According to a 2021 study conducted by PR agency MSL and the Influencer League, the pay gap between Black and white content creators was found to be 35%. This means that if a white influencer was £1000 for a piece of content, their black counterpart would be paid £650.
What’s even more ironic is that if you Google this topic, most articles will be so quick to tell you about Victoria Paris’ video on the gender pay gap. Upon first reading I thought ‘wow that’s great she posted that’, upon another Google search I found that Paris is a white influencer…
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great she posted about it and that’s a fantastic way to spread awareness but a white influencer shouldn’t be the main name of this conversation. Instead, I draw your attention to Jackie Aina, a Black YouTuber with over 3.5 million subscribers, who spoke about her experience being underpaid by a brand on an episode of the Pretty Basic Podcast in November.
On the podcast, Aina claims a brand told her they had a lower budget than what they offered another non-Black influencer. Aina said she only became aware of the gap when she started working with a manager who had other non-Black clients land deals with the same brand. “It was the difference between car down payment and house down payment,” she said in the interview. Aina did not respond to the Insider’s request for an interview.
For these reasons it is so important that Black creators work with agencies who prioritise the black experience within their industry. “I found a team that I trust and they’re the ones that negotiate for me and do all the crunching numbers,” said Uche Moxam, a 28-year-old, Black content creator based in Los Angeles. “I’ve seen a lot of progress there for me in terms of what I’ve made in the past and what I’m making now.”
Sadly, prior to her current management team, Moxam was signed with an agency she believes took advantage of her. Moxam claims the agent unevenly allocated the budget from a brand deal to various influencers signed to her. Moxam was made aware of the pay gap by other influencers she had befriended at the agency. “We were doing the same exact jobs, the same exact number of posts, and they were receiving a huge amount more than me. I even had more followers than some of them,” she told Insider.
Going back to the point about Victoria Paris, Skylar Marshai, a 25-year-old, Black, content creator in New York City, speaks out about how crucial it is that white influencers are transparent about their pay so that Black creators can see the bigger picture.
“A good friend of mine who is an entertainment lawyer was telling me that she was looking at contracts for the requests and pitches from white versus Black creators. And she was like, ‘Girl, you need to raise your rates because you would not believe the amount of money that white creators are asking for,'” Marshai said. A Black Studies minor in college, Marshai said she has been aware of pay gaps between Black and non-Black workers for a while, but finds that it’s harder to figure out what’s fair and what isn’t in the still-new creator industry.
To conclude, Marshai stresses the importance of this wider picture knowledge; “If I charge $1,500 for a brand deal and my homegirl charges $2,500, I’m like, ‘Oh, cool, so I should charge [$2,500].’ But then we find out that a white influencer is making $4,000, then we’re both underpaid and down bad and just continuing the cycle of staying beneath the margins.”