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Why Personal Brands Are Important For Black Women Who Want To Diversify Their Income

Equal Pay Day is today and more than ever there is a need to make our companies aware of the pay gap that exists between men and women.

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Equal Pay Day is today and more than ever there is a need to make our companies and colleagues aware of the pay gap that exists between men and women.

It takes women 15 months to make what men make in a year, but for black women, it will take 19 months until we make what men make in 12 months. That means black women are making 63 cents to every dollar men make. The discussion continues each year around how to close the wage gap, offering solutions to getting women equal pay with many starting in the workplace.

For many black women, the workplace has been a difficult environment to gain promotions, salary raises, and visibility, which leaves money and opportunities on the table untouched by not feeling comfortable enough to advocate for ourselves and to show our worth. "For black women who are at the bottom of the food chain in terms of equal pay, we cannot afford to be modest; we can't afford to hide in plain sight. We have to get out front with our branding because other people are able to earn more by doing the same work as us so we need to at least try to level the playing field by making more noise about what we are capable of, what we have already done, and therefore what we can do," personal branding coach Amanda Miller Littlejohn shared.

"For black women who are at the bottom of the food chain in terms of equal pay, we cannot afford to be modest."

Amanda believes black women can take more control over their pay by taking more ownership of their personal brand. "Lagging behind both white men and white women in terms of equal pay, black and brown women can't afford to keep quiet when it comes to sharing our achievements and selling ourselves. By keeping our heads down, and working hard but not telling our stories, we miss out on promotions, new job leads, and clients. This adds up to thousands of potential additional dollars in missed earning power over our lifetimes," she stated.

Amanda created The Branding Box in 2014 after working with private personal branding and public relations clients as both a publicist and personal branding advisor. She noticed that there was a distinct framework that she created for her individual clients and decided to package her most common recommendations into a relatively inexpensive product that could help others build their personal brand. She later created the Package Your Genius Academy, to create a community and peer to peer learning opportunity for her clients. "I owe so much to my personal brand and I'm so happy to be able to earn a living and help to support my family from those efforts," she said.

With social media's wide range of tools and access to people from all over the world, black women are creating opportunities to not only live the life they want, but to gain the opportunities to build their authority in their industry and start up the businesses that they once dreamed of owning. In order to find success, those women had to build their personal brand and understand it.

Amanda shared some of her insight with us on ways you can begin building your personal brand:

Turn Your Digital Savvy Into Income & Opportunities

"One's personal brand is their reputation and the idea that the wider world has about them, their capabilities, their values, and their expertise. In the digital age, this is also your in-person reputation but also what can be found about you online. Just like your reputation, your digital presence as it relates to your personal brand can attract new opportunities to you when you're not in the room. While Black women over-index in our use of digital tools and social media platforms like Twitter, we don't always leverage our digital savvy to create income opportunities and career advancement for ourselves. Black women can begin to create a personal brand online by sharing who they are and what they know about the wider world. I personally have used personal branding and digital tools to connect with people all over the world and make the case for my business and give credibility to my expertise. Black women are traditionally pigeonholed into roles of the supporters, helpers, builders; but it's time for us to step out of those support roles and claim the recognition that we deserve so that we can earn more."

Don't Be Afraid to Share Your Good News

"One of the things I see most of my clients is a discomfort with the spotlight - a reticence to be out front with their accomplishments and share how amazing and qualified they are. It may come across as modesty and humility, but can be really damaging through the lifecycle of your career. If your colleagues, your superiors, and your wider industry do not know what you are capable of because you have failed to "share your good news" so to speak on any platform, be that through speaking, through media, or online through your LinkedIn profile, it will become extremely difficult for you to remain top of mind for new opportunities. So while you may think that being modest is endearing and 'appropriate,' ultimately, it renders you invisible to the very opportunities you seek."

Be Strategic & Goal-Oriented

"Where most people go wrong is not being intentional about building a personal brand, and for those who have set out to build their personal brand, they are not being strategic in terms of thinking about the types of opportunities or clients they want to attract. As you set out to build your brand, you should have some goals in mind, whether they are immediate or more long-term and related to a 1, 5, or 10-year plan."

Always Promote Your Brand

"Don't keep your head down and do good work for your company without seeking visibility opportunities outside of your immediate department and company. The same thing goes for creatives and entrepreneurs who may be working with clients: don't focus solely on doing such a great job for your clients at the expense of your personal brand. When those client engagements are over or should you lose your full-time role or be laid off or displaced, you will have to start from scratch if you have not been steadily building awareness of your gifts, skills, and talents. So essentially, don't wait to build your brand until you need it: steadily keep getting the word out about what you're passionate about and what you do best."

For more Amanda Miller Littlejohn and her bomb branding insight, follow her on Instagram.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
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