Why should you observe or try understanding Black Women's Equal Pay Day? For one, because institutional racism is a problem. On September 21 of this year, thanks to a national group of advocates, that date will be honored as "Black Women's Equal Pay Day".
An entire 226 days passed in 2020, without regard to required education and job type, before black and African American women reached the point of equal pay. To influence corporate and political leaders, courageous activists are rallying and letting their voices be heard. The reality of equal pay must come to its fruition.
Black Women's Equal Pay Day – What's It All about
The observation of Equal Pay Day was declared by the National Committee on Pay Day Equity organization in 1996. The civil rights organizations, professional associations, coalition of labor unions, and individuals, since then, have been trying to open the eyes of the public to implicit discrimination realities regarding the paycheck and around the workplace.
Sadly, for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic, white men, $0.62 is typically made by a black woman, on average. For every dollar made by a white father (parent), only $0.50 is made by a black mother. America's inequalities already in existence have been amplified by racial injustices like this, causing social unrest.
Student loans are another area of concern for black women. One would think the following statistic could be taken in a positive light: Bachelor’s degrees are earned by 64% of female black students. The problem arises when the serious financial impact is considered.
Today, more advocacy and interest are being attracted and held by National Black Women's Equal Pay Day than ever before; and yet, a lot of work still has to be done.
Here’s something to ponder next time you are having a group discussion:
- Where the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are concerned, how many of those CEOs do you suppose have been black women?
- Answer: Zero.
That representation is dismal, at best. It's just one statistic in a collection of many that are distressing, to say the least.
As a 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act amendment, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the 1963 Equal Pay Act.
What happens if it is discovered a company has violated this act? If an employee can prove the law was willfully broken, an employer may be liable for punitive damages and compensatory damages.
The Paycheck Fairness Act – Five Quick Facts
- Mitch McConnell (Republican minority leader), in 2014, said the Paycheck Fairness Act wouldn't help women, it would simply "line the pockets of trial lawyers".
- Voting against the bill, Sen. Harry Reid, in 2012, is said to have gone for a "strategic maneuver" with his vote. He said, at a later date the legislation could be reintroduced, courtesy of his "nay" vote.
- First introduced to Congress in 1997, the Paycheck Fairness Act has been introduced, yet again, in excess of 15 times.
- The Paycheck Fairness Act, unlike 1963's Equal Pay Act, does not put the onus of proof on the employee, but on the employer, where the decision of whether or not discrimination occurred is concerned.
- For wage discrimination, the right to sue employers for punitive damages is possessed by employees, courtesy of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Ways in Which You Can Participate
If you would like to be part of the Black Women's Equal Pay Day observation, here are some suggestions:
- Have a frank discussion. Go out of your way to talk to an acquaintance of color, co-worker, or friend of color – particularly if you're white. During your discussion, between you and those around you, don't let a wall be constructed by the topic of race. Rather, discuss your common experiences, similarities, and differences. You may find improved understanding by walking a mile in someone else's shoes.
- Promote or hire a woman of color. If you’re a hiring manager or business owner, to ensure equality, bring a black American or African American woman into the upper ranks. Within your company, any stilted views may well be cast aside thanks to this litmus test of sorts.
- Become a part of the Twitter storm. Social networking can have a significant effect so, to really make a difference, use your social networks for your sense of activism. Start Tweeting to put in your two cents. Let everyone know you’re interested in ending race-based and gender-based gaps. In order to end workplace discrimination, you will fight and keep on fighting.
Is It All That Important to Participate and Honor This Day?
Answer: Yes, it is. Here's why:
- You're helping to right a wrong. One of America's greatest ideals – fairness – is an American citizen right, at a bare minimum. You're contradicting this very American ideal by arguing that unequal pay is fair.
- You may recall the sentence fragment: "We hold these truths to be self-evident …" Right there, for everyone to see, it says that all women and men are created equally, and under the Constitution and the law, should have equal protection. It isn't that big of a stretch to understand an integral part of that means equal pay among races and genders.
- It's high time the racial and gender pay gap be bridged. It's gone on for too long. The status quo must catch up. It must change. Across the board, something with a better resemblance to true equality must be established.
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