A week or so ago, I saw this posted on the internet:
When I saw it, I had a good chuckle. I thought “ain’t that the truth, Ruth!” Then I grew somber. It really was the truth. The job market is ridiculous right now, and because there is still a significant amount of people desperate for work, employers literally have the pick of the litter.
It’s even worse for Black folks, as the saying goes we are the last hired, first fired.
Since, I’ve gotten a graduate degree, I’ve been hustling to find steady work. There was a period where it was hard to find work due to being pregnant, but I was still open to answering phones, something. What I’ve come to realize, despite the rhetoric leveled at Black folks to get an education, stay out of trouble, etc. Is that, we still have to show up to interviews Black (if you get that far, sometimes they discard your application on name alone).
It’s always been amusing to me that white folks (and some non-Black folks) who are anti Affirmative Action, accuse the practice of favoring Black folks. Studies show it is actually white women have benefited the most from Affirmative Action.
I see this truth every time I have an interview. The majority of times I’m sitting in front of a white woman manager/supervisor. In my city, Portland, usually this means they are a self-described hipster/feminist/alternative/progressive who are for the empowerment of all women. Ironically, these white “progressive” women can be the worst. In that, they tend to take a paternalistic approach towards women of color…particularly Black women. Because Black women have historically been used as the antithesis of white womanhood (to justify our abuse/rape/exploitation during slavery), the majority do not know how to engage with Black women as equals.
I have sat in interviews with white women who had smirks on their faces, looks of amusement, or surprise that I was friendly/open. The stereotype is that Black women are rude/combative/joyless people. I have a friend who is a full-figured, dark-skinned woman. She once shared that her employer told her she couldn’t believe how sweet she was. My friend stated, “I guess because I’m a fat Black woman they expected me to be mean.”
Last month, Black women activists/feminists/workers celebrated Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. While most white feminists have finally caught on that Black women/women of color make even less than they do, there still tends to be a lack of collective support from white women on this issue. Many still see the issue of employment discrimination/wages as a generic “women’s issue.” They are hesitant to admit, that they do get better opportunities because of white privilege. The purpose of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day was to acknowledge the unique space Black women hold as women of color in the workforce.
As it goes, if you can make it through the application process with your ethnic name, survive an interview with a shady “progressive” white woman and get the job, you will get paid less money. Whether you have a degree or not.
It’s imperative the issue of under/unemployment and wage disparity are addressed in current women’s activism regarding Black women, as we often are the main caregivers in our households/communities.