Celebrating Black Business Month: Uplifting Disabled Black Trans Freelancers & Entrepreneurs
August 24, 2023
By Mo Viviane (they/them), Program Manager for Trans Employment Project
The month of August is about celebrating Black Business Month! It’s essential to recognize and uplift the incredible contributions of Black Trans businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs in the business world. As the Program Manager for Trans Employment Project, I am connected with many talented Black business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs leaning into the world of meaningful work. It’s important to highlight these stories and successes of Black Trans, Intersex, and Gender-Expansive folks. We consistently foster a more inclusive and equitable business environment, one that celebrates diversity and empowers Black Trans people in all areas of the workplace and business environments!
The Intersection of Identity
Being a Black Trans person from the South, I face many unique challenges arising from the intersections of my race, gender identity, and disability. Relatedly, many in my community face similar issues, such as discrimination and systemic barriers that have hindered our access to opportunities despite our immense talent and creativity. By acknowledging and addressing these issues, WE CAN ALL create a more supportive ecosystem that allows Black Trans business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to thrive.
Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship
Historically, entrepreneurship and business management have offered me a promising path to gain financial independence and pursue my passions, especially as a Black Queer Trans Disabled person. In 2021, I went from being completely unemployed, with no means or access to employment opportunities, not only because we were living through the COVID pandemic, but because I had left a previous workplace rooted in white supremacy.
During this time, I sought free educational tools online to boost myself in the social media content sector – where I had no previous knowledge aside from doom-scrolling and content interactions with folks within my small community of followers. As I was in the learning phases, I wondered where the QTIPOC content creators were and found it harder to hear perspectives from folks who looked and identified like me. This catapulted me to be conscious and intentional about the kinds of clients that I wanted to attract.
In a year, I utilized what I had learned and began searching for clients who valued uplifting QTIPOC voices in their work. I landed three clients, two of which I still work for as a freelancer today. I went from having no income to having nearly $25,000 in revenue in my first year. To some, that may not seem like a lot, but it took a chance on myself and my values to find the meaningful work I sought.
So, Mo – what are you getting at here? Bridging the gap between the experiences of Black Trans freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners starts with the education and training of our white counterparts. If you are consistently underrepresenting in your collaborations with Black Trans folks, are you honestly taking steps to invest in our future?
Ways to Collaborate
1. Procurement & Partnership:
Make a conscious effort to support Disabled Black TIGE owned businesses by sourcing our products and services or collaborating on projects. Creating sustainable business relationships uplifts the landscape or equitable business practices.
- Mentorship & Education: Offer mentorship programs, workshops or webinars that provide valuable business insights to Black Trans entrepreneurs. Sharing knowledge and expertise can assist us in navigating challenges, developing new skills, and growing our businesses.
- Networking Opportunities: Host events or create platforms for networking where Black Trans business owners can connect with potential clients, partners, and investors. Facilitating these connections can open doors and expand our reach.
- Financial Support: Consider creating a scholarship or grants specifically for Black Trans individuals pursuing entrepreneurship or seeking to grow our businesses. Financial support can be a game-changer and empower us to achieve our goals.
- Marketing & Promotion: Use your platform to promote and amplify the work of Black Trans business owners. Share our success stories, highlight our products or services, and showcase our contributions to the community!
- Advocacy & Policy Support: Advocate for policies promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in business. Support initiatives that create equal opportunities for everyone and explicitly uplift Disabled Black Trans folks.
- Feedback & Collaboration: Seek feedback from Black Trans business owners on how your organization can better support us. Collaborate on initiatives that align with our needs and aspirations.
Black Business Month provides an opportunity to celebrate and implement better processes to work with creative and innovative Black Trans freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. By fostering an equitable, collaborative landscape, you open up better pathways that continuously shape a future where all voices are heard and all talents are celebrated.
Also, remember creating lasting change requires continuous effort and dedication. By collaborating with Disabled Black Trans business owners all year round, you implement our empowerment and create a more inclusive and vibrant business ecosystem!