In general, people display high morals and values and sometimes offer their services, advice or suggestions without payment in return. While this gesture is very nice, it’s not, by any means, typical. For some races and gender, this “freebie” is considered the norm, at least by those who aren’t the race or gender in question. There is nothing wrong with people of color making money or selling information while also helping their black community at the same time.
Unfortunately, it has become almost normal for Black people to be asked or pressured to provide free or extremely low-paying services. It is a condition that needs to be unlearned. We must change the narrative and move from identifying experts as “Black volunteers” as “Black business owners.”
African Americans, like myself, have spent years sacrificing, investing in schools, being in organizations, working on campaigns, working jobs and internships to earn our expertise. At the end of the day, the blood, sweat, and tears accumulate into value, even if it’s not recognized. These experts have paid to attend universities to earn degrees, pay for vocational schools to learn hard skills, and pay for many other programs to earn certifications, licenses, etc. Why is it different and less legitimate when it’s people of color offering these services or products? When African Americans go through the entire system and survive and thrive despite all coordinated efforts to undermine us, it is insulting to expect our services for free.
In addition to the expectation of doing work for free, women earn $.82 for every $1.00 a man earns, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that may seem alarming, Black and Latina women with a bachelor’s degree have a gap of 65%. Black women with advanced degrees earn 70% of what white men earn with advanced degrees. In fact, most women, in general with advanced degrees, earn less than white men with only a bachelor’s degree. Does having the same education and training not have the same value as it relates to men and women? In that case, it might as well be considered a volunteer.
Written by Courtney Henderson