Today is Equal Pay Day…well, it is for White women.

According to Fairygodboss, 65 percent of women cite unequal promotion and unequal pay as the greatest sources of inequality in the workplace. And that is only scraping the surface. The pay disparities and gender bias women face is happening in every industry, despite a woman’s ethnicity.

Yet when it comes to the pay disparities between Black and White women, the wage gap is even more troubling.

On average, Black women are paid 38 percent less than White men and 21 percent less than White women. In a nutshell, Black women make about 63 cents on every White man’s dollar.

Black, Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous women all celebrate a different “Equal Pay Day” throughout the year. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day will fall on August 22 this year, (followed by Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day on September 23, and Latinas’ Equal Pay Day on November 20.) The day is selected to represent how much longer in the year a woman from each respective group would need to work in order to catch up with the average salary of White/non-Hispanic men.

So, (ahem) Black women, we still have a few more months.

While today is significant, many of us know that advocating happens 365 days a year. Which is why we’ve decided to highlight the Black celebrities ahead who continue to fight the good fight.

In the meantime, we’ll see you on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on August 22.

Ava DuVernay

Ava Duvernay

DuVernay is not only hiring Black women and telling our stories on the big screen, but she works hard to make sure we are paid. In the summer of 2018, the Oscar-nominated director was one of the 3,000 celebrities to sign an open letter demanding equal pay between men and women holding jobs in production. Her signature was added after a study conducted by Working Ideal for IATSE Local 871 showed that women were paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars per week less than their male counterparts, even though California’s Fair Pay Act and federal law require equal pay without gender bias. DuVernay is the highest-grossing female black director in domestic-box-office history, and she’s making sure other Black women who work behind the scenes get opportunities and fair pay.

LeBron James

LeBron James

James who is breaking into Hollywood on his own has become an excellent ally for pay equality. James is the king of the court, but he is honoring the Black queens off the court by helping them get the pay they deserve. The three-time Finals MVP collaborated with actress Octavia Spencer on an upcoming Netflix original series, Madam C.J. Walker Project and helped the Oscar winner negotiate a fair deal. The NBA star also released the LeBron 16 HFR sneakers giving Black women designers an opportunity to design the first Nike shoe created for women by women.”Being the son, husband and father of strong African-American women, I felt like this was something I wanted to do for them and for all the strong women out there who are succeeding despite what might be stacked against them,” he shared in a statement.

Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton

The Westworld actress successfully negotiated equal pay across the board for herself and the other actresses of the hit HBO series. “It’s really exciting. It’s unprecedented. It’s—goodness, it shatters so much calcified pain, resentment, frustration. It just shatters it,” she told Vanity Fair. The Emmy-winning actress has now set a precedent at HBO to close all pay disparities within their shows for all of her future projects. She plans to turn down a job if she is not paid equal to her co-stars.

Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer

It’s hard to believe this Oscar-winner has trouble getting the pay she deserves, but Spencer has not been exempt for getting low offers for her work, and she’s no longer quiet about it. She is using her platform to speak out about gender bias in pay. Spencer’s many relationships in Hollywood have proved beneficial for gathering allies and collaborators in her fight for equal pay. Los Angeles Laker, Lebron James, and actress Jessica Chastain have stood beside Spencer in her quest for equal pay. The actress shared with ESSENCE that the best way to negotiate a fair salary is to take the emotion out of it. “Men don’t have emotion when they ask for things. We can’t wonder if we’re worth it. If you put in the time and become an expert at what you do, then you should be paid as an expert,” she shared at ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood.


Gabrielle Union

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 30: Gabrielle Union attends Miami Heat v New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)

When the Being Mary Jane star sued her network for breaking a contract, it wasn’t easy. Though, seeing Union stand up for herself by demanding she get paid what she deserves, was inspiring and allowed fans and viewers to see another side of her. Since the suit, Union has been a vocal advocate for equal pay. In Net-a-Porter’s “Women In Television” 24-minute conversation on diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, Union shared what it was like to band together with other Black actresses in turning down a role with a meager offer to help their colleague who was a frontrunner for the role get the pay she deserved. “I lose nothing by making sure you get your money,” she explained in the viral video.

Venus Williams

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 21: Venus Williams participates in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in support of Small Business Saturday when she visits the Empire State Building on November 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Williams was instrumental in changing the way women were paid when winning prizes and tournaments in tennis. Popular grand slams like the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon did not award it’s women champions with the same prize as the men and Williams was one of the women on the forefront demanding an equal prize. After writing an op-ed about Wimbledon treating her like a second-class champion, the tournament awarded her the same $1.4 million given to men’s champion Roger Federer in 2007.

A’ja Wilson

CHARLOTTE, NC – FEBRUARY 16: WNBA Rookie of the Year A’ja Wilson at MTN DEW ICE Courtside Studios during NBA All-Star 2019 at Epicentre on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for MTN DEW ICE)

As the number one draft pick of the 2018 WNBA season, Wilson only made $53,000 compared to the NBA’s number one draft pick whose contract was worth $6.8 million according to The New York Times. WNBA has an extreme pay disparity compared to their NBA counterparts, and Wilson called it out with a simple tweet in response to the Lakers contract with Lebron. “154M ……….. must. be. nice. We over here looking for a M 🙃 but Lord, let me get back in my lane, she tweeted. The tweet made headlines in which fellow WNBA players offered her support against the criticism. Now the Las Vegas Aces player speaks about equal pay and advocating for yourself around the country.

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