During the 60th Grammy Awards, the topic of the entertainment industry’s sexual harassment issues and pay gap disparity was largely ignored. That was until, Janelle Monáe broke through.
As usual, it took a Black woman to bring an issue to the forefront of public interest. Janelle Monáe used her introduction of Kesha to convey a simple, yet powerful message:
“We come in peace, but we mean business. To those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up. We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind, and time’s up for the abuse of power. Because you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo a culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.“
After Kesha’s performance and Janelle’s mini-speech I began to wonder: Are black women included in the narrative of change or are we simply inspiring/leading it?
“Time’s Up” has been the rallying cry since the wave of sexual assault allegations and pay disparities began. Sadly, time may be up for some, but not all.
During the last few weeks numerous stories have been reported on the disparaging pay gap for black creatives, especially black women. From Golden Globe winner Tracee Ellis Ross to Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and many more, black women are being paid far less than what they are worth.
Tracee Ellis Ross, a Time’s Up founder, had her own pay disparity come to light when it was reported that Anthony Anderson, who also serves as executive producer of Black-ish, receives a significantly higher salary than her. Of course, many said she should be content with the salary she’s making. These people failed to understand that she merely wanted fair compensation for her ACTING contributions to the show especially because she is the only one who has taken home a win at the Golden Globes. (In 2016, she was awarded a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical TV series, becoming the first black woman in 35 years to win in that category.)
The Golden Globe winner tweeted: “I wanted to be compensated in a way that matches my contribution to a show that I love for many reasons, including the opportunity it allows me to reshape what it is to be a fully realized black woman on TV.”
Ross’ story is a sad reminder of the fact that though black women are quick to speak up for change, we are oftentimes still not on the receiving end of it, even when we are at the top of our industry.
In case people believed this was a one-off issue, Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer shared her own pay disparity story and how she was able to combat it. Her co-star, Golden Globe winner, Jessica Chastain helped her secure 5 times her rate by tying their deals together. The silver lining in this is that Chastain used her position as an ally to actually enact change that the movement she's tied herself to calls for. Spencer securing the rate she deserves should be the norm, not exception.
In reference to these women and others, there are many who feel they should be happy with what they are earning. I pose the question, “If you know you’re worth $10 million, why would you allow anyone to lessen your worth by paying you $300,000?” All money isn’t good money.
As a black woman, who has had her own struggles with getting paid what she is worth, it is exhausting to explain to non-black people and even our black men that this is a real issue. Black women get paid less than white men, women and sometimes even black men.
@@Black women are leading the charge for change and it’s time for us to be positively affected by the campaigns we are championing.@@
Take the time to educate yourself and understand the plight of black women, especially in the realm of finances. We can shift these problems by tackling them in our own industries. Know your value, negotiate and don’t settle for less. Don’t allow Becky and Johnny to receive what they don’t deserve or allow others to devalue your worth by selling you short on what it is.
Header image: GIPHY