Written by Penelope Farthing
I was inspired to write this blog after a rather bizarre yet interesting exchange I saw take place in our comment section. If you didn’t know, Christelyn has a variety of courses targeted at black women, whether it is her ultra-successful Pink Pill, helping black women to navigate life like pros, to online dating decoded, and others. The course in questions that came up in the social media rotation was one geared at older black women who wanted to test the interracial dating waters, and it is retailing for $150. If you are interested, you can check it out here.
Because of the amount of vitriol being spewed on the post, I felt compelled to write about it, because it speaks to a bigger problem when it comes to black women who charge for a service geared towards fellow black women. This also applies to black owned businesses as a whole.
Before I get into this, I gotta ask.
Do you turn up to work in your scheduled working pattern, be it a 9 to 5, or some other arrangement, for the warm fuzzy feeling you get from a job well done? Are you satisfied with your boss saying “Good job, girl!” with no direct impact to your checking account balance? Do you clock in because you just looooove commuting and fighting traffic and sitting under those ghastly fluorescent lights for 8 to 12 hours of your day? Is waking up at dark o’clock something you do for the fun of it? And do you come home exhausted, mentally, physically, or both, because you have nothing better to do with your time?
Alternately, does the electric company or the water company or lil Miss Sallie Mae give you a pass every month on that bill? Does Comcast say “hey girl, have this WiFi on the house!” Is Kroger or Winn Dixie in the business of handing out monthly grocery $500 gift cards so your fridge and pantry can be fully stocked? Is Sprint or Verizon handing out the latest iPhone for the low, low price of $0, just because they love having you as a customer?
I am struggling to see the disconnect here. I am 100% sure that none of the detractors commenting on that post are out here working for free. Not one. Zero. Zip. Zilch. So why on earth do you expect a fellow black woman who has bills just like you, responsibilities just like you, and needs and wants just like you, to turn up for free? Why? Please explain this to me. Why should Christelyn give this resource away for free ninety-nine? I genuinely do not understand so I’m turning it over to you. Please help a girl out.
People were taking offense to the fact that Christelyn had the nerve! The audacity! The gall! To charge for a product that she painstakingly put together.
But the thing is, this is Chris’ business. A part of business, a huge part, in fact, is the exchange of money for a service. Though the collective tries to treat them as one, black businesses are not social programs. Not because we’re all black means you are owed the product or service. Melanin discounts aren’t a thing.
As a consumer, you have exactly two options. Purchase the thing, or don’t purchase the thing. However, one additional option that some commenters availed themselves of was to complain about the service, despite not needing, using, or knowing anything about the service. Because they have been successfully swirling for years and decades, they don’t see the need for such a course. But, here’s a hot tip: you are not the market then, are you?
Since entering the dating market all those years ago, I have only dated interracially, and now I’m married interracially too. You know how gay people say they are a gold star when they have never had a relationship with the opposite sex? I’m a gold star swirler by their turn of phrase. But guess what! Not everyone is like me, and not everyone is open to casting a wide net amongst ALL available options rather than just one subcategory. I understand the need for such a service to exist, even though I don’t need it myself. However, even if I was opposed to the course for whatever reason, what is there to gain from leaving nasty comments for potential clients to see? Who benefits from that act of sabotage? What itch does that scratch?
Black women are the least likely to date out, for a myriad of reasons. As such, Christelyn developed this course for anyone interested in such a service. Mind you, this is a course that is completely optional. Enrollment and payment is not required to make use of all her FREE content, such as her YouTube channel or this very blog, both of which have over a decade of FREE content. If the price has got you so concerned, there’s all that other stuff you can have. .For free.
I am an awful cook. Terrible. The quintessential Karen with her raisins-in-the-potato-salad would be a hit compared to whatever I would make. I am not proud of my ineptitude in this area, but it is a statement of fact. But guess what! My husband is a great cook, and it just comes naturally to him. He never took any culinary classes or anything like that. All he needs are some ingredients and a heating element. But when I signed up to take a cooking course last year, he didn’t say “I don’t know why you even want that, I know how to cook, you don’t need a $150 course to show you how to make high quality chicken/steak/whatever else. Why? Because what comes easily to some people, what you might consider as something that is just second nature, innate, may be complete Greek to someone else.
How is this any different from when a black woman comes to this, a primarily swirling platform, and says “I don’t know why you have to swirl, I found my Good Black Man”, completely dismissing the years of statistics, studies, and evidence that supports why a black woman would choose to open her dating and mating options?
Could there be something bigger at play here? In my opinion, at the core, I don’t think black women like other black women to succeed at something they don’t think is worth being successful in. The attitude is that because they didn’t need a swirling guide, the very notion is absurd to them, and they believe that anyone else who might think about partaking in such a guide is stupid. They think that the creator is scamming, and they see themselves as an angel from on high, warning people about the perils that may befall them if they decide to go ahead with the purchase.
This is not unique to Christelyn. Kendall St. Charles has frequently discussed the pushback she got when she decided to put a Paypal button as a prerequisite to get access to her teaching. Meanwhile, black women will gladly pay nonblack women into the thousands of dollars, euros, pounds and yen for something they want badly enough, even without any sort of guarantee. Remember Benny Harlem? Despite his social media presence looking more CGI than actual person, black women rushed out and bought his follicular salad dressing, for $300 and it sold out in FIFTY NINE SECONDS. He was rightfully dragged at the time, and yet black women are still in his comments on Instagram trying to buy his Magical Hair Serum.
But a black woman offering something and seeking to profit from it? Nah, if she really cared about black women, she’d just give her shit away, right? With attitudes like that, is it any wonder that a black dollar does not get to bounce even once within the black community, whereas a Jewish dollar bounces eighteen times before leaving? Yet we complain about our inability to build black wealth. Funny how that works.
If you were with me up until this point, this may be where I lose you. Apologies in advance. If people are being so disrespectful in the comment section for free, of course a charge should be levied. It’ll price out people who seek to derail and sow seeds of discord. I hate to say it, but black women can be hard to work with, so being compensated for the unique challenges that come exclusively with a black female clientele should be par for the course.
Tell me, when Steve Harvey put out “Act like a woman, think like a man”, was that out of the kindness of his heart, or to get paid?
Can you just go to your local Barnes and Noble and pick up a self-help book, authored by anybody of any race, and walk out without paying? I mean, you’re helping yourself to that book! Is that not the very definition of self help?
No. You can’t. So the same goes for Christelyn, whether you like it or agree with it or not.
Why does the improvement of black women need to come to the masses free of cost? It takes money to put courses together, time to research, and marketing it is not free. Black women don’t demand anything from anyone else, but everything from her fellow black women. Why? No seriously, why?
I wonder, if the people who commented on that post so negatively go to nonblack owners of businesses predominantly frequented by black people to trash them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen black women up under the comments of Her Given Hair, an Asian-owned wig and weave company (masquerading as black owned in my opinion), tearing them down, demanding they lower their prices or give away units because black women are struggling and can’t afford $500 wigs. The odd one or two comments will say that they can get the same thing on AliExpress for cheaper (more on that later). But more often than not, they’ll say the price is too high, yes, but they’ll also say how beautiful the units are, lament that it is not in budget, and be on their way.
Meanwhile, black women’s addiction to wigs and weaves are putting whole families of Asian children through Ivy League education, and no one bats an eye. But oh nooo, Chris is charging $150 for something, sharpen your pitchforks!
Now, if a black woman is charging something higher than the expected price to install that wig or weave, however, what do you see?
“My cousin does the same thing for way less!”
“I don’t know why you’re charging so much; I can do the same thing at home!”
“Anyone who uses her for that service is a straight fool!”
And so on.
Why is the fee for a product made or service rendered by nonblack people inherently accepted, and the product produced by black women in particular inherently questioned? If you were one of the commenters up under that post questioning the premise, do ask yourself those questions. What is it about the course being offered that merited such heated reactions?
If you were a business owner, how would you react to someone up under your innocuous post aiming to drag you for all to see?
Other commenters proudly proclaimed that they could do what is in the course, for free. Mind you, they don’t know what’s even included, but they can say with certainty that they can match what’s in there. Is it just me, or isn’t that rather tacky? Badmouthing other creators is not a good way to draw people in.
They can do it, and yet…where is it? The pie is big enough for everyone, so if people want to get their slice, there is more than enough room. But to insult and degrade someone in favor of a product you say you can do, but have yet to publish, seems counterproductive. Since you can do the same thing, and better, for cheaper, why not? It’s still January, New Year’s resolution season is still in full swing, and that sounds like a great business idea to work on while it is fresh. There are millions of black women that could benefit from the wisdom you have to offer. Plus, with the services being provided for free, it would be no time at all before a following was amassed and could transition into other opportunities.
Perhaps this is another form of the virulent jealousy black women possess. They are ragingly jealous that yes, other women see value in what Christelyn is offering and yes, they will pay for her efforts. Jealous that they didn’t think of it first, perhaps. Maybe this is how their jealousy manifests – jealous that Christelyn can put out content and earn a living online while they have to use more traditional, less glamorous means to stay gainfully employed. It may not look like work because Chris appears on camera perfectly poised and put together, but it most certainly is work. Not to mention, the aspect of emotional work that results from the very people she set out to help in the first place seeking to besmirch her efforts.
And finally, here’s a reminder. Counting someone else’s money won’t make you any richer. Christelyn is offering a product that you don’t actually have to purchase. You don’t even have to acknowledge its existence if you don’t want to. A literal decade of free content is at your disposal if you are vehemently opposed to that aspect of her business model. Coming to the comment section of a Facebook page that you chose to join to complain, not about the content of the course, but rather, its existence, is unnecessary, and we can, and should, do better.
Have you seen behaviors like this play out in other black-owned business spaces? How did it go? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Penelope, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.