An an article titled, I’m a Black Writer Suing Ebony for Unpaid Work. It’s Doesn’t Feel Good, a well-understood and uncomfortable truth was shone about how we expect top-notch business practices from members outside the black community, but apply massive tolerance for shady practices by our own. The author writes, “Protecting open secrets in the name of community is like sweeping glass with your bare hands. It’s unwise, impractical, and somebody always gets cut. I’m one of the writers who was cut in the aftermath of what is now simply known as #EbonyOwes. ”
Apparently #EbonyOwes at least $70,000 to it’s freelance writers. Before the hashtag, the uncomfortable truth and airing of dirty laundry allowed for Ebony to stiff it’s writers unchecked for what could have been years.(Full disclosure: I wrote a piece for Ebony’s online publication many moons ago but was paid within the normal standards of time). Before now, writers didn’t push out of guilt surrounding making the historical publication look bad.
I reached out to the EBONY contributors I knew and they all had the same story. Still waiting for payment months after invoicing. Some were waiting for hundreds. Others for thousands. “Oh, I thought you knew EBONY never actually pays their writers,” some of them said. “I thought you were just writing for them for the byline.” After several of those conversations it became clear that this was an open secret that remained protected because of the internal conflict of publicly outing a black-owned publication. The secrecy was understandable, but also allowed abuse to grow.
Think about this for moment. If there was a group of black writers not being paid by, say, Time magazine, folks would have been outside protesting after even one day the company defaulting on a payment. This would be a headline on the cable news circuit. Time would be in a world of hurt. But Ebony? They can get away with stiffing their freelance writers out of thousands and thousands before a humble Twitter hashtag exposes them.
Same goes for the pass we give with black hairstylists who overbook, don’t respect our time, and eat catfish lunches while blowdrying our hair and arguing with their baby daddy. If you dare complain about such abysmal treatment, you’re met with disinterest at the least, and outright belligerency at the worst. Even I tolerated this for far too long. Let me be a SuperCuts and be treated that way though and somebody would sweeping up a whole head of snacked hair off the floor.
When we grade the black community on a curve, nobody wins.
Follow Christelyn on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to our You Tube channel. And if you want to be a little more about this online dating thing, InterracialDatingCentral is the official dating site for this blog.