This year, we recognized Equal Pay Day on April 4th, the date that women have to work through just to earn what men earned in the previous calendar year. While it’s infuriating that many women have to work an additional three months, a whopping 25 percent more than their male colleagues, just to catch up, these statistics do not represent all women.
Today, we recognize Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on July 31st: Nearly four months AFTER we recognized Equal Pay Day for white women and a full seven months after our white non-Hispanic male counterparts have to work to make the same amount of money. To put these numbers into context, Trump has been in office LESS than seven months. I don’t know about you, but his tenure already feels like an eternity to me, and that “eternity” is less time than it takes the average black woman to earn the same as the average white man. Enraged yet? Yeah, there’s even more incendiary facts coming your way...
“Black women only make 67 cents to every dollar made by a white man. Only 67 f*cking cents.”
While the statistic that the “typical woman” only makes around 79 cents for every dollar earned by men is one that is frequently quoted (and, ignorantly, frequently denied…Yes, I’m talking to you, MRAs) this statistic does not encompass black women and therefore cannot adequately capture the struggle for equality of ALL women. Black women only make 67 cents to every dollar made by a white man. 67 f*cking cents. This unsettling fact is independent of education (black women are now the most educated group in America), occupation, and even accounts for the fact that black women actually work more hours than white women, according to the Economic Policy Institute. So while the “79 cents” statistic is so catchy that even Obama used it during his speeches, it leaves women of color behind in the fight for equality, once again.
Black women have been left behind on two accounts: They are subject to the gender pay gap, that is admittedly decreasing, but are also vulnerable to the racial wage gap, that is actually widening. In 1979, white women and black women were at near parity when it came to wages. In 2016, 37 years later, while white women’s wages grew to 76 percent of white men’s, black women’s only grew to 67 precent. This nine percentage point difference between races illustrates how segregated our work towards equity has become. We are moving in the wrong direction.
As a white woman who ardently fights against inequality, I recognize my privilege in the fight and recognize that in order to achieve full equality for all women, we must first recognize the struggle of all women. The fact that we recognize Equal Pay Day on April 4th, with no qualifier that this date is not representative of our other female warriors in the battle, is not inclusive and therefore, wrong.
The pay inequity experienced by black women compared to white men and, frankly, compared to white women should not be an additional disclaimer, but rather instrumental in our feminist movement. We recognize Black Women’s Equal Pay Day today in order to show the vast disparity in earnings between genders AND race, but it is crucial that we recognize this disparity consistently and unrelentingly every single day. I stand today, and every day, with black women who must work that much harder, that much longer, and with that much more tenacity to level the playing field. The battle has just begun, and we will fight this together.