The number of firms owned by women over the last decade rose 58%. The number of firms owned by Black women, in that same time period, rose by 164%. Black women are starting businesses at a higher rate than anyone else and Black men should pay attention. Men are generally taught that “women value security” and as such, the tidal wave of Black women opting for the insecurity of entrepreneurship is counterintuitive. It only makes sense when you factor in the inherent inequities Black women face in the workforce: Black women are doing it because they must.
Women make about 80 cents to every white man’s dollar. For Black women, however, the picture is much more bleak. Black women earn 39% less than white men and 21% less than white women. Despite collecting more college degrees than any other group, Black women still face barriers of racial and gender discrimination. In fact, the pay gap is largest for Black women who have bachelor’s or advanced degrees. Unlike their male counterparts, Black women also contend with the reality that having children will likely hinder their career advancement. Black women who want to truly earn what they are worth have no other choice but to do it on their own.
Entrepreneurship is often the only rational choice for many Black women, although it means insecurity and instability. Further, as Black women are disproportionately the sole breadwinner for their children, the stakes are high — very high. Entrepreneurship, for Black women, represents the elusive key to freedom and at the same time, the most perilous undertaking imaginable. Entrepreneurship often represents the one hope for Black women to fully capitalize on their skills, avoid workplace discrimination and build generational wealth. Entrepreneurship can also mean a gamble on the rent money, it simply depends on the day.
How can you support a sista? Compliments and affirming words are all fine but neither pays the bills. Companionship is certainly desirable and yet it does not give an answer to the greater need. Fellas, if you really desire to support a Black woman, just buy something.