You must live under a rock if you haven't seen Tariji P. Henson speaking out about the unfair payment and treatment of women of color in Hollywood. Her message rings loud and clear in the ears of many Black women because we KNOW exactly what she is saying without her even uttering another word. In fact, I can visualize most of us nodding our heads in agreement while looking at one her many interviews on television. Even after recently starring in the new adaptation of "The Color Purple" and starring in many acclaimed movies and television shows, Tariji is still asking the question many of us are afraid to ask - "Haven't I paid my dues in full?" She is asking the same question Monique, the comedian and actress, asked and was ostracized and criticized for asking it. It's a question some of us fear to ask on our jobs for fear of retaliation and mistreatment.
But, here's the thing...Black women have overpaid our dues a long time ago. Some of us have had to raise families without the help of fathers. We have had to train supervisors who were less qualified than us. We have had to raise the children and clean the houses of other women, and yes, we have even been experimented on, without our consent, for the advancement of medicine! If we are waiting on "society" to see us as equally qualified, talented, skilled, and capable as our counterparts, we will be waiting forever! So, let's collectively ask ourselves what do we truly care about and why?
This is the question that may release someone from being held captive by a deaf audience. You see, I am retired now, but prior to retiring I worked my way up to Senior Program Analyst, which was a high-paying salary. I was a diligent and dedicated worker and took pride in any program or project I managed. But, now that I've had some time to sit with myself, I realize that I spent an unnecessary amount of time and energy trying to prove an obvious point...trying to prove that I was just as intelligent and qualified as my colleagues and that I deserved to be in the room. I found myself wanting the "award" more than I wanted the "reward." Operating in this self-depriving way was problematic, exhausting, and stressful. If I had asked myself every morning, "What do I truly care about and why?", I would have found peace of mind by knowing my worth. Today, my response to this question is locked and loaded: "I care about myself because I am worthy of success and happiness." This response is what lead me to try my hand at entrepreneurship in 2021, like so many of other Black women.
In retrospect, 2021-2023 seemed to be years of self-discovery for most of us. Relatively, 2024 seems to be the year of truth-telling. So, here's our truth: Black women are the most resilient, most caring, most intelligent, most talented, most creative, most "get it from the mud" human beings on this earth! We may be imitated, but we will NEVER be duplicated. Therefore, our salaries should reflect what we individually bring to the table. Most importantly, Black women do not owe anyone more than what we have to give, and we certainly don't have to prove anything to anyone. So, the next time someone tries to make you cash-in on your abilities, just say "Oh, Honey...Check your records...I'm paid in full."