Equal Pay Day
So I wrote the piece below for the Femiio Newsletter this week, but thought the importance of the topic required an even wider exposure. Please read, enjoy, and be enlightened! Also, if you'd like to sign up for the newsletter to receive more tips, advice, knowledge, and general reflections, click here ♥
So yesterday was Equal Pay Day for black women.
I noticed a peculiar thing as I was researching articles to expand my knowledge of it. Even as these authors were expressly talking about the wage gap breakdown as it happens by race — even though they were fully acknowledging that race has a consequential position in this conversation — a number of them still began by stating some version of “Women make 80 cents on the dollar” as a backdrop to the point.
Which was confusing to me because I was like, “Aren’t we literally here to discuss how not *all* women make 80 cents on the dollar? Why hasn’t the *Whiteness* of the women making 80 cents on the dollar been denoted?” Now I’m not sure if they were taking an average of the gaps across women of all races, but I’m *pretttyyyy sure* if black women make 67 cents OTD, and Native American women make 57 cents OTD and Latinas make 54 cents OTD, the average is not gonna be anywhere near 80. I’m prettyyyy sure we only mean white women. So why aren’t we saying that?
Beyond words chosen or not for online articles, the thing is that this racial/gender pay gap doesn’t just affect the individual. It affects households, which then affects communities, which then has impacts generationally, which is how we’ve stayed stuck in this mess. Racism is Legion; it is a multi-faceted, multi-armed, intricate and efficient monster. It does not take much effort to run once it gets going (and we’re about 400 years going downhill at this point) but it takes EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT to stop it. On EVERY FRONT.
How do we stop the wage gap? Same way we stop the murders of black people by police, same way we stop mass incarceration, same way we stop Google searches of “beautiful women” from returning images of only white/European looking women, same way we stop protecting the Confederate legacy, same way we stop “locker room talk”, same way we stop making human beings “illegal”, same way we stop whitewashing our history entirely.
Many articles provided what they thought were helpful tools and tips for closing the wage gap but my favorite came from Forbes. I highly encourage you to read the article, but I’ll leave you with the quote that felt most salient:
“The first step comes from acknowledging that we all have bias, and owning it. Start to become more mindful of the thoughts and stereotypes that may influence your decision to hire or promote someone, and ensure your personal biases don’t negatively impact a person’s ability to be successful, such as how a person’s hair is styled or confusing confidence and willingness to speak up with being aggressive. Hire black women, promote black women and pay black women the same way you would hire, promote and pay their white male colleagues. It is as simple as that.” — Angela Guy, Senior Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion for L’Oréal USA.