Who does she think she is? Should Hispanic women get to own businesses?
My therapy fee, the one that no one really pays, is very high. It was calculated to counterbalance all the reduced rate slots I want –and am expected– to have available for folks with limited resources, often, unfortunately, POC and other minorities. And also, because “The Work,” the extra things you have to do when you’re brown/queer/Spanish-speaking, takes up a lot of time, and pays… nothing. So you may look at my fee and wonder, “Who does she think she is?” The answer is: A woman who did some basic math. I sat down and tallied up my expenses, divided them by the number of hours there are to work in a year, and ended up with a number, one that I wasn’t emotionally attached to, that was not determined by that of a different therapist in the same city, and that did not involve an attempt to quantify my “worth.” Then I lowered it even more, because it still seemed astronomical. My full fee [deep breath] is $260. [Why is that so hard to say? Well, because therapists judge other therapists by their fees.] It’s even harder to get that fee, but it would be –it is– impossible to live on a lower one. To survive, yes. But to thrive, no. [Is it okay to thrive?]
“The Work,” the extra things you have to do when you’re brown/queer/Spanish-speaking
My (White Southern) spouse is horrified that I’ve been talking about money. “You make it sound like you have no money.” Well, I never said I that I don’t have any money. I know I’m very privileged. I have a nice house, I go out to eat with friends, my children have everything they need and more. (And then there’s this, which I know some of you have wondered about.) But the fact is that I’m not making enough to cover our expenses. Since I started this private practice business, about a year and a half ago, we’ve been slowly chipping away at our savings –our hard-earned dollars that we had so carefully put away.
Who does she think she is?
But this is not about how much money I personally have or don’t have. It’s about the racial income gap. Check out this horrifying graph from inequality.org:
And that’s not even taking into account gender. Statistics vary –slightly– but broadly cited ones say that White women earn 77 cents to the dollar, whereas Black women earn 63 cents, and Hispanic women only 53! Ughhhhh. I’m a Hispanic woman! With a doctorate. And more than 15 years of experience. In a helping profession. That I love. And am good at. And with every intention of using my money for good. Shouldn’t I be making… you know, 100 cents to the dollar?
Which one hurts me more, being Hispanic or being a woman?
Does anyone else miss the cents symbol? Oh, here it is: ¢. I had to google it. I also googled this deceptively peppy song. Listen to it as you read the rest of my post. It’s a good one. The song. And the post.
The fact is that I’m making much less in private practice than I ever made in agency work. And with no benefits or PTO. Sometimes I start doubting myself. Does this mean that I should go back to agency work? Where a (probably White male) boss will tell me how to do my work, and at what time, and when I can or can’t attend an event at my children’s school, and will always make more than me, and my income will be capped, and I’ll never be able to get my mom that trip to Australia or make a substantial contribution to my kids’ college education? Because I see minorities, am I supposed to work at an agency that serves those populations? If I have to offer low rates, will I ever be able to make enough to cover office rent, EHR, tech services, advertising, training, office supplies, professional dues, and taxes, much less a retirement fund, and still turn a profit? Does this mean that business ownership is not for Hispanics? But if I go back out there, won’t I still be subject to the gender pay gap? Which one hurts me more, being Hispanic or being a woman?
Shouldn’t I be making… you know, 100 cents to the dollar?
Should I go ahead and tell my Brown daughter that she will always make less than… pretty much everybody else? And that she probably shouldn’t plan on ever having her own business? That she can’t be or have as much as her White friends? That she’ll have less to give to her kids? That she should think small and know her place? My daughter is bright, talented, inherently helpful, and has the most joie de vivre I have ever seen in a human. I kind of wanted to tell her that she can be and do anything she wants. That she deserves to flourish while doing something she loves, that everyone does. And what do I tell my White-looking son? That he’s the lucky one? That because he was born male and looks White the world is his oyster? Especially if he doesn’t let on that he speaks Spanish, so that they don’t give him the lower-paying jobs? That he better make bank so he can share with his sister? My son is brilliant, and gifted, and generous, and he has a heart so big that I don’t even understand how it fits in his tiny body. How can I break that heart by telling him that while he and his sister are both wonderful individuals, our society does not value them the same?
Of course I’m not going to tell them any of that. I’m going to keep that truth from them as long as I can, and hope that by the time they enter the workforce, things will have changed some. And that’s why I feel compelled to do my part in calling attention to systemic injustices. For them. And for my nieces and nephews, who are all different shades and colors.
Hopefully, at this moment you’re asking yourself what you can do to be part of the solution.
If you are unable, untrained or unwilling to work with minority clients, if you are privileged enough to get full-fee clients, and if you believe that minority professionals’ time is just as valuable as white/straight/cis/etc. clinicians’ time, please consider donating, on a monthly or other regular basis, to our community client fund here or here, and to A Therapist Like Me, a non-profit that helps minority-identified clients finance their treatment without placing the burden on minority-identified therapists of working for less than a full fee. That way, maybe someday we can all enjoy the game.