When I first started writing freelance, I asked a friend of mine for advice on which online marketplaces I should use, and how I should present myself. After giving me loads of helpful advice (thanks, Jock!), my white, male friend speculated that I — as a woman of color — “would be a hit.”
I wouldn’t say that was my experience. I certainly received a lot of interest and a lot of personal messages. But they were not of a type I would call positive.
My experience appears to be fairly normal for Black people entering online marketplaces. Despite the fact that freelancers are covered by anti-discrimination legislation, research shows that Black freelancers — especially women of color — face a significant level of discrimination on these platforms.
In this article, I’ll show you the evidence for that, share a few of my own experiences, and then think about what can be done about it.
Research into racial discrimination in online freelance marketplaces is rare. This is partially because of a design feature of these marketplaces: they don’t collect data on the ethnicity of their users. Despite collecting a vast amount of other data, presumably in order that employers can search for