Today on Equal Pay Day, the nation is calling attention to how many more days into the new year that women have to work to make what men were paid for the same job the previous year. Unfortunately, March 24 is not “equal” for all women, with Black women and Latinas facing an even bigger pay gap than women overall: Black women are paid just 63 cents, while Latinas only 55 cents, for every dollar paid to white men. August 22 and October 21 are reserved to celebrate the days when pay for these groups catch up to that of white, non-Hispanic men, respectively.
And it’s not just wage disparities that Black women have to face at work. They are less likely than white workers to have access to paid leave and according to data from the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost of childcare for two children can be upwards of $20,000 a year, which puts many Black and Latina mothers in an impossible position.
The day, which originated with the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages, did what most commemorations do: exclude the voices Black and Latina women. But even the system has long been stacked against us, we remain resilient as ever however, with Black women being the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America and Latina-owned small businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the business, playing a key role in fueling the nation’s economy.
As many celebrate this holiday, here’s what three Black women want you to remember about equality and wage disparities.
“What you don’t value, others won’t either. Focus on the value of what you bring to the table. Anchor yourself in the confidence of the transform your skill set provides, and be willing to walk away from any “opportunity” that doesn’t honor that value.” — Alechia Reese, 360 Gateway Brands
“Black women are often overlooked but especially when we’re silent. In order for companies to decrease the effects of discrimination and devaluation in the workplace we need to demand equity, bitcoin, equal pay, higher titles…and everything else we deserve. Because women — Black women — deserve to make their worth. As a Black woman that didn’t complete her college degree, I’ve always had to work 10x harder and 10x smarter for respect, but I’ve always demanded equal or greater pay because of my contributions. My credentials might be low but my skills are limitless. In every position, I’ve never been afraid to knock on a door or request a meeting and ask for more.” — Nicole Russell, Precious Dreams Foundation
“I was once told to know my worth and then add tax and that’s great advice, but for Black women in Hollywood the institutional challenges that contribute to the gender pay gap is compounded. There are already less opportunities for women of color, and even less for Black women. Especially when you add age and other factors. I want people to remember that every time they turn on their TV or watch a movie, Black women are constantly undervalued in entertainment. Remember that it’s not just entertainment it’s someone’s livelihood.” — RaVal Davis, Actress/Host