It’s a known fact that women of color make significantly less than white men and white women and this year, August 3 has been designated as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Recognizing the wage gap on August 3 isn’t a coincidence either, it marks the actual day in 2021 that Black women on average finally catch up to what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts made in 2020. The day is an opportunity to highlight the pay disparity between Black women–including those who identify as Afro-Latina–and their white, male counterparts. The organizers of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day are also responsible for Latina Equal Pay Day — happening October 21 this year — are using this day of recognition to call for changes to close the wage gap using the hashtag, #BlackWomenCantWait to continue to raise awareness.
“Today is #BlackWomensEqualPay Day, the day that Black women’s pay catches up to what white men made last year alone. This racist, sexist wage gap robs Black women of nearly $1 million over their lifetimes,” the National Women’s Law center tweeted.
Today is #BlackWomensEqualPay Day, the day that Black women’s pay catches up to what white men made last year alone. This racist, sexist wage gap robs Black women of nearly $1 million over their lifetimes.
— National Women's Law Center (@nwlc) August 3, 2021
The organization Equal Pay Today reports that, “the average woman must work far into the next year to earn what the average man earns the previous year,” highlighting the wage differences for various demographics, based on U.S. Census date from 2019, and additional data collected since that time. NBC News backs up the claim, reporting that Black women must work 579 days to earn the same amount men earn in 365 days.
Although the wage gap between women and men working full-time in the United States has been slowly closing over the last several years, with women now earning $0.82 to the dollar, Black women are still earning just $0.63 cents to the dollar compared to white men and Latinas (including Afro-Latinas) earn just $0.55 to the dollar compared to white men.
The numbers are even more staggering and disheartening for mothers. Black mothers in the U.S. earn an average of $0.52 cents to the dollar while Latina mothers earn an average of $0.46 cents to the dollar, the lowest rate of all populations.
Forbes reports that for Black women, this adds up to a loss of $2,099 per month and nearly a million dollars over the course of a 40-year career. With that in mind, #BlackWomenCantWait is right on point, and people have taken to Twitter en masse with statistics supporting immediate change in the form of hiring practices that promote diversity in the workforce, pay transparency and empowering leadership to advocate for their employees.
“When women are doing the same work as men, there should be no pay gap at all. We should not be creating more hardship on women because of their gender,” the president of women’s rights group National Now, Christian Nunes was quoted as saying on Twitter.
National NOW President @ChrisFNunes on #BlackWomensEqualPayDay, "When women are doing the same work as men, there should be no pay gap at all. We should not be creating more hardship on women because of their gender." #BlackWomenCantWait https://t.co/O2Q7YwbeDe
— National NOW (@NationalNOW) August 3, 2021
And she’s exactly right. “The issue of equal pay is not just a woman’s issue because it trickles down into our families and into our communities, and it trickles down into our overall economy,” the director of Equal Pay Today, Shannon Williams told Fortune. According to a report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, if the wage gap were to close right now, Black women would have more money to pay for childcare, university tuition and fees and rent, which would bolster both the U.S. workforce and the economy as a whole.
Perhaps even more importantly though, eliminating the wage gap, would mean that women of color would finally be paid commensurately with their worth, which could potentially have endless benefits financially and emotionally, creating a much stronger and more dedicated workforce. Not only that, but it would likely also lead to many families being able to break cycles of generational poverty and reliance on welfare and government assistance.
“Those lost wages leave them less able to support themselves & their families, save & invest for the future, & spend on goods and services,” tweeted Michigan State Senator Erika Geiss, and we couldn’t explain it better ourselves. Equal pay for equal work benefits everyone.