If you missed it, it’s no surprise, particularly if you are a Black woman. Black women have historically been missing out on equal or equitable pay and last Monday, July 31 — Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — was a moment for the nation to acknowledge and address the income equity gap in the U.S. between Black women and white men. On this day, Black women lawmakers, business owners and public policy influencers gathered in cities and on social media to discuss the enormous disparities that show Black women working full-time earn 63 cents for every $1.00 earned by their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.
The impact of this wage gap is significant, as Sen. Kamala Harris points out in recent commentary: “This isn’t just about the individual woman. This is also about the families they support. Eight out of every 10 Black mothers are their family’s breadwinner. For the average family, if the wage gap was closed, that family could afford 19 more months of mortgage payments, 43 more months of child care, or more than 11,600 additional gallons of gas.”
The impact is even greater for Black women who have to also deal with the emotional, psychological and spiritual impact of the pay inequities they face that all too often place them in vulnerable situations or relationships that are detrimental to their own well-being and to their families.
Black Women’s Pay Equity Day is necessary to focus on measures that must take place in order to close the pay equity gap, including raising the minimum wage and preparing women for better jobs, for which Senator Harris has promised to advocate. But she should not be expected to address this issue alone. More Black women must begin to speak and stand up and support each other in efforts like Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and join forces in the fight to end gender and racial economic injustice.