Black women are some of the hardest working women in America and we still make just 60 cents for every dollar a White man earns. But it’s not just us. Both White and Latina women make less than men, to the tune of 79 cents and 55 cents respectively. While politicians have talked about the need to close the wage gap, some folks still don’t get it. That’s why our favorite awkward homegirl, Issa Rae, teamed up with Make It Work to shine a light the issue.
Like many Americans, Rae wasn’t aware women still made drastically less than their male counterparts. She thought the fight for women’s rights meant women had the same earning power as men. Unfortunately, she was wrong. “I was one of many Americans who just didn’t know men and women weren’t being paid the same. It did not cross my mind that it was still an issue,” she told ESSENCE. “So I figured if I didn’t know, lots of other people didn’t know.”
After being approached by Make It Work to create a PSA about the pay gap, Rae decided to sign on to the project. “I’m one of those people who feel kind of helpless in some instances. I feel like if I don’t know the policies, the problem, or the root, then I don’t know what to do about it,” she explained. “Since I’m an artist by heart, I try to make my work reflect the problems, so smarter people can do something about it.”
To this end, Rae enlisted the help of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose and a group of pint-sized actors to create “Lessons In Equal Pay From Corporate America,” a spot-on PSA about how absurd and unfair the pay gap really is.
In the clip, four children–three girls and a boy–are selling lemonade, and each child gets a different price for a cup based on their gender and race. The result is a perfect explanation of why the pay gap just doesn’t make sense. “We wanted to involve kids because kids tend to see the world as-is and to call people out in a way grownups don’t because we become desensitized to things,” Rae said. She wrote and produced the video spot for Make It Work, a campaign that advocates for things like equal pay and family leave for men and women.
“Having kids sympathize with the issue would bring it to the forefront in a way that was easy,” she explained.
What hasn’t been so easy is Rae’s transition from YouTube sensation to writer and producer of her own HBO show, Insecure. Being a Black woman in Hollywood can be difficult, but Rae doesn’t let it bother her.
“All you can really do is just in the most charming, sophisticated, educated way you can, make them feel stupid. That’s basically what my goal has been industry,” she explained. “I don’t want to feel like I’m angered by anything because people are ignorant.”
She adds: “My issue is when you try to be an expert on the issue when you’re not. People need to just shut up and listen.”
Rae’s Make It Work PSA certainly has our attention.
Use the hashtag #PayGapWTF to continue the conversation on Twitter.