Black Women's Equal Pay Day is not a holiday.  It's a call to action

SSeptember 21st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day the average black woman in America will finally – after nine extra months of work – reach what the average white man earns in 2021.

I long for the day when everyone in our economy thrives because it is fair, honest and fair. Imagine an economy that values ​​gender parity and promotes the control and influence of those who have been historically marginalized, especially black women. This economy will be inclusive, strong and beneficial for all. Unfortunately, today is not that day.

An economy influenced by racial capitalism and the pandemic is causing inequality to persist and deepen for women of color. On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we celebrate the systemic gender inequality that black women face, not to set white men’s median wage as the norm, but to call out the injustices in our economy and push us to fix it.

And there’s a lot to fix. As the overall gender pay gap narrowed this year, Black women, as well as Indigenous and Latina women whose Equal Pay Days in 2022 November and Decemberrespectively — they lag even further.

Measure this against what’s happening in the broader economy today, and the picture gets even worse. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic put the U.S. on the brink of recession, with average Americans feeling the brunt of inflation, rising prices, and rising rent and mortgage costs, while the richest 1% benefit from unprecedented corporate profits.

This reality confirms what many of us already know: our economy doesn’t work for everyone. The status quo in our economy continues to favor the wealthy and those with financial interests who wield enormous influence. If we want to make any progress toward a just, inclusive, multiracial economy and democracy, we need to shift power to black women.

The work of black women has always been undervalued. During chattel slavery, black women had no claim to the wealth created by their labor. Our country’s first national labor law, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, specifically excluded farm and domestic workers, many of whom were black.

Black women still labor under the long shadow of slavery and systemic racism. The proof is in our paychecks. In 2019, black women lost $39.3 billion in wages compared to white men, largely due to occupational segregation. In the course of 40 years of full-time worka black woman can lose almost $1 million compared to the pay of a white man.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the disparity. Lost women 1.4 million jobs, largely in industries where black women are overrepresented, such as services and hospitality. And black women workers were once again excluded from the full economic recovery, facing unemployment rates that would still be considered recessionary if applied to all workers. The extremist Supreme Court added to this burden with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org a decision that will devastate black families who already face disproportionate economic burdens when it comes to having and raising children.

The institutional barriers that exclude Black women from economic security are the result of decades of deliberate public policy choices that hit women of color the hardest. These inequalities can be remedied by shifting power from corporations to communities to ensure we make fair policy choices that benefit more than the corporate bottom line.

To fix the economic injustice that black women face, we must build worker power. This should include increasing the federal minimum wage, protecting and strengthening the power of workers to organize for better wages and working conditions, and banning the use of salary history in job applications because it perpetuates economic discrimination. We must also crack down and regulate irresponsible corporate giants whose growing power and racial pay discrimination threaten black women’s economic control.

We need to invest fairly in public goods like schools, housing and childcare. And we need to establish models of shared governance that allow historically marginalized individuals to partner with local governments to make decisions — for example, how to best use federal infrastructure funding and the policies of the Inflation Reduction Act .

Many of these solutions require widely popular policy tools that are currently available. It was never about public will, but about political will. Equal Pay Day may sound like a celebration, but it’s actually a call to action.

More must-see stories from TIME

Contact us at [email protected].

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *