Why I Always Have Two Jobs
Black people literally have to work twice as hard to get half as much
A version of this story originally appeared on the Medium blog, Capital Innovations @ Collab Capital.
Since I’ve been able to work, I’ve worked multiple jobs. During summers growing up, I worked in the businesses started by my grandparents in Mobile, AL and passed down to my father and his siblings. You could find me doing everything from working the register at their BP gas station to preparing sandwiches in my father’s Subway. When I went to college, despite having a full ride academic scholarship at Howard University, I took full advantage of work study opportunities — working “security” in the evenings at the School of Business and working in the afternoons as a part-time instructor at MS², Howard’s on campus Middle School for Math and Science. Even as I worked my first full-time job at Google, I moonlighted as a fashion model, signed to the now defunct, San Francisco based, City Model Management, and doing runway shows and local advertisements on the evenings and weekends to bring in an extra thousand dollars per month.
Fear of being stuck in a generational cycle of debt and financial insecurity or not having enough money to pursue my dreams has always been a driving force in my life and decisions.
When I was a little girl, I saw my mother work long hours to start her own business — an insurance agency that she’s now run for nearly 25 years. In the early days of her business, I saw her cry when she didn’t have enough money to pay herself, or when she couldn’t afford to enroll me in dance lessons because money was low. I saw her wrestle with the racism and prejudice she faced from customers and as new books of business were doled out — where she seemingly always got the scraps. In my teenage years, her business became more stable and prosperous as she grew her base of loyal customers and became a leader in the community.
At that same time I witnessed my father’s family businesses get squeezed out by large oil companies that had instituted discriminatory pricing, which did not leave room for a profit at the handful of gas stations our family owned. I saw the heartbreak my father endured as he lacked the resources he needed to fight to keep them alive.