellence comes at too high a price. They are not connected to your flesh and bones and lived experiences. This world has given them a short-sighted idea of what is valuable. You matter, your magic is real, and you are magnificent. Fuck the naysayers right to hell!

 

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