In celebration of Women’s History month, we revisit a timely and deeply personal essay by journalist Jennifer Marby outlining why equal opportunity in 21st Century America – particularly for Black women – remains a myth.
Marby, who outlines her own career trajectory where she “did everything [she] was supposed to as assurance that the solidly middle-class upbringing [she] was born into would seamlessly continue…” left her deeply disillusioned. She writes in the New York Observer:
I earned advanced degrees—a doctorate in communication and a master’s in television, radio and film—from highly recognized public and private institutions, but I have achieved minimal success and I am not living the American dream.
Marby who is diligent in outlining statistics and empirical evidence in addition to telling her own story, shows why Black women are not winning.
….We remain disproportionately unemployed as compared to our white counterparts. Figures from the last quarter of 2013 show the unemployment rate for white women at 5.8 percent compared to 10.5 percent for black women. Meanwhile, white women earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar white men earn, for black women it’s 68 cents.
Further, Marby takes umbrage to the fact that many, including President Barack Obama—despite living “with four black women spanning three generations”—are not focused on black women in word or deed. Policies such as the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative (MBK), which focuses solely on black men, ignores black women’s very real needs.
The mythical, long-held rationale for ignoring the plight of black women and girls has been that we are better off and more resilient than black men and boys; and that somehow, magically, the implementation of programs for one group will trickle down and eventually benefit the other group.
Statistical and empirical evidence, however, show this is not true.