By Vanessa Rivers 18 July 2018
I saw the Forbes Magazine, with Kylie Jenner on the cover, and under her photo there was this: “America’s Women Billionaires, The 60 Richest Self-Made Women”. At first, I found it quite amusing, but the more I thought about it, and the more I heard people’s comments about it, I’ll admit it, I got mad. Ok, they put her photo on the cover because she’s young, white, attractive, and she’s ranked #27 on this list, I get it, they need to sell magazines. The part I took exception to, was the assertion that she is “self-made”. What’s “self-made” about a person who is the daughter and sister of wealthy celebrities? What’s “self-made” about a person who grew up in the public eye on a wildly popular TV show? What’s “self-made” about a person who receives marketing & publicity, not only because of her cosmetic line, but also due to her promotion of herself as a “brand”, all free of charge? What’s self-made about a person who because of everything I just mentioned already had an enormous Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook following which she used to promote her products? She is getting praise for being “self-made”, while discounting all the advantages that she had right out of the gate. Can anyone say, “White Privilege?
It feels like white people get praise for doing something when all the cards are stacked in their favor, while black people get no praise for doing something when all the cards are stacked against us. Black people, specifically in this case, black women, have always been, and will always be “SELF-MADE”. Black women have always held the proverbial VP, CEO & COO positions in our families, jobs, and communities. We have always known how to successfully make “a way out of no way”, while never receiving any public credit for doing so.
Black women are continuously being overlooked and left out of any discussion about successfulness in business, since the end of slavery. In 1867, 2 short years after the end of slavery, Sarah Breedlove, who later came to be known as Madam C.J. Walker was born. She became the founder of a manufacturing company which produced haircare products for black women. She also opened a chain of beauty shops, training schools for beauticians, and began selling these products by mail order. By 1915 she became the wealthiest black woman in the nation, owning a Villa in the same neighborhood as John D. Rockefeller.
I know this issue was highlighting American women, but how many times has British born Pat McGrath with her black owned cosmetic line and Pat McGrath Labs, valued at $1 Billion been highlighted in the same way as Kylie Jenner. She was raised in England by her single mother, a Jamaican expatriate, and worked as a receptionist, and then a makeup artist. She is now sought after by the most famous women in the world, along with fashion designers, to showcase their fashion lines. She didn’t have any of the advantages that Ms. Jenner & her family has, but she, with vision, hard work, determination and courage is a Billionaire.
Now that’s, what I call, “SELF-MADE”!!!