Fanta Traore is co-founder of the Sadie Collective.
When it became clear to me as the term ‘essential worker’ was being coined, that most of the people who are being appreciated as such, are women of color and especially Black women, it dawned on me immediately, that they certainly are not treated as such. The disconnect between this language and what economic policy actually is, is peculiar to me. After all, if they are absolutely necessary for the governing of our economy during a global pandemic, should it not be easier for them to do so through offering paid sick leave, and paying them a livable wage?
The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated the reality of American societal inequities, pushing to the forefront just how important it is for Black women and marginalized groups are to our recovery as decision makers.
Suddenly, the work of the Sadie Collective, which I co-founded in 2018, upon the start of my own journey as I sought to become a trained economist, purpose was further illuminated. Rising joblessness for women of color, a national reckoning about systemic racism, as Breonna Taylor’s killers and countless of Black women remain unscathed for their crimes, was clarifying. It revealed how critical it is for Black women, and women of color which find themselves at the bottom of America’s caste system to have the ability to shape the economy from a seat of power. Power, to influence and shape policy so institutions which seek to serve EVERYONE and be world class, which can truly be done by employing diverse talent who provide critical perspective that white men simply cannot offer for the entirety of the US population because their lived experiences do not allow them to. As noted by economist, Janelle Jones, America’s first Chief Economist for the Department of Labor, who coined #BlackWomenBest which means centering economic policy to serve Black women, so the economy works for everyone. (Because when was the last time the economy worked for Black women but not everyone else?)
To get to an economy, that works for everyone, Black women and women of color need a seat at new tables that center their humanity.
Recent data from the 2020 CSMGEP report, shows that less than 1% of people in the United States who graduate with a PhD in Economics as of 2019, are Black women, specifically 4 and the numbers are similar for indigenous women (0) and for Hispanic/Latino (8). As the Sadie Collective continues to grow and expand in its mission to reach more young women of color, and support Black women across critical nodes at their career journey (securing a first job or internship, research opportunities, and so forth), I’m hopeful because in response to the Sadie Collective open letter, new partnerships are being brokered to empower Black women to positions of power and influence. Additionally, appointments of the likes of Dr. Lisa D. Cook to the Biden Transition team, Joelle Gamble as the special assistant to the secretary and Dr. Cecilia Rouse, the first Black woman to chair the Council of Economic Advisors, are women who are excellent with a track record of research and commitment to centering women and other marginalized groups and their conditions in their research.
I’m fortunate to work with an incredible team at the Sadie Collective who are making a shift in the quality of opportunities for Black women, as young Black women who are also evolving in their own personal career journeys. For an organization that is just 2.5 years old, a ‘collective’ mindset and commitment is why we’ve been able to accomplish so much from being reaching a growing membership of 1,000 members, hosting successful conferences with the likes of Chair Janet Yellen, and Dambisa Moyo, and featured in Fortune, Forbes, and several other publications, and with plenty of success to be shared out during this month of February, where we celebrate 100 years of Black economists thanks to the wonderful woman we named the organization for: Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander. Learn more about our work on our website: www.sadiecollective.org, join our community as a member of ally at www.sadiecollective.org/join and on instagram and twitter @SadieCollective.
Master’s student Fanta Traore is co-founder of the Sadie Collective, the first and only organization focused on Black women’s advancement in economics and related fields. Fanta, lives at intersections and embraces the unique perspective that provides her as a social entrepreneur, data oriented researcher, who enjoys running and being a mentor.