Economic Justice: A Black Woman's Reflections on Equal Pay Day
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve uttered the words “I don’t make enough for this s%*t” I’d be rich and as such wouldn’t feel the need to write this post.
On August 22, 2016, the world (well not everyone but you get it) acknowledged Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is in observance of the amount of time it takes Black women to earn the same pay that white men earn in one calendar year. Black women currently make sixty cent to a white man’s dollar. So what that means is that a Black woman has to work 20 months to make what a white man makes in 12.
An additional 239 days! Seriously? Let me tell you why I’m mad.
I like the majority of my friends (all Black women) have a college degree; in fact I have two degrees and am often left wondering why. I feel a great sense of pride and achievement when reading that black woman are now the most educated group in the nation, (according to the National Center for Education Statistics between 2009 and 2010 black women earned 66 percent of bachelor degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees, and 65 percent of all doctorates awarded to black students.) but that quickly turns to anger on the 15th and 30th of each money when that direct deposit hits.
I work at a nonprofit (don’t let this sway you, they have money), an economic justice organization as a matter of fact but wages and salary parity there is anything but just.
I’m mad that at the organization’s senior level the lowest paid manager is a Black woman, same education, same length of time with the organization, more experience but somehow less money.
I’m mad that for my first year and a half I worked closely with a white male who made a little less than I did, all the while doing significantly less work than me (and by significantly less I mean none), with less education. What makes things worse and me even angrier is the fact that this man makes more than nearly all the women in my department, all who with the exception of one identify as women of color.
I’m mad because I sit in meetings with a CEO who make nearly 6x my salary, and senior staff who all make over six figures discussing poverty and am always reminded of my own. No, not the poverty I experienced growing up, I am talking about the poverty I am experiencing right now as I type. An example of this is most recently while in a meeting my CEO mentioned how we (the folks sitting at the table) are so fortunate and should we ever run into issue of being arrested we can make bail. All I could think was “all of us…are you sure?” because with nearly 200k in student loan debt, my nearly $1800 monthly rent payment (because I am single woman who dares to live alone in post gentrified Harlem, to avoid a 2 hour commute), credit card debt (because groceries and travel ain’t cheap), a host of other expenses attached to being an adult living in NYC , and no safety net (such as no savings, parents or relatives with money) I am pretty sure I will be sitting my butt in jail.
I’m mad every day I have to combat, racism, sexism, and classism at work and am made to feel as though I should be grateful to have a job. I’m mad at my inability to plan for the future; that homeownership, motherhood, and being debt free seems so far out of my reach. I’m mad at the depression, panic, and sadness I fell every time I have an expense and how it impacts my day to day life.
I’m mad that a day such a Black women’s equal pay day has to exist but taking a look into my life its clear why it does.