So much of online culture is gleaned from Black creators, yet these creators often receive little to no credit in return—financial or otherwise.
Growing awareness of the inequalities faced by Black creators has grown following the high-profile deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and so many others. The “racial reckoning of 2020” included social upheaval and calls for change, action, equality and justice resulting in sustained and impactful shifts within the community, among consumers and businesses in countless industries.
Yet, those changes in some instances were short lived, often never even taking hold. The recognition of Black creators is a murky area in which so many influencers were highlighted fleetingly in media, social platforms and by corporations before often being overlooked and overshadowed once more, as white counterparts continued to be celebrated. Not only are Black creators, once again, less likely to be recognized, but the disparities in pay continue to exist.
Black creators make significantly less income than their white counterparts. A recent study by MSL U.S. in partnership with the Influencer League found there is a 29 percent pay gap between white influencers and Black, indigenous or other people of color. Between, white and Black influencers, the gap in pay increased to 35 percent. Nearly 50 percent of the Black influencers who participated in study noted race played a key role as to why their services fall below market value.
The world is full of Black creators, like filmmakers, producers, musicians, authors, television writers, fashion gurus, entrepreneurs, inventors and more. Unfortunately, there is a pay gap in each of these industries, and it can be very frustrating for these great creators. So how can systemic injustices and racial pay disparities impacting black creators be addressed?
Own your work
There is great power in ownership. Creators should become well versed in their industries, and the respective rules which apply for owning your products, services, creative works and more. As the owner of Darick Books and my intellectual property, I self-publish every book that is written and control every element of my products. When you own your work, you can set the price, control the budget, secure the team of your choice with relevant and applicable talent, how much you will compensate and how much compensation you will receive, among other critical roles an owner must play. As an owner you can better dictate the use of your works in relevant industries and demand compensation for its use as appropriate.
Know Your Worth
Black creators are “the influencers of influencers” and the foundation from which culture and society evolves. We have a lasting and critical impact on how companies choose to market products and services, how consumers digest those messages and how companies and consumers communicate, translate and consume countless mediums. It is crucial that Black creators know, recognize and understand the role their contributions can and will make on society at large. Equally as important is to have a good grasp on how much the industry pays for similar works. That knowledge will enable them to truly be able to set prices, manage expectations and demand appropriate compensation for their work.
Closed mouths don’t get fed. If you want more money for yourself as a creator, then demand it.
Work smarter and harder
Hard work is still respected and can get you places. Marrying that hard work with smart work can only produce excellence. No matter what industry you are a creator in, excellence stands superior to all. Your work can and will speak for itself. While it can often be frustrating to see others zip past with seeming success, remember you and what you bring to the table are timeless, not a passing trend.
Understand the gap
Great entrepreneurs can find a problem in the world and offer a solution. Black creators can do the same. Find the gap in your industry and offer a solution with your own unique spin.
While disparities in pay likely won’t be addressed overnight, the changes Black creators are demanding will come more expeditiously with persistence, collaboration and ownership. The black voice is the underlying influence to so much. Onlookers may not be able to see it, but without it, the garment will fall apart. Know that society needs you. Know that our community requires you. Don’t settle until you get what you deserve.