I’m frustrated by all this talk of pay inequality in Hollywood because it’s mostly just that — talk.
You may have heard Chris Rock essentially tell Jennifer Lawrence to shut up because black women struggle more than white women in Hollywood. Yes, in the hierarchy of people who have it bad, black women suffer in America. There is no doubt that they experience challenges that no middle-class white woman could ever understand. African-American women have the worst health outcomes. Access to capital is atrocious. They are often given the toughest prison sentences. Moreover, credit scores (which are unfair and worthy of another seething blog post) are also the worst.
The struggles of black women in America should be recognized and addressed. Conversations are a good start.
I dislike leaving the conversation there because you know who also suffers in our society? Black men and women with disabilities. And Latino veterans. Also, anyone living in Owsley, an Appalachian county in Kentucky that has the lowest median household income in the United States. (The Daily Mail reports that 41.5% of residents fell below the poverty line in 2012.)
Conversations, especially those online, are terribly ineffective at promoting change. Most people cannot break the plane of their perspectives. Instead of looking up to hold someone accountable, or looking down to demonstrate empathy and lend a helping hand, they look horizontally and say, “I have it worse than you.”
You might have it worse than someone else. We should talk about those challenges. Discussion and awareness are necessary and significant steps that lead to familiarity, commonality, and reciprocity. You need to understand what you’re fighting against in order to win.
However, conversation without action is useless.
While you are distracted and bickering about who has it worse among 99% of Americans, the people in power are basically laughing at us. They are happy to underwrite diversity forums, academic conferences on inclusion, and television shows with a few minority characters. It keeps us gazing at our navels and talking about ourselves and not acting on systemic problems — and it’s cheaper than implementing real change, as well.
Do you want to fix gender inequality and change the world? Get angry and get focused. If you work anywhere in HR, get promoted and hold people accountable for pay inequality and blatant executive theft. Most importantly, get off Facebook. While you are watching one actor bicker with another actor, your paycheck is stolen right from under your nose.