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Willie B. Thomas
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There's new evidence to back up what we always knew to be true.

Lihle Z. Mtshali
Jun, 09, 2017

A new report, entitled The Status of Black Women in America, confirms what your mama has been telling you all these years: as a Black woman you will have to be twice as good to get half of what they have. 

The report, which was conducted by the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research and funded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, found that “more than sixty percent of Black women are in the workforce, making them one of the two racial/ethnic groups of women with the highest labor force participation rate, but their earnings lag behind most women’s and men’s earnings in the U.S.”

To get its findings, the report analyzed data by gender, race and ethnicity for all 50 states and the District of Columbia across six topical areas: political participation, employment and earnings, work and family, poverty and opportunity, health and well-being, and violence and safety. But it did not just find the problems, it included policy recommendations for each category.

In the report’s foreword, Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, writes, “Though slavery was legally abolished in the United States in 1865, the conditions that existed under slavery continue to persist today. Black women continue to be at a severe disadvantage in many aspects of our democracy and our economy. 

“Whether one examines Black women’s access to health care, Black women’s earnings, or Black women’s access to much needed social supports like childcare and eldercare, Black women are getting the short end of the stick--despite having contributed so much to the building of this nation. The result is a racialized economy where Black women are losing ground.”

More Black women participate in the workforce than women of other races and the rate of Black women with a college degree has increased by nearly 24 percent since the early 2000. Yet, we are among the most likely to live in poverty.

The only other group poorer than us is indigenous women. 

Part of the reason for this poverty cycle is that despite all the advancement we have made, Black women still remain in the worst-paying sectors of the economy — care taking and service jobs. Even college-educated Black women earn less than White women who went to college, with the median income for Black women in that category being $50,000 a year to a White woman’s $56,000.

More than 80 percent of Black mothers are breadwinners. 

To bridge the wage gap and reduce poverty, the report recommends raising the minimum wage. 

The researchers also said Black women had a higher voter turnout “than all other groups of men and women during the last two presidential elections, but remain underrepresented at every level of federal and state political office.” We hold only 3.4 percent of U.S. Congress seats, 3.5 percent seats in state legislature and only have Senator Kamala Harris representing us in the Senate.