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Black women demand pay equity

On August 13, 2020, Black women finally catch up to what white men were paid last year

WASHINGTON — Today, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, marks the day when Black women catch up to what white men were paid last year. Equal Pay Day, which looks at the gender gap in pay between men and women as a whole, was observed back in March — demonstrating just how much the intersection of sexism and racism hurts Black women economically. While the average white woman is paid 70 cents for every dollar a man is paid, Black women are paid only 62 cents. Over time, Black women are underpaid close to $50 billion. Black women’s disproportionate employment in low-wage service and minimum or sub-minimum wage jobs is a contributing factor to the disparity — one that leaves many Black women and families in poverty, even with full-time work.

“Existing gender and racial inequities intersect to make Black women especially vulnerable to COVID, meaning pay equity is literally a life or death issue,” said In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell. “In November, BIack women must send a strong message to candidates up and down the ballot that, in order to count on our support and our votes, they must take action to pay all women and all people of color what we earn.”

Because African Americans face disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates and are more likely to live in areas experiencing outbreaks, simply being a Black worker is tantamount to a lethal preexisting condition. Black women also face disparities in access to healthcare, affordable childcare, and employer-provided benefits like paid sick leave — all contributing to the outsized harm caused by the pandemic. Because Black workers are more likely to be in front-line jobs deemed ‘essential,’ and are also less likely to be able to work from home than white workers, many are being forced to risk their own lives, and the health of their family, just to earn a living. Additionally, job flexibility for low-wage workers often only comes in the form of reduced hours, resulting in reduced pay. With Black women more likely to be single heads of households and single parents than white women, and the added pressure on 80% of Black mothers who are the primary breadwinner, this leaves few options for those fortunate enough to still have jobs.

As the pandemic rages on for much of the country, the Trump campaign — and Administration — have made voter suppression a core tenant of his reelection strategy, governors in Republican-led states continue their campaigns to disenfranchise Black and brown voters, and the right works to destroy the U.S. Post Office and undermine faith in the validity of absentee and mail-in ballots.

“If our votes didn’t matter, bad actors in state and federal government wouldn’t be working so hard to suppress them,” said Howell. “With only three months left before election day, it is more urgent than ever that we work to expand voter access and strengthen voting rights so that we can use the power of our voices and our votes to address the economic inequities causing additional suffering — starting with closing the wage gap.”

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