#InvestInEquity

In 2021 Why Are Black Media and Talent Still Fighting For Our Fair Share?

The fight for equity and economic justice continues

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s quote is spot on, “If my Black life matters, make sure I can take money home to feed my children.” Why are Black people and Black owned companies still fighting for equal pay and opportunities in 2021?

I’ve never been motivated by money — but fair and equal pay isn’t just about dollars — it’s about economic justice and that should be common sense.

No matter how humble or community focused I am — I’ve recently, had to face the reality that regardless of my level of discomfort with corporate and social media platforms, I’m still part of them. While I am independent of the company and laser focused on growing my community of fellow writers and editors of color (WEOC) — the reality is we’re all in it, too. So while I’m here, I’m working hard to make sure we all get the support and resources we need to succeed — but others may not see it that way… For me, being a cofounder of a collective is an honor because I’ve found my voice and my tribe with WEOC and we’re learning as we go.

Most of us write and get paid on Medium…That’s a fact, but there are many questions about Medium and similar platforms in terms of the algorithms, metrics and fee structure. Who determines who and how much someone is paid — whose voice is more valuable? Does mainstream media really want the truth if it hurts their bottom line? Or is fluff, and surface level stuff really what profits are made of?

Today, I’m focused on the media industry. The more I learn and try to cultivate relationships with other creators, and Black owned media companies — there are two recurring themes:

  • Lack of transparency and equity in funding, contracts and pay
  • Independence by choice and force to guarantee true freedom of voice, perspective, fair and equitable treatment, access and reach

To keep talking about inequities in any business sector without addressing intentional, historical, and systematic race, sex and class based economic injustice and the adverse effects and impact on individuals, Black owned businesses, our communities and the global markets - is an injustice within itself.

In 2021, why isn’t economic justice part of corporate pledges for diversity, equity and inclusion? Don’t just hire Black talent and companies, pay us the same as our white counterparts.

When companies like Coca Cola paused advertising on social media, but didn’t divert funds to smaller Black owned media companies or even discuss a plan to do so in the future — it’s disheartening.

When Leslie Odom, Jr. had to demand the same pay that CAA/Disney gave a white, male lead from a live production of Grease — it’s insulting. Leslie Odom, Jr.’s quote is spot on, “If my Black life matters, make sure I can take money home to feed my children.” Why are Black people and Black owned companies still fighting for equal pay and opportunities in 2021?

Why are Black and brown people always expected to accept “the honor” to be part of big corporations or prestigious events — when our white counterparts are honored and paid for their time and talents?

Representation matters, too…Do you realize there isn’t a daily, Black owned news show on a major network?

There’s a lack of transparency in big media companies and I think that’s on purpose, but also good place to start. All companies need to be transparent about their actual investments in diversity, equity and inclusion with compensation and their marketing and advertising dollars.

Paying Black and brown people and companies equal or fair compensation shouldn’t be an afterthought or problem. In 2021 — why isn’t economic justice part of corporate pledges for diversity, equity and inclusion? Don’t just hire Black and brown talent and companies, give us equal compensation, access, support and respect -not because we’re Black, but because we’re worth it and deserve it — just like everyone else.

The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute’s members Rhonesha Byng, Devon Christopher Johnson, Anastasia Williams and Kay Luca created a list of 97 Black owned media companies this gives me hope but, we as Black creators, business owners and consumers need to support each other.

This list has inspired me to learn more and I hope to see partnerships and collaborations between the companies on the list and others that aren’t like Kaepernick Publishing who partnered with Medium and serves on the board or Complex Media from Torraine Walker.

Here is a link to Kaepernick’s first project with Medium:

And here is Chuck Modi’s interview on Complex Media about citizen journalism. I’ll be exploring this concept in my next piece.

Media fam, #WEOC folk we’ve got to stay focused on our individual and collective goals because we need each other to learn, grow and succeed. There is room for everyone eat well and prosper if we adopt a spirit of collaboration over competition (unknown).

John Maxwell said it best, “teamwork makes the dream work”.

I look forward to see how Coca Cola, Disney and other big brands and political campaigns #InvestInEquity with their marketing budgets and we will talking and writing about it.

Thank you for reading.

Writer, Founder WEOC and Editor of Writers and Editors of Color Mag Bylines in Zora, Momentum, An Injustice!, POM, Illumination, The Pink, and Better Marketing

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