And I won’t ask for your permission
The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. — Malcolm X
I have learned, in these last five months after venturing into applying for writing positions (once again), that as a Black woman in America, this industry is crucial — a rigorous trail of dangerous terrain, and many of us will not pull away from it without broken ankles or worse — a broken spirit.
I have applied to countless organizations, entities, magazines, and journals. I have updated, tweaked, upgraded, and enhanced my résumé hundreds of times. I have submitted examples of my writing, samples of copy as per requests, and details of my experience and longevity within the industry. Yet, I stand before you, jobless in the field I have dreamed of making my full-time career choice.
I want to tell you that this is my first time with these results, but it is not. And I know I am not the only one. The older I become, the harder it is to gain traction in the world of creative arts — particularly literary content, and every time I find the strength to give it one more go at it, I get the wind knocked completely out of my sails.
So, what is different this time around? I know what I can offer. I am aware of my potential. I am not afraid of a challenge or hard work. I can pursue intense and controversial topics, interview big names relative to various subjects, and do all of this in a way that will connect the reader and bring them back continually.
However, I have gotten several proverbial doors slammed in my face because I do not fit the model the company seeks; I am not interested in writing solely for marketing purposes. I refuse to write about or attach my name to something I do not believe in or advocate for, and the list goes on.
The tables they have designed for those seeking to eat among their peers have no more room. Or is it simply what they lead us to believe?
Why are we almost always at the bottom regarding pay in most job markets?
I work full-time in healthcare. I am a central scheduling specialist for radiology. To make it plain, I schedule radiology scans and interventional radiology/invasive procedures for our patients. The job is not one for the weary or faint of heart.
I commend my love of words and for people regarding my ability to build rapport, remain empathetic, and ensure a timely and effective scheduling process for our patients.
I will be honest. The pay is not what I would envision for the tasks and overall processes we have to endure, but I love my job.
Am I stressed out on some days? Sure. Do I wish it would get better for me and my co-workers? I do. Would I want to do this job with any other group of people? No, I would not.
The people I share these tasks with are exceptional and we are a rainbow of glorious individuals who show up daily to do what we do best; give patients a remarkable radiology scheduling experience.
Healthcare has been the backbone and most convenient way to keep me afloat, while writing always held its own on the sidelines. I have never gained enough to fully sustain and live comfortably from writing.
You may be saying to yourself, “Why do you think this should change?” I have always felt my heart speaks more when I am writing. My mind is at ease — anxiety is curbed significantly.
And the monetary comparisons are laughable. I can earn more by editing and publishing, and submitting commissioned articles in one month (whenever applicable) than I can in healthcare scheduling.
When I step back and look at the overall differences in pay gaps and wages for White men, Black men, White women, and Black women, I am left speechless.
In an article by Michelle Holder entitled, Addressing the ‘double gap’ faced by Black women in the U.S. economy, the author states:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed this double gap in June 2020, releasing data on average weekly and annual salaries broken out by race and gender:
White Men: $1,115 weekly, $58,000 annually
Black Men: $828 weekly, $43,000 annually
White Women: $929 weekly, $48,300 annually
Black Women: $779 weekly, $40,500 annually
This is wage inequality by race and gender in a nutshell. — Michelle Holder, November 30, 2021
We, Black women, are at the bottom. The average salary for a healthcare scheduling specialist position in North Carolina is $16.19 per hour as of August 22, 2022, according to Zippia.
If we go further into it, for my state alone, we share the bottom rungs with Hispanic women and Hispanic men, with women of color making up about 35% in North Carolina.
If the current trends continue, working women in North Carolina will not see equal pay until 2060! — NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement
Where is the fairness in the statement above? Will there ever be pay equity for women, more specifically, Black women?
I have to be a sounding board for others and bring my table when there are no more seats left
Although I have not gotten my seat at the table of writing, I am making moves in order to bring my own table and invite others to sit with me too. I am unafraid to be vulnerable and authentic. I share my experiences. I let people into the parts of my world where I feel a connection will take place.
“When one door closes, another one opens.” In my case, I can say, “When hundreds of doors are closed before you, build your own, then knock it down.”
I have this unstoppable quality marked into my making, and I cannot see myself “taking a knee” because I am being forced to.
Women writers outnumber men writers in the United States of America. However, we are still paid $0.96 to their $1.00.
- There are over 46,256 writers currently employed in the United States.
- 53.8% of all writers are women, while 46.2% are men.
- The average age of an employed writer is 41 years old.
- The most common ethnicity of writers is White (78.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (7.4%) and Black or African American (6.0%).
- The majority of writers are located in New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA.
- Writers are most in-demand in New York, NY.
- Writers are paid an average annual salary of $66,143.
The above stats have been derived from Zippia and are the most recent analysis for Writer demographics by gender, location, and race.
I will not ask for your permission. I don’t need it.
Many writers come and go. I have broken bread with editors, authors, poets, and content creators. I converse with struggling journalists, Black women in Tech, and Black women freelance writers. The “game” was not designed for us to be on top.
No one will say this out loud — this information is the “quiet part” about which we should not speak. It is a thing someone continually forces us to move through, and when we arrive, they mount another obstacle for us to maneuver.
There are countless Black women in various job markets who can stand in front of you and say they have had to pivot to entrepreneurship because no one else would hire them. They are carving out spaces for themselves because countless doors have been closed in their face. They are currently pulling themselves up into the spotlight and bringing a few of their colleagues along because they know what the struggle entails.
I am at the age now where I fervently believe that it is high time for me to construct my table, sit it alongside the path of others, and help catapult Black women writers to where they want to be.